You all know my mother. She’s written many a travel tale on these pages. Well, thirty-three years ago right now, she was something like twenty hours into the mighty feat of shoving me into the world. As thanks for that, I give you this post.
I’d like to note that my mom is typically a classy lady. She can recite poetry–and not dirty limericks, I mean real poems. She has china cabinets sufficient for holding a good portion of the stash of the British Museum. She had the most perfectly coiffed bangs in the ’80s. But this particular topic somehow came up when we were hanging out the other weekend, and so I decided to share with you all, and name the post just as she suggested.
As a child of the roadtrip and the campground, I’m familiar with using unconventional bathrooms. I have gone to the bathroom behind many trees, in many bushes, and definitely at least once while wearing a romper (as a little girl, not as an adult hipster) in tall grass by the side of the highway. I have used leaves as toilet paper, which gave me a good reason to learn to identify poison ivy accurately at an early age.
When I got older and started traveling abroad, I carried my own toilet paper to try to avoid having to pay for it in certain bathrooms in Europe. Sometimes this worked just fine. Sometimes I had to pay anyway. And in one particular incident, in a train station in Vienna, I got into a bilingual and mutually unintelligible shouting match with a woman who was supposed to be collecting euros at the bathroom door. When I entered the bathroom, she was nowhere to be seen, having abandoned her post momentarily. As I was washing my hands, she reappeared and began demanding money from me. I was traveling on a very frayed shoestring and could see absolutely no reason why, business accomplished, I should have to give her fifty cents. She tried to block my way out of the bathroom, but I was bigger than her, and much more American.
But the incident that had my classy mother cracking up was my experience with squat toilets in Turkey. I didn’t run into many, but there were a few, and I had trouble navigating them. It’s a tricky maneuver if you’re not used to it. I’m sure there’s a tutorial somewhere on YouTube if you’d like more detailed instructions. I managed OK in a park toilet and in a restaurant bathroom, but the one that threw me off–somewhat literally–was the one on the ferry from the European to the Asian side of Istanbul. If you’re already having trouble balancing in an awkward position, imagine how much more difficult it is when you’re rolling on the open water.
Well, there’s your post, Mom. Thanks for giving me life, so I could have all of these crazy experiences and write about them on the Internet.