Yes, it’s a song. Well, now it is. Sort of. It’s more of an odyssey…
Doofenshmirtz and I were having lunch in the garden of a café at the corner of Grove and Bleeker Streets in Manhattan. It was a beautiful day, and we were just down the street from the “Friends’ Apartment”, so we thought we would do a little sightseeing after we ate.
Four famous New Yorkers have all given me the same advice (okay, they are my grandfather, aunt, uncle and mother…so maybe not famous to YOU. But they kind of rank up there in my world. And…technically, they are New Jerseyans, not New Yorkers. But that’s close enough. Wait, my mother was born in New York, so that does make her a New Yorker. And I honestly have no idea where everyone else was born. I suppose they could have been born in Delaware…which would make them, what, Delawarians? Or Connecticut…and then they would be Connecticuttians. Really? Is that a thing? If they were from Maine, are they Mainards? Ha ha! This could take up most of my morning. Seriously, if Doofenshmirtz wants breakfast now, she’s on her own… Okay, I’ll attempt to circle back. No, wait, people always get such heartburn over whether or not someone is from New York or New Jersey. Let’s just say they’ve ALL spent enough time in Manhattan to be credible sources for the advice I’m about to share with you, so don’t give anyone crap about crossing the Hudson. And for the record, I’m a Jersey girl myself, so I will cut you.)
I think the word you are looking for now is…”anyway”… (“Friends’ reference. See what I did there?)
The advice was this: Never pass up a bathroom in New York City…whether you have to go or not.
It was, and is, sage advice. Anyone who has traveled here can testify to that. And that is exactly why, before leaving the café, I popped back inside to head to the loo.
Let me first tell you that as we entered the café initially, the hostess pointed out no less than three steps (ranging from good sized to practically non-existent) to mind as we walked toward the garden, and I took great care to not trip over them as I made my way back towards the bar.
I reached a doorway we had passed on the way in, with a sign overhead which read “mind the steps” (and, yes, I do mind…but that’s another story), and another sign for the restroom with an arrow indicating it was down (WAY down) stairs. I turned and looked at the exceptionally steep staircase. The steps were made of wood, and were probably as old as the building (150 years?) and the center of each one was almost completely gone. Gone? I pictured walking up and down stairs, and your feet always land on the sides, don’t they? So the middle was worn from, what? Years of dragging bodies down there? I shuddered, but headed down anyway.
Each step groaned an creaked (hey, I only had yogurt and granola for lunch, so don’t judge) and I clung to the railing, which ended and began again halfway down. I was very aware that my clumsiness could lead to either a fantastic blog, or hospitalization.
I made it to the bottom, unscathed. I performed a small celebratory dance and opened the door marked “Ladies” (and a shout out to the very French café for not doing that “cute” thing and marking it “Filles”, or drawing a poodle and making me figure out that it was female or whatever. There is a time and place for puzzles, and forcing people who have had a bit to drink and then managed to navigate a dangerous staircase to solve one is just cruel.)
The room was a one-seater. As I closed the door behind me, I slid the bolt to lock it, and realized that the bolt was on the inside of the door frame, and the door opened in. I looked to see if maybe there was a hole that it was supposed to slide into. I even jiggled the door, thinking it would slide INTO something, but it never did. Since getting walked in on is not one of my favorite things, I reached for the doorknob to leave, and saw a push-button on the knob. Sigh… Fine. I locked the door and headed for the toilet.
The bathroom had clearly been updated more recently than the stairs. The sink was a lovely pedestal with a slightly extended front lip. It sat directly in front of the toilet. Now, you men may not know this, but when women go in a public restroom, we “hover”. It’s one of the most difficult maneuvers we do as women. I could write an entire book (okay, maybe just an extra-long blog) about that subject, but I won’t. For now at least.
While attempting the “hover”, I managed to whack my head on the lip of the sink.
Not bleeding, but dazed, I searched for the toilet paper. It wasn’t anywhere I could see. I reached around and discovered it was perched on the tank behind the toilet. After tearing a square (Seinfeld reference anyone?), I did the kind thing, and put the roll on the small table NEXT to the toilet for the next fille, or, poodle…whatever.
Standing at the sink to wash my hands, I pushed the arm of the metal soap dispenser located on the wall. Nothing. A couple more pushes. Still nothing. Aaargh! Just as I was resigned to the fact that I would have dysentery by the end of the day, I saw a bottle of liquid soap sitting on the sink. In front of me. Hurray for antibacterial!
Clean and sanitized, but dripping wet, I now pushed the button on the hand dryer located on the wall next to the sink (also next to the dysfunctional soap dispenser). Nothing. I pushed again. Still nothing. I noticed the cord hanging from it was not plugged into anything. Great. Oh wait, there was a paper towel dispenser next to the dysfunctional dryer. I put my hand up to pull one out. Nothing. I stuck my hand in further. I may have disrupted a spider or two, but there were no towels. This was really becoming a much longer trip than I had anticipated. I turned toward the toilet paper (which is really not the best solution in these cases) and noticed that there was a stack of paper towels on a wooden table in the corner. Eureka!
I dried my hands and looked for a trash can. I finally realized it was the silver “table” parked next to the toilet. It had a foot pedal, so (forgetting to remove the roll of toilet paper I had so considerately put there) I tapped on the pedal, launching the thoughtful roll of paper into the air and behind the toilet. Balls!
The next few minutes felt like a children’s song.
She unslid the bolt,
that wasn’t necessary,
to get out of the bathroom,
that had the wet toilet paper,
that she set on the tank,
instead of the trash can,
that held the used towels,
that she found on a table,
that sat in the corner,
across from the sink,
where she whacked her head,
before washing her hands (twice),
and looked for the soap,
that was not on the wall,
that housed the dryer,
that didn’t work,
that was next to the holder without the towels,
she now held in her hand,
to grab the knob,
with the push-button lock,
which opened the door,
that had a sign,
that read “Ladies”.
Remember when I mentioned that I was happy to see I wouldn’t have to solve a puzzle to figure out which door to open? If only I had known the puzzle was behind the door.