Much Ado About The Loo (A Reflection On and About Public Restrooms, Among Other Things)

I remember Spider-man whining about how having superpowers is both a blessing and a curse.

You know what I think is both a blessing and a curse? PUBLIC RESTROOMS.

Public restrooms provide the momentary, but immediate and much-needed comfort and relief. It’s not meant to, but it often serves as a witness and venue for when certain matters/issues need to be dealt with privately. Most of the time, at least in my case, it is where I get the most meaningful reflections and the best creative ideas for writing. Am I the only one who reflects, meditates, or composes essays while peeing?

Public restrooms are a blessing.

All these are quickly disregarded though when you chance upon a public restroom smelling foul. While I know it’s not supposed to smell like your own bathroom, I feel the smell should at least be neutral or clean. Or like a bathroom cleanser, maybe? The foul smell assures you the place has not been properly maintained, and that the stench will more or less stick to your clothes better than magnet on steel. The smell is an assault to the senses. Scratch that. The smell and appearance are an assault to the senses.

One restroom I frequent was recently renovated, and with that came a few new facilities. It now has a huge mirror. The tiles have been changed, too. Gone are the yellowish-used-to-be-white ones it once had. The cubicle doors are likewise brand new, with fully-functioning locks. Gone are the days when I had to hold onto the door while semi-squatting on the toilet. That, by the way, is every woman’s hidden talent. Take a bow, ladies.

Blessings, right?

Not quite. Not with the additional provision of bidets in every cubicle. This one’s a menace. A menace, I tell you.

But first, a brief vocabulary lesson. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines the word ‘bidet’ as “a bathroom fixture used especially for bathing the external genitals and the anal region.” It’s clear which part of one’s body bidets are meant to clean. And although I understand why this particular fixture was provided, I can’t help but also think how bad of an idea it is, particularly in a public restroom. I, for one, feel it’s very unhygienic to have or use bidets in public restrooms, but that’s just me. And this is even assuming, bidets are used properly – correctly. Here’s a thought: what if it is not?

Since the renovation and the installation of bidets, I have never seen this particular restroom this filthy. The cubicle floors are always flooded with puddles of water, and the seats are always doused with a mixture of water and urine. With all the amount of water, err –liquid, you see, you’d think at least the inside of the toilet is clean, right? I give people way too much credit and benefit of the doubt, I know, because it seems with the newly-installed bidets, people have forgotten how to use the toilet flush. Of course, the sink counter is not spared. It would take a whole of effort to leave the restroom with a dry shirt after brushing your teeth.

Unrest and discomfort.  Curses!

From public restrooms and other office or school facilities, to social media, free speech and expression, suffrage – these are all reasons to be thankful. Blessings. If only we do not abuse them. Curses.

But borrowing the words of Uncle Ben in Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Just like with everything you own, have, and enjoy, you have to value it, take care of it, and respect everyone else who uses or has it. You lose that, then everything just plainly becomes a curse, for you and for everyone else.

I still use this particular restroom, mainly because more often I don’t have a choice but to. I still wish for a day when I get to see it in pristine condition, meaning no stench, no unrecognizable liquid in sight — a place that can actually live up to its name — a comfort room.

 

But until then, as with everything else (other public facilities, social media, free speech and expression, suffrage), I will continue to proceed with care and caution, I continue to arm myself with enough toilet paper, (p)wet wipes, and alcohol with every visit.

If You Have Nothing Nice To Say…

Mom and I had our haircuts the other day.

While I was having mine, and mom was waiting for me, an elderly lady came in and started chatting up my stylist. When she noticed my very short hair (I now have a pixie with an undercut), she asked my mom, “Lalaki ba yang anak mo?“(Is your child a boy?) To which my mom politely replied, “Ay, babae po.” (Oh no. She’s a girl.) I heard what she asked despite the hair blower practically screaming at my ear, but I just gave her a smile.

When I was done, she sat next to me and promptly told my stylist she wants the same haircut as mine, but also quickly added, “Kasi may nanliligaw sa akin. Para di na niya ako ligawan. Ikaw, hija, hindi ka dapat nagpapagupit ng ganyan. Hindi ka naman pala tomboy. Ganda ka pa naman.” (Because I have a suitor, whom I want to stop pursuing me. You shouldn’t be having your hair cut that way if you want someone to pursue you. It’s a shame because you are pretty and not lesbian. Your hair shouldn’t be that short.)  I was stunned, but I didn’t say anything and just smiled. There are other battles that are more worth winning.

I am very adventurous when it comes to my hair, in fact right now, I am at my shortest cut, but that does not mean I am lesbian. I am straight. I appreciate women, but I like men. I know I don’t even have to declare or explain it. No one has to really, but sometimes, people have to be told. And so what if I am? A difference in preference does not make one less of a person.

We tend to do that, don’t we? We see a man who’s more refined compared to other men, “Bakla yan.” (He’s gay.) We see a woman with short hair, “Tomboy yan.(She’s a lesbian.) We see a person who just doesn’t smile or laugh as much as most of us, “Masama ugali niyan.” (He/She is a rude person.)

We are quick to judge. We are quick to isolate. We are quick to offend. We are quick to hurt. That’s just sad.

Personally, I don’t really care what people think of me.  Everyone is entitled to his opinion anyway. I’d just like to believe I am now wise enough to know that not all opinions are important.

Petty Rant

​I was looking forward to my Saturday, not my usual Saturday. I was looking forward to an extra hour of sleep, as I haven’t been getting any for the past few nights; downtime with family; and maybe a trip to the bookshop. 

This morning, however, instead of waking up to the usual chirping of birds, and Marshie happily and excitedly barking, waiting for me to come out of my room, I was greeted by our neighbor, belting out on a videoke Timmy Cruz’s I Love You, Boy, on full blast. 

I was annoyed, and at eleven o’clock in the morning, heard myself ranting and complaining, completely contradicting the Saturday I had originally envisioned. 

I took my usual cold shower and got to thinking (yes, I do a lot of thinking in the shower – – – cold, always.), what am I ranting about? The noise? The inconsiderate loud music (noise) playing? Petty things that I’ve allowed to ruin my day before it even started. Petty things. So, I finished my shower and resolved to not making a big deal out of the ‘noise that’s ruining my calm’. 

Fast-forward. It’s 7:30pm, and the videoke thumping of my neighbor has not seen its end, not even close. In fact, it’s much rowdier and noisier than this morning. 

If anything, and only because I choose to see the good in this situation, it’s teaching me to be hopeful (that like most things, this too shall end), understanding (that people have different means of letting off steam – – – this is my neighbor’s unfortunate way), and patient (of things I cannot control – – – actually, I can especially if it won’t let up). 

Take a brief rewind to this morning of what I resolved not to do – – – rant, and here I am, a few hours after, doing that. 

This isn’t the Saturday I had hoped and planned for. I would just have to look forward to Sunday then.