Family Life

Dawn Reed

When I was little, my Mom took me to public restrooms when necessary. I can remember her paying ten cents for all of us to use the bathroom at Murphy’s. There were six of us so it was crucial to get in. Sometimes we slipped in to the Mountaineer Hotel and used the bathroom in luxury. It was on the mezzanine though I didn’t know what mezzanine meant.

She taught us to put toilet paper on the seat before use. It might seem like just a tiny layer of thin tissue, but it had magical powers to protect us from all diseases that lurked in public restrooms. I’m over 50 and still a believer. It works for the most part, but is kind of tricky when you’ve been swimming…

We were on vacation last week. After staying out on the beach for several hours, I headed to the restroom by the pool.

I did my business and put everything back in place. (It’s hard to do that when you’re wet.) When I opened the stall door, I saw one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life. (I was sure I heard angel music playing.) She was like a goddess, young and tall with bronze skin. She wore a bikini that was perfect for her; it was turquoise with gold on it. (Cleopatra would have worn one just like it!) I nodded to her and mumbled ‘hello’ in Spanish with a country accent. I tried not to stare because she was so beautiful; it hurt my eyes to look at her. I felt all of my 50+ years washing my hands beside her.

I checked myself in the big mirror by the door. It was the first day so I was wearing my new and favorite bathing suit-lime green, white and navy blue. It covers everything and has a swim skirt-like the bronze beauty’s mother probably wears. Everything looked OK so I turned to leave.

Suddenly, behind me, the Brazilian goddess was saying, “Scusi! Scusi!” (I had to look that up. I couldn’t figure out how to spell it. I think it’s Italian for ‘excuse me’.) So, the-maybe-Italian goddess was calling to me. I stopped in my tracks. What did she want?! Did she need help?

And that is exactly when I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me…The goddess pointed to me and then rubbed the back of her legs. She may have muttered the word paper but I’ve blocked it out. It only took me a micro-second to get what she was trying to tell me.

I HAD TOILET PAPER ON MY LEGS!!! AGAIN…I HAD TOILET PAPER ON MY LEGS!!! “I put it on the seat!” I nearly shrieked. “I put it on the seat” I repeated and made hand motions so she would know what I was trying to say in my country English. She left in all of her beautiful-ness while I was left picking paper off my thighs, mortified.

I didn’t wear my new bathing suit the rest of the week. I didn’t want the goddess to recognize me! My beloved said that she probably would anyway.

I wonder if Brazilian or Italian Moms tell their kids to put paper down.

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