Bathroom etiquette

By ART CULLEN

Back on a sunshiny day like Monday my mother told me not to use the restrooms in Sunset Park, just a stone’s throw from our ancestral home at 216 Geneseo St. A pervert was lurking, she told me. Then she shoved me out the front door to go play in the street or the park or the lake and I went down to Sunset Park and peed in the bushes, behind the band shell, under that cobblestone bridge we recently pictured, everywhere but the restroom. The pervert probably was watching the entire time.

Or not, as I later figured out.

I learned to go on gravel roads before the days of Casey’s General Store. I stood next to other men and looked down in the direction of the ditch. We did the same thing walking beans. Button weeds, or at least their leaves, have a purpose as God intended. Equal to the finest toiletries. They were used, I am ashamed to say, within eyeshot of female co-slaves, a problem solved by Port-A-Pots that are more disgusting than doing it out in the open in front of anybody in the fresh air.

We boys showered together after basketball games or phys ed. No big deal, until later in life you realize that one in 10 men are homosexual!

One of my best friends in college was the son of an NFL football player. My pal was an all-Twin Cities hockey player. Partied like it was 1979. I sorta slept in his apartment. He left St. Paul one day without explanation for San Francisco. And you know what that means. I thought: I passed out with that guy after using his bathroom in plain sight!

Turns out I am no worse for wear.

Nobody leered at me. Nobody did anything. We did our business with modern plumbing and went on our way. I probably have smoked in bathroom stalls with people whose true sexual identities were hidden from me. What a betrayal of trust.

Then Obama opened up the bathrooms to transgenders.

Forget the Syrians. College debt, pshaw. Water pollution can wait because we have to go, right now, and there might be somebody of the other sex in our bathroom. A woman who identifies as being a man might be sitting next door.

Right in our schools, no less, according to executive orders.

I hate to tell you good people, but folks who are not heterosexual have been looking at heterosexuals doing their business for thousands of years. Now thanks to that darned Obama, he has pulled back the toga and revealed what we are wearing underneath, so to speak. You might not be as attractive as you think.

Apparently there is no law in Iowa against men using a women’s bathroom, or vice versa. State education officials indicate that it already is okay for transgender students to use the bathroom that they identify with. This has been true since the days of one-room schools when there were no power augers. The county superintendent could only dig one hole at the Eden Township school near M43 and D15. So there was one outhouse for use by scholars of all persuasions. Those people went on to become world leaders not held back by crises of sexual identity or terror.

They just went. If someone were in the way they found a tree. It is one of the many functions of trees. It is how nature all fits together, out there hearing the cardinals sing and the robins chirp looking up at the tall corn. In those moments of solitude and reflection, you might realize that if you are concerned about your manhood being private except to other men who are wired like you, then you would prefer that men who wish they were women would be better off using the women’s facilities. I think that’s how it goes.

And, I think that mom really meant she didn’t want me using the Sunset Park restroom because she was a germ freak. She knew that the germ lecture wouldn’t stick with me. I was inured to it in 1963. I ate dirt growing up. By 1979 my tough-guy friend’s departure from all his boorish friends in St. Paul let me know mom’s joke was on me. Let nature call you where it will, but please not in the bushes or behind the band shell.