In Which I Discuss My Hughes-like Peculiarities
I freely admit that I am a person riddled with peculiarities. My devotion to Don Knotts movies, my McDonald toy collection, my yo-yos, my book fetish -- it's enough to drive the average woman to distraction. My long-suffering wife has put up with a lot over the years, but there's one peculiarity of mine that puzzles and often angers her -- my refusal to use a public restroom.
It isn't that I won't use one, it's that I won't use one in any situation where I'm required to sit down. Recently, we were uptown having a family holiday outing when I announced to my wife that I needed to go home to "use the facilities."
"Basil, would you please just this once go in a public place?" Ann rolled her eyes. "We'll find you a clean place. How about McDonalds or Wendys?"
I shook my head. "I can't do it. Let's run home for just a second and then we can come back."
My daughter Mary leaned forward from the back seat. "Daddy, Momma and I have to sit down in public toilets all the time and it hasn't hurt us."
I looked over my shoulder at her. "Do you scrub the seat down with paper towels before you sit down like Daddy told you? There's germs all over those things, you know."
She sat back. "You're one funny boy, daddy."
"If we go home, this outing is over," said Ann. "It doesn't make sense to drive home, let you use the bathroom, then drive back up town."
"Why not?" I asked. "Everything in this one-horse town is only 10 minutes from our house. It's only a little detour."
"If we go home, that's it for the day," she repeated firmly. "What's it gonna be?"
I sighed. "Let's call it a day, then. I really need to go." Thus ended the family outing.
I've come gradually over the years to view public restrooms as public purveyors of germs and filth. When I walk into one, I generally never touch anything with my hands that I don't have to. I've noticed over the years that probably 80% of all men in public restrooms don't wash their hands when they leave, so anything they touch is liable to be contaminated. This includes door handles, faucets and hand-drying machines. When I flush the urinal, I use my elbow to depress the lever. I use a paper towel to protect my hand while I turn the water on, and when opening the door to leave. I'll generally even hold my breath as much as possible when in a public restroom -- you can breathe in germs from those places, you know.
Yes, maybe this behavior is a bit peculiar, but I haven't yet gone the Howard Hughes route. Howard reportedly covered his floors in newspapers, walked around with tissue-paper boxes on his feet and wore nothing other than pajama bottoms held up with a cord. My fingernails aren't long, my hair is clean and I bathe every day. Count your blessings, dear wife. If I start urinating in mason jars, don't bath for a few months, and eat nothing but ice cream and chicken noodle soup, then you can start worrying.