When Nature Calls

A Glimpse of Life in the “Olden Days”

In the olden days, say when our number one son was about six and number two was about four, I would take them with me to shop and to run weekly family errands. Frequently, my mom, mamma, joined us and we shopped together with the boys in tow.

One event, among the many involving mischievous number two son, took place at a local chain store–a pharmacy.  The pharmacy was located in a “retail strip center”.  Not a “mall” like became popular in the 1960’s and not a “town center” shopping plaza like we have today.

English: A strip mall in Wynantskill, New York...

An example strip mall in Wynantskill, New York, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the 1970’s, retail strip malls didn’t include fast food restaurants, gas stations, or public restrooms; and, individual stores were not required to provide restrooms for public use.  Can you see where this story might be headed?

To explain, our standard procedure was to begin all trips with a visit to the bathroom before leaving home. And, we don’t vary from this procedure today.  Well, we had been out for a while and those of you with children can relate–one of us gets “the call”.  It’s nature calling (because nature has its own schedule). Yes, that’s right, nature was calling on number two son.  Now, number two son had made it a habit whenever we would go out to dinner as a family to always investigate the bathroom facilities.  But this time, he swore to me that it was an honest-to-goodness emergency and that he needed to go.  So what were our options?

A Strategic Maneuver

Jeff - Christmas 1973

Christmas 1973

After quickly mulling over my strategic options, I decided number two son would go to the pharmacy counter to ask if he could use the restroom. You see, number two was quite a cutie. Blonde hair, blue eyes, with a magnetic charm and personality.

So he went on a run and we hung back watching his every move.  He approached the cashier, and by now he was dancing trying to avoid having an accident (his own maneuver).  The cashier asked him if she could help him. And, still dancing, he asked if he could use the restroom.

Very politely and calmly, without emoting the slightest concern for a young man in obvious distress, she said:  “I’m sorry, but our restrooms are not for public use.”  And then, number two proceeded to plead his case. And, he  very simply replied:  “Lady, I’m not public, I ‘m Catholic!”

The “End Run”

With that, all of us burst into laughter. Yet, the cashier still held firm. And then I approached her (plan B), and taking a lesson out of my son’s book very simply replied:  “Lady, my boy’s dancing–and not because he wants to–he’s trying to help you keep your floor clean.”

And, with that, the cashier saved the day for all of us.  Number two completed his task without further ado, the cashier didn’t have to mop her floor, and mamma and I stuck to our plan to shop ’til we dropped!

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