There’s a thin line between a stream and a scream

I recently had the wonderful and rare pleasure of a night out with my lovely wife and good friends. After a few beers, I needed to use the restroom.

It should be mentioned here that this endeavor used to be quite simple. Back before kids, when at least one weekend evening involved time spent at a restaurant or an endearingly terrible bar, I could easily locate the bathroom because I either knew where it was or could draw upon my experience and instinct to find it. But now? It seems many establishments, in my time away from the game, have tried to attain some sort of post modern hipster identity and take immense pride in confusing patrons 35 and up. The restroom isn’t easily located because, what is this, 2007? Pfft. Please use our restaurant’s app to find the bathroom or answer a series of riddles from our host who is dressed like a character from “A Clockwork Orange.”

But I’m not even here to talk about that. No, what’s more disconcerting to me is what happens when I actually manage to locate the restroom. On this particular evening, for example, after turning a corner to what I feared would be the kitchen, my relief at locating the restrooms was immediately dashed by this perplexing question: Umm, which door do I use?

Now, granted, my options being “Burts” and “Bettys,” it was, in retrospect, somewhat easy to solve this dilemma. But again, a few beers in and under the immense pressure of making the decision before someone catches you trying to make this decision … let’s just say I had to do some thinking. I’m not a Betty, right? That’s totally a female’s name. But some guys go by Kelly, which is almost like Betty. No, I can’t be Betty. I am definitely a Burt. I’m Burt? For crying out loud, pull yourself together, Burt! Make a decision. Here goes nothing …

I was right, I am Burt. I want to make that clear. Still, had this been the first time I walked into a bathroom and felt an overwhelming sense of relief at seeing a urinal, I probably wouldn’t, ya’ know, write a column about it. But it wasn’t.

There is a restaurant near our home that also, believe it or not, has restrooms. The signs posted next to each door, however, are small, grey, feature-less silhouettes that are apparently supposed to assist human beings in matching their gender to the appropriate door. The only difference between the two signs—something that can only be distinguished after some serious up-close squinting—is that the girl is, I think, wearing a skirt. I’m only confident of the correct door because of my frequent patronage. Were this an Irish pub, however, where the men wear kilts and the women are all Sinead O’Connor, there might be a problem.

There have been many other occasions of bathroom confusion. Are you a bloke or a blondie? A cutie or a patooty? A Rembrandt or a Kahlo? Jiminy Christmas I HAVE TO PEE.

I’m all for hipster influences, but maybe they shouldn’t infiltrate the area of an establishment where misidentification can result in a lawsuit. MENS and WOMENS has done quite well for itself, I believe. Posted scientific diagrams of genitalia would, though graphic, be better options than this current trend.

So anyway, I am never going out again. Or at least until hipster culture cycles around to where it’s cool again to be boring and direct. In the meantime, good luck out there, everyone. Love, Burt

Note: This column appears in the 2/20 issue of The Glendale Star and the 2/21 issue of the Peoria Times.