I had to go to the bathroom and so did Jim McCall, the owner of Roseville Travel.
Yes, this is a snippet from the Stone Age circa 1982 where people actually used storefront travel agencies to book trips.
We were in Chignaquapan in the State of Puebla in Mexico.
Jim had arranged the travel for a delegation of 88 people from Roseville as part of a sister city visitation.
Nature had called while the group was getting a tour of a new “working class” tourist destination” — a hot springs resort that was still partially under construction in the long-filled-in lip of a dormant volcano.
One of the hosts directed us to the bathroom that was part of the stone and brick structure hugging the volcano’s wall. There were two wide entrances to the bathroom. Neither had doors. It was a spacious room. There where no sinks. And there was nothing close to a porcelain throne.
Instead in the middle of the room there was a large square filled with water.
You stepped up to a tiled platform and then — depending upon what you had to do and what gender you were — you went about your business.
I had to do the No. 1 so it was a no brainer.
Did I mention, however, there were a half dozen or so other people using the facility and five of them were women?
To do the No. 2, you had to turn around, drop your pants and extend your bottom over a narrow tiled edge.
I was wearing a dark blue suit at the time.
Jim — and I’m not making this up — was wearing a white leisure suit complete with white dress shoes and white socks.
The other charm was water was seeping over the edge in spots creating a mess on the floor and the unitarian seat.
Jim, who at the time had traveled in more Third World countries than the number of years I’d been on the planet, took one look, said “oh well, I’ve got to go,” turned around, dropped his white polyester pants while being careful to keep them from making contact with the wet floor, and sat down.
As for me, I wanted to go and get out of there as fast as I could.
Seconds later a woman wearing a traditional dress of the day for rural Mexico came in, sat down in a vacant area next to Jim and did what she had to do.
It’s safe to say she wasn’t embarrassed a bit which was the exact opposite side of the scale where I was at.
During my wait outside for Jim in the corridor, other women and men entered the bathroom and left.
It isn’t the first time I’ve shared public restrooms with women.
There have been perhaps a dozen times or so over the years at public venues such as sporting events, theatrical productions, and such, that women have come into bathrooms while I others were using the urinals. In each case they headed for the stalls.
Why? Because supposedly brilliant American architects and/or engineers that design public buildings have a nasty habit of not taking into account how different genders function and almost routinely fail to provide enough stalls in women’s bathrooms.
It is a heck of a lot quicker for a guy to do the No. 1 and to do so standing up at a urinal than it is for a woman to do the same function.
And, like Jim said, “if you’ve got to go you’ve got to go.”
Fast-forward to the early 1990s.
It’s about an attack that happened in a local high school bathroom afterschool when the campus was a bigger safety sieve than it was before the school district started its methodical program of making the campus whole and secure.
A female student was cornered and attacked in a bathroom. The adult assailant had wandered onto the campus. It was an extremely easy thing to do back in 1993.
Using the aforementioned as a prism to view the transgender bathroom debate that is passionately consuming a good segment of the debate in our public squares whether they are school board meetings, state legislatures, or the Internet it makes you wonder about our American perspective, what levels of dangers are we talking about, and whether we are focused on the right pressing needs when it comes to public restrooms.
Americans — based on how most of the rest of the world approaches accommodating the need to go to the bathroom in public places — could fairly be called prudish.
That’s not a judgment on whether it is right or wrong approach to embrace. It’s just that if you doubt that travel to most parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America and use their public facilities. Many were unisex centuries before the term “unisex” was coined. (Unisex, by the way, is not a reference to gender blending or whatever the appropriate woke term du jour is. It means both sexes using the same public bathroom.)
And to make sure that’s understood, that means all human beings whether they see their gender as male, female, transgender, gender neutral or the 40 plus other options that Mark Zuckerberg — who at his core is a very wealthy capitalist and not a social warrior — opts to let you chose on Facebook to how to describe your gender.
It should also be pointed out that pedophiles are pedophiles regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. If you disagree I can bend your ear until it turns blue.
None of this is to dismiss the fact that there have been attacks in public restrooms. But if shared public restrooms are the green light for such attacks in public places, then it must be a rampant world health and safety crisis that is occurring with nary a peep of outrage. The exception, of course, is in our debate over whether transgenders can use public restrooms.
And let’s be blunt. It’s also based on the assumption that transgenders have a much higher propensity to have rapists among their ranks than straights or gays.
If we are really worried about sexual predators use their non-DNA assigned gender as a cover to commit rape in bathrooms, then why isn’t anyone concerned about gays doing the same thing or — here’s the biggie — pedophiles who, studies and statistics show, attack children of both sexes?
There unfortunately have always been incidents of women being raped by men in bathrooms even when there were bathrooms provided for both genders.
A rapist is a rapist. Someone who is straight is straight. Someone who is gay is gay. Someone who is a pedophile is a pedophile. And yes, someone can be transgender, gay or straight, or a pedophile and be a rapist.
The real question with public bathrooms is making sure there are adequate numbers and that they address overall health and safety concerns.
While even one rape is intolerable blaming a whole class of individuals whether that is defined by gender, skin tone, ethnicity, religion, occupation or whatever measure you want on the actions of a small handful of its membership is wrong as well.
And by the way, that safety and comfort thing can cut both ways.
Just how safe is a boy that is transgender and either dresses, styles makeup/hair, or acts like most would expect a girl to do would be in a men’s bathroom?
What we need to do is hold individuals responsible for their transgressions and create environments where forcing one’s self on another is unacceptable regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of either the predator or the victim.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Courier or 209 Multimedia.