Thursday, May 31, 2018
what do the pope and a bear have in common?
Some questions continually plague travelers.
Such as, why do some Mexican rest stops (such as, the one at the volcano just outside Colima) have urinals installed so high on the wall that Wilt Chamberlain would struggle to use them? Did a governor's mathematically-challenged cousin get the contract? Or are they for the exclusive use of an unknown group of Mexicans (la raza alta?) who travel only under the mantle of darkness?
For about a year, I had asked my Mexican friends why the urinals are often set so high in public bathrooms. No one had a good answer. My friend Alan (you may recall him from cart of laughs) provided the most practical response. "Who cares? I always use the toilet."
Unlike Alan, I am always attuned to the peculiarities of roadside bathrooms. And I found a doozy last week in Oregon at a rest stop just south of Portland on I-5. I know that several of you have stopped there.
I thought in my absence Oregon had turned some sort of green corner. Men #1? Men #2?
Now, where I was raised, #1 and #2 have very specific meanings in this context. Had recycling actually gone that far with our -- waste? And how do we avoid commingling our recyclables? It reminded me of one of Mr. Burns's wittiest lines: "Yes, well, it does sound delightful! I can't wait to start pawing through my garbage like some starving raccoon!"
It turned out that #1 was closed. But that was not a problem. After all the rest stop sits in a copse of Douglas fir. And men have been resolving that number amongst the trees from time immemorial.
Or, at least, that was the excuse I was going to use if any of the police, who usually stake out the place for people indulging in blind date sexual trysts, tapped me on the shoulder in mid-stream. I could see the magistrate's face beaming at my bon mot.
While I was working out that scenario in front of the sign, my sainted brother tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out that the #1 and #2 designated the presence of two bathrooms, not their function. He and Alan must have taken the same problem-solving class.
Rather than spending time in the local hoosegow, I am back in Mexico pondering those thyroid-case urinals.
I may take a soap box with me on my next trip passing the volcanoes. You know the one. I am standing on it right now.