At the tender age of 8, my daughter has already learned one of the hard facts of female life. There just aren't enough johns in this world.
We recently raced a stampede of women to get to the restroom in a big public library only to find a wall of moms and daughters already waiting in a long line for the loo -- praying, crossing their legs and glaring at the men who zipped in and out of their stalls next door.
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Waiting in line when nature calls is a pisser we all try to avoid, some better than others. Case in point: Lisa Nowalk, the crazed astronaut lady who drove from Texas to Florida and used Depends so she wouldn't have to stop for bathroom breaks.
Why are women still suffering from porcelain inequality in this day and age? In regards to race, separate but equal was ruled unconstitutional 55 years ago. Yet here we women stand, with our intricate internal plumbing, waiting in vain outside of inadequate public crappers to complete a compelling biological function.
This could be easily corrected. Give us more pots to piss in. But even with potty parity legislation in Florida and other states, higher ratios of women's toilets are not materializing, usually because the laws aren't being enforced. Like many women, I waged my own little one-woman potty rebellion when I was single, ducking into men's bathrooms in bars and concert halls to void where prohibited. But when you have a little girl in tow, this ceases to be a swell idea.
It's not like we're all in there powdering our noses. In fact, a researcher at Virginia Tech found that women frequently spend twice as long as men in the restroom (89 seconds versus 39 for the guys) because they have more clothes to manipulate, they often have children with them or they take the time to groom themselves. That doesn't include the fact that we use toilet paper or have other business on a monthly basis. If you're a mom with potty training obligations, add another 10 tick-tock minutes.
Studies also show that men are less likely to wash their hands after using the bathroom, which must save a few seconds right there. While we're busying singing "Happy Birthday" twice under the running water, the guys are just wiping their hands on their jeans and splitting.
In a wee victory this month, New York City now has two major ballparks - the new Yankee Stadium and the Mets Citi Field - with more toilets for women than men. But I can't hold it any longer. I'm starting my own potty scorecard, with waiting lines and cleanliness carrying the most weight. I'm tracking the best and worst on-the-road commodes for moms in South Florida. What would you add to the list?
SOUTH FLORIDA'S SIT OR SQUAT REPORT
Tawdry Toilets: Dadeland Mall Food Court, Miami International Airport, Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove, Home Depot, Publix, Florida Turnpike Rest Stops
The Gold Standard: The downtown Miami-Dade Cultural Center, Tarpon Bend, Village of Merrick Park, Starbucks, Pottery Barn, Houston's on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, Barnes & Noble, Wolfsonian-FIU museum, Regal Cinemas South Beach