Powder room, ladies room, gent’s room, the facilities, the john, the potty, lavatory, washroom, toilet, etc – yes, the terms all mean the same but are not all the same. Uh-huh. My point today is cleanliness, which is next to Godliness.

Yep, I’ve made a survey. I pride myself on knowing the location of every public bathroom in the city and Lauderdale County – used most of them at one time or the other. I mean it’s important to pinpoint the powder room upon first arriving to a location, every location.

The Saints game – “Where’s the bathroom?” Four-wheeler, mud-riding deep in the piney woods – “Where’s the bathroom?” Floating the Chunky River – “Where’s the bathroom?” Paw Paw’s Pea-patch – “Where’s the bathroom?” You get the drift. I never intend to be more than twelve steps from the potty.

You remember, don’t you ladies? Searching frantically for the restroom, finally finding it, but there’s no toilet tissue. You search your pockets, your shoe, your purse – what, oh, what can I use? Then an answered prayer when you find an old worn-out wrapping from a stick of Juicy Fruit gum. From that time forward, Juicy Fruit has held a special meaning for you. Just like the Boy Scouts: Be Prepared.

Times like that are terrifying. Now I never leave my house without a wad of tissue in my purse or at least on my person, like stuck in my shoe or bra. The bra-thing sometimes is an asset in more ways than one. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Now if I come across a nasty public restroom, wherever it is, I mark the place off my list. I don’t care how delicious the food is or how entertaining, charming, or interesting the location, if the potty stinks or is without soap and/or toilet paper, I’m out of there – never to return.

Out of fairness, in this area, there are many more really nice facilities than bad ones. I’ll only mention a few of those nice ones today: (1) Burns & Burns Texaco, near the Interstate, is one of the very best. As a plus, they have a donut shop, too. (2) Weidmanns Restaurant. (3) The Daily Grind Coffee Shop (4) Meridian Public Library (5) Meridian Activities Center (6) MSU/Riley Center (7) Outback Restaurant.

The bad ones know who they are.

I remind you this is my survey and I am very picky. I don’t put up with that corn-cob-scratchy toilet paper. Remember, I have a wad on my person and also have Juicy Fruit in my purse. The toilet must flush, the soap dispenser must work, and I’m okay with either paper towels or hand dryers. The doors to toilet must shut and latch and absolutely no water on the floor.

I understand these conveniences for customers are expensive and I’m willing to pay a little extra to accommodate the cost. Also, occasionally, when I’m in the midst of a special-toilet-calling, I have visited a place, just to use the bathroom. Please don’t give me a mean look. We’ve all been there.

Everyone has that one (or maybe two) unforgettable bathroom experiences. Mine took place in Albuquerque, NM. My family and I were enjoying that one big-family-trip. We were traveling to the Grand Canyon, via our pull-along camper. It was nearing 9pm and we were only a few yards from our campsite, but I suddenly had an urgent need, therefore we pulled over to the campground’s large bathroom/shower facility. I ran into the place and plopped on the toilet. The facility was filled with happy campers, laughing, with joyful faces.

As I was getting situated I noticed the voices had become silent and then the lights went out. OMG, was I to be the victim of a serial killer? As my thoughts raced, I could imagine the headlines. “Lovely and charming Mississippi woman victim while using the toilet.” (Aww, come on, give me a break.) Once I caught my breath and began yelling for someone, I learned the lights were on timers. Whew!

Beware – my potty survey continues. I could pop into your place any day, at any time, so maybe you should give it the once-over.


Anne McKee is a Mississippi historian, writer and storyteller. She is a member of the Mississippi Humanities Speakers Bureau. See her website: www.annmckeestoryteller.com

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