Marlene Ratledge Buchanen

We all have them. Little things that drive us to distraction, if not to downright bonkers. On the way to Florida on “Time Snell,” James and I started listing our pet peeves.

When I said James’ room was one of my pet peeves, he said, “Mom going into my room and making a comment,” was one of his. We now keep the door closed. If I go into his room now, I bite my tongue.



Some of my other pet peeves include:

Car lights: Turn them on. If it is raining, foggy, dusk, dawn or just plain dark. Turn on your lights. If you can see me, it doesn’t mean I can see you.

My biggest pet peeve: Public Restrooms.
Heaven knows I am happy that they exist and we don’t have to use outhouses anymore, but public restrooms do present a few issues for me. I am not even going to address the problem of the limited number of women restroom stalls in public places. I have been known to commandeer the men’s room in the past, and I am not afraid to do it again. At this time, I am addressing the problems of the individual stall, comfort zone, escape place.

You know that it must have been a skinny man who designed women’s restrooms. Only a man would put all the doors on the women’s restroom stalls so that they opened IN. They should open OUT. OUT!!!

Try being fluffy and puffy and getting through that door with everything you have with you. Stalls are usually narrow. That is why fluffy-puffy women all want the handicapped bathroom. We are handicapped in spaces not large enough for us. A three- foot- wide space containing a toilet paper holder, a wall- mounted trash can and a grown woman is a recipe for disaster.

Then add a toddler. Try getting in the stall with a toddler, a pocketbook and any purchases. Heaven help you if it is winter and you have jackets with you, too. It is nearly impossible. You can’t leave the little kid outside the bathroom door. People are nuts these days. Little ones can wander off, lock themselves in another stall, get abducted, or even swallow a piece of gum and choke to death before you can get the door open to let yourself out.

And yes, we do take little boys into the women’s room. I am pleased that today more men’s restrooms have changing tables, but it is still mostly the women who deal with the children. Little boys cannot be sent into men’s public bathrooms unless Mama or Daddy goes in with them. My little boy is 36 years old, but sometimes when I see some questionable looking men entering the public bathrooms, I want to either take James in with me or go in with him. Nut cases, perverts, and more weirdos are out there. Maybe I am paranoid, but I don’t think so.

Once you and your adorable little one (who needs to go to the bathroom so badly that he or she is doing the tinkle dance) get in the stall, more adventures await. There are never toilet seat covers. Or if there are, there isn’t enough time to line the seat because the baby has to go NOW. With little boys, pray for good aim. With little girls, carry extra panties and tights. You have slung your purse around your neck. You are attempting to get the tyke’s underthings out of the way and get the baby on the seat without dropping him or her into the toilet or falling in face first yourself. Remember the gravitational pull of that 22-pound pocketbook around your neck?

Once the child has taken care of business, you remember—“oh yeah, I need to go, too. Dang.“ Station junior against the inside of the stall door. Manipulate yourself, your purse, your packages, and several jackets around to your front so you can use the bathroom. Remember at the last second that you forgot to wipe the toilet seat after your darling had proceeded to release three quarts of liquid all over the seat and the floor. Of course, you are wearing pants. Be sure to pull your pants legs up to your knees so that you don’t get them damp. Don’t drop anything. Be sure to grab junior just before he tries to crawl out from under the door.

If you get in, you have to get out. Remember the skinny man who designed the stall doors to open inward? You have to pull that door back in to get outside. Do not hit your kid with the door as that could be counted as child abuse. Don’t drop anything on the floor because the floors are nasty. Little kids and some other people piddle more on the floor and seat than in the bowl. Go back and double check that you got all your packages and the junior’s favorite toy. You know the one. He just threw it on the floor in a tantrum because he could. It is wedged between the toilet and the wall.

And how about this-- do you have more than one child? Well, tough noogies. You have to hope no one abducts the child with the largest bladder who was left standing outside. Alone. Most of the stalls are so tight that you can’t turn around. You have one kid on the toilet, and another one is standing and waiting, probably doing the tinkle dance. Toilet training loses a lot of ground with public restrooms.

Please clean up after yourself. Use paper towels to sit on or at least wipe the seat when you have finished your job. Wet toilet seats--- YUCK! We, women, try to wipe and dry the seat before we use the facilities, but sometimes there is no time. Balancing above the seat guarantees a wet seat, splattered underwear and possibly dampening all of our clothing. Contortionists are the only women who can use a restroom without touching anything.

Why do all the hooks on the toilet doors have to be missing? And the locks? Have you ever tried using the bathroom with a broken or missing lock? First, you must sling your pocketbook around your neck. Now put one hand out so the door can’t open all the way. You can never have arms long enough to close the door completely. Line up all of your purchases down the arm not holding the door. Finish your business. Now wipe? With what? There is no toilet paper. And with which hand? Attempt to keep the door closed with your head while you search for a crumpled piece of tissue to attend to the job. Drop tissue on the floor. Find another. Preferably one that doesn’t have a postage stamp or chewing gum stuck to it.

If you are lucky, there is some stranger outside the stall that will hold the door closed for you. In return, you do the same thing for her. Close friendships can be forged in such times of trials and tribulations.

And door hangers for your stuff. If present at all, they are at the right height to have your purse beat your brains out while you are trying to get up off the toilet, with the paper seat cover stuck to your behind. Most of the time they are missing. Hang your purse on the corner of the door and hope no thief grabs it while you are preoccupied.

The older you get, the older your bladder is. You may have once been young and limber. Now only the muscles to your bladder are limber. So limber that if you hear water running, you start running. Ladies, do your Kegel exercises. Not for sex, but so you don’t wet your pants with every sneeze, cough, laugh or thought of weeing. And always remember, the first thing you do when you go somewhere new is find the restrooms.

Let’s solve this pet peeve for women. Make the stalls large enough for a grown up. Design them, so the doors open outward. Have adequate toilet paper. Put several hooks on the doors so that stuff can be placed out of the way. Make them sturdy enough not to be snapped off by some woman who is trying to get free of her entrapment in the bathroom.