One day last summer, we were at some outdoor event when the “urge to go” came upon me and I sauntered over to the porta-john just in time to hear a young fellow muttering about the fact that there “ought to be a law requiring that a place to wash your hands be put in these things.”
I didn’t say anything, but I was thinking that a place to turn around would also improve the place.
I’m not sure when the notion that it is absolutely necessary to wash one’s hands after using the facilities took hold but I can tell you for sure that when I was growing up there were over 50 outhouses on Blair Branch including two at the school and two at the church house, and not a single one of them was equipped with a wash pan or bucket.
Never once when I was growing up did I hear an anxious mother ask children if they had washed their hands after a trip to the outhouse, but I saw it happen at the old Richmond mall just recently.
A young woman, mother I presume, was leaned up against the wall just outside the restroom doors, impatiently tapping one foot and glancing at her watch every few seconds before two little boys about six years old came tearing out of the bathroom.
“Well it’s about time,” she grumbled. “Did you two wash your hands?”
The boys looked at each other, dumbfounded. Then they turned their palms up for inspection and shrugged. One of them said, “I don’t remember.
The other one said, “We probably didn’t because I don’t think we turned the blower on“, as though turning the hand dryer on was something he’d never forget for the rest of his life.
By now Mom has her hands on her hips and her forehead is wrinkled into the frown of long suffering.
“Well get back in there right now and hurry it up. We don’t have all day,” she grumbled.
The boys swapped looks with one another and went tearing back into the restroom while Mom, face clouded with exasperation, resumed her cross-legged lean against the wall, tapping her toes and rapidly glancing at her watch.
She was obviously in a hurry over something, but it would have to wait until two little boys had washed their hands because it’s untelling what they might have touched.
I suppose that washing up after taking a leak is the sanitary thing to do, but I have never heard of anyone dying because they failed to wash their hands and I seriously doubt that any dreadful diseases have ever been spread by someone who forgot or refused to wash his or her hands after or during a trip to the toilet.
The other day Loretta was eating an apple and I asked if I could have a bite.
“When’s the last time you washed your hands” she demanded?
“I’ll just go get myself an apple,” I replied.