One of my favourite books is an odd little 128 page novella called The Lady Who Liked Clean Restrooms written by J. P. Donleavy who gained critical acclaim with his first novel, The Ginger Man, which is one of the Modern Library’s 100 best novels.
Our main character Joy was an elegant forty-two-year-old recently divorced woman whose television executive husband dumped her for a younger woman. She was forced to sell her home, adopt a very frugal lifestyle and had to find thrifty pastimes. All Joy could truly afford were memberships to New York’s finest museums. There was one slight hitch though. The rest rooms were not up to Joy’s standards so she adopted a personal hobby of making public ‘pottydoms’ satisfactory.
This story really hit home as I swear I should be hired to evaluate public washrooms. On a four day bus trip to California I could tell anyone which Greyhound bus washroom was safe and which one you needed a shot of penicillin before you entered. When I was pregnant with my two sons I had all the clean potty locations nailed down in every mall in Ottawa. They do Zagat reviews of restaurants so why not do a book on restrooms? I would most certainly buy it.
I never use a washroom that emits certain fragrances, or toilets that are surrounded with water on the floor. That’s just asking for some publicly transmitted disease. The best washrooms and I kid you not are in your public libraries. The one in downtown Berkeley that I used to use has marble floors, soap dispensers that work and toilets that are quiet when flushed. When I had my last kidney infection I held out for that one and nothing else.
Any washroom I go into that has writing on the walls makes me wonder if any hanky panky has been committed before I got in there. What possibly went on in this stall that warranted so much merit that it had to be documented on the door in front of me
I recently read about the junior scientists who did a study on ice cubes and appeared on Oprah. Apparently ice cubes made in restaurants have more bacteria in them than the water in a public washroom toilet. I don’t know where these kids got the toilet water for their project but it was good enough for me. I no longer ask for ice cubes in my drinks at any food establishment. I also must add that I also never drink water from a bathroom sink. No, not even my own!
My grandmother always told me that ladies should only pee in clean washrooms. I never really could understand her reasoning when I used to see her large drawers hover barely 1/8 of an inch from an obviously “malaria stricken” public washroom floor. I hate any hidden surprises when I open a stall door and I cannot understand people that wash their hands thoroughly yet grab the parasite infected door handle upon exiting.
In essence I should have probably been a man because they have it made. At least I would have the sense to lift the seat up!