Monday, July 09, 2007
Emily Post and Potty Etiquette
Camping brings with it only a few rules of etiquette. Don’t walk through another camper’s campsite. Don’t touch other camper’s stuff. Don't peer into other's tents or campers. Don't burn trash - it stinks to high heaven and we're all out there to take in that woodsy smell. Don’t stare at each other, at night in the bathhouse, while everyone is getting ready for bed - brushing and flossing your teeth, washing your face, etc...

Most campers have a few rules for their camper itself. No smoking. No cooking sauerkraut or fish. And, ahem, the bathhouse is available for anything more serious than a quick potty stop. Since Don is the one who does the ‘empty the horrible hoses’ when we leave our campsite, he got to set that rule. Even if it’s pouring rain, middle of the night, whatever. You just plan accordingly. The only exception to this rule is anyone under 9, or over 75. Age has it’s privileges.

This past weekend we camped at a beautiful state park, where we’d been 4 years earlier. Upon arriving at the campsite we were surprised to see that it had been completely redone. The campsites were lovely, with nice fire pits, hooks for lanterns, all sites had been situated to take in the view of the beautiful lake. The previous bathhouse had been torn down, and a brand new one was built. It had roomy showers, 3 bathroom stalls, faucets with movement sensors sent forth water at just the right temperature, full soap dispensers. Ceramic tile for pete’s sake, and skylights set in the sloping ceiling, letting in the day’s sunlight to brighten up the place.

Following our family's personal rules of camping, when it became necessary one evening, I walked down to the bathhouse, and went into a stall. The fact that someone was next to me didn't thrill me, but much like college dorms, camping doesn’t always offer completely privacy, which is why some people camp at Holiday Inn. There are a few times humans avoid looking at themselves, or should. Pulling a lycra camisole over your still damp body, immediately after a shower comes to mind, a few others do also but I’ll not mention them here, and visiting the restroom facilities for more than a thirty second stay fits in this category. As I settled in, I did the normal 'look around at the floor' thing because camping stalls do not come with reading material. I checked out the new stall walls - no interesting graffiti to read. What style of TP dispenser did they choose? The usual fascinating stuff. As I was just about ready to tidy up and leave, I glanced up toward the skylight. I saw a woman wearing a mint green shell top. Within two seconds I remembered I had on a YELLOW t-shirt. Mortified, I glanced back down before making eye contact with what I now realized was the woman next to me!!! Horror of horrors, the only thing worse than watching one’s self at that time is watching someone else, unrelated to you, who is not under the age of 5 and requiring some assistance (in which case they'd be the exception to aforementioned rule and would be using the camper facilities.)

Thank the Lord 'woman in mint green shell top' didn’t look up at that same moment. I waited a few more minutes, til I heard her leave the stall, wash her hands, and leave the bathhouse to avoid the further embarassment of us making actual eye contact at the sink area. After she'd left, I again glanced up and tilted my head. Sure enough, there sat a woman in a YELLOW t-shirt, looking up at me. We somewhat acknowledged each other, then we both glanced away in observance of camping etiquette, and I fled (after washing my hands of course.....).

I used to think a few skylights in our home would be nice. Looking up to see puffy clouds, or snow falling, or a fierce rainstorm. Long as they’re only in rooms where everyone stays dressed, that might still be okay. I now realize when it gets to be nighttime, you’ve got yourself a full-length mirror staring right back at you. And who the heck ever puts one of those in their bathroom, right above the potty. I’m confident Emily Post would nix that one.


  posted at 6:07 PM

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