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My mother was a fanatic about public toilets.

As a little girl, she'd bring me in the stall, teach me to wad up toilet paper and wipe the seat. Then, she'd carefully lay strips of toilet paper to cover the seat. Finally, she'd instruct, "Never, never sit on a public toilet seat."

And she'd demonstrate "The Stance," which consisted of balancing over the toilet in a sitting position without actually letting any of your flesh make contact with the toilet seat. But by this time, I'd have wet down my leg. And we'd go home.

That was a long time ago. Even now in my more mature years, The Stance is excruciatingly difficult to maintain when one's bladder is especially full. When I have to "go" in a public toilet, I find a line of women that makes me think there's a half-price sale on Mel Gibson's underwear in there. So, I wait and smile politely at all the other ladies, also crossing their legs and smiling politely. And I finally get closer. I check for feet under the stall doors. Every one is occupied.

Finally, a stall door opens and I dash, nearly knocking down the woman leaving the stall. I get in to find the door won't latch. It doesn't matter. I hang my purse on the door hook, yank down my pants and assume "The Stance." Relief. More relief.

Then my thighs begin to shake. I'd love to sit down but I certainly hadn't taken time to wipe the seat or lay toilet paper on it, so I hold The Stance as my thighs experience a quake that would register an eight on the Richter scale.

To take my mind off it, I reach for the toilet paper. The toilet paper dispenser is empty. My thighs shake more. I remember the tiny tissue that I blew my nose on that's in my purse. It would have to do. I crumble it in the puffiest way possible. It is still smaller than my thumbnail.

Someone pushes open my cubicle door because the latch doesn't work and my purse wacks me in the head. "Occupied!" I scream as I reach out for the door, dropping my tissue in a puddle and falling backward, directly onto the toilet seat.

I get up quickly, but it's too late. My bare bottom has made contact with all the germs and life forms on the bare seat because I never laid down toilet paper, not that there was any, even if I had enough time to. And my mother would be utterly ashamed of me if she knew, because her bare bottom never touched a public toilet seat because, frankly, "You don't know what kind of diseases you could get."

And by this time, the automatic sensor on the back of the toilet is so confused that it flushes, sending up a stream of water akin to a fountain and then it suddenly sucks everything down with such force that I grab onto the toilet paper dispenser for fear of being dragged to China. At that point, I give up. I'm soaked by the splashing water. I'm exhausted. I try to wipe with a lolly wrapper I found in my pocket, then slink out inconspicuously to the sinks.

I can't figure out how to operate the sinks with the automatic sensors, so I wipe my hands with spit and a dry paper towel and walk past a line of women, still waiting, cross-legged and unable to smile politely at this point. One kind soul at the very end of the line points out that I'm trailing a piece of toilet paper on my shoe as long as the Murray River!

I yank the paper from my shoe, plunk it in the woman's hand and say warmly, "Here. You might need this."

At this time, I see my spouse, who has entered, used and exited his toilet and read a copy of War and Peace while waiting for me.

"What took you so long?" he asks, annoyed.

This is when I kick him sharply in the shin and go home.

This is dedicated to all women everywhere who have ever had to deal with a public toilet. And it finally explains to all you men what takes us so long.

#joke #sport #exercise #mother
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