I need to know where all of the public toilets are at any moment wherever I am . Just in case . I’m an expert at planning ahead in this regard .
No , it’s not an obsession . You think ? Well , okay , it’s definitely my preoccupation . I’ll agree to that . Bordering on compulsion , maybe ; but an old guy’s gotta be prepared to pee after a shorter while than in the old days . Not like in younger days when I might pee once and call it a day . You don’t want to be caught in an awkward situation , needing to pee but where there’s no place to discretely do it .
Like near Sacre Coeur in Paris where I have been hanging out for awhile . Let’s take that for example : hoards of tourists , open areas , not much vegetation and crowds of people always around , and no public toilets . Well , that last part is a lie. There’s one public restroom . It costs one and a half euro to use . Sorry , but that’s way too much . Maybe half a euro might be within reason , but even that’s pushing it . ( Today a euro = $1.35 ). It’s beyond my ability to surrender to that kind of extortion and robbery .
Confidentially , I once peed behind a hedge up somewhere beside the massive church , Sacre Coeur . Years ago . I waited a bit for wandering tourists to clear out of the immediate vicinity and then I did what needed to be done . God could see me , of course , from the church windows , but I don’t think that God minded . I was desperate .
Nowadays I plan my next pee knowing that the Montmartre/Sacre Coeur territory is a no pee zone . Ada and I have been taking the doggie over to the dog park that sits just below Sacre Coeur , kind of beside the main steps leading up to the church . There are a few scraggly bushes on the dog park side of the steps and I’ve seen a couple of men pee there . Almost no privacy . I have some sympathy for that kind of action given the price to enter the one public restroom and the otherwise lack of privacy in that general area , but just turning and peeing in close proximity of random strangers is not my thing . Some guys just got no couth !
Yesterday I peed in the Montmartre Cemetery . Behind a bush and near a wall in a corner . No , not on or near any grave . After all , I’m old , yeah , but I’m not a Barbarian . I may not be so suave and debonair , but I got some remaining sensibility and still have a shred of sophistication . Maybe they shouldn’t have such a large cemetery with no public restroom . That’s all I’m saying .
Once we were in Poland , in Ada’s home town , shopping in a small place that used to be a city gate . At the time it sold Polish stuff , souvenirs , wool goods , and knick knacks . Two obviously un-Polish people walked in , a man and a woman. The woman spoke to us in English . Desperate tones . Her husband needed a restroom . I’m pretty sure that he didn’t speak English ; he was quietly at the mercy of the situation . Emergency . They had ventured out on the town from their river cruise boat and the tour book that she had in her hand listed this building as having a public restroom . It didn’t. Maybe at some time in the past it did . The shopkeeper didn’t speak English, so Ada answered the woman .
” Ask my husband . He knows all the public restrooms . “
And I did and I do . I looked around for a few seconds . Ah ! The Dublin Pub was right across the street . I gave her specific directions : walk down the stairs . The door to the men’s room is on the left right at the bottom of the steps .
All of this leads us to the subject of this post , which is the public toilets placed here and there on Parisian streets . They’re usually fairly clean and , extra bonus , they’re free . They don’t have them everywhere , but there some here and there .
There are three buttons on the front of these things . The fates are smiling on you if you get to this thing and it’s unoccupied . Then you push the lit green button and the curved door opens . Push the button to close the door . There is a large mirror and a sink in there . No toilet seat , but you can’t have everything , I guess . Obviously that’s not so good for women . When you’re done , push the button to open the doors and leave . Or swing around behind the structure to squirt a little sanitizer on your hands . So nice !
Now , if the toilet is occupied , the green button is dark . A yellowish button glows , indicating that the toilet is occupied . When the occupier leaves , you have to wait a minute or two for the toilet to in some mysterious way self-clean . You hear the rushing gushing water . It sounds like the whole interior is being hosed down . During this interval a blue light glows . You wait . Then the blue light fades and a green light glows . Ready . Push the green button and the curved door opens .
The first time I used one of these conveniences I didn’t know the procedure . The guy ahead of me left and I walked in . A voice in recorded French told me to what I guessed was something like : Sacre bleu ! What the hell do you think you’re doing ! Get the hell out so we can clean this puppy !
But I don’t speak French . I tried to close the curved door but it wouldn’t close . Worse , I think that I sent it into shock . It wouldn’t budge . A passer-by tried to help , but the two of us couldn’t get the door closed . I made an executive decision to go through with my peeing anyway . Like those guys I mentioned who peed on the edges of the dog park . People on the street could see the back of me ; but at least I was actually inside of a restroom . A man does what he has to do .
Turns out when you use these Parisian toilettes , you must wait while the thing self-cleans , or plays the recording of water gushing , or whatever goes on for that minute or two . ( When you finally get inside there nothing is wet ; it’s all dry .) Otherwise , the whole toilette gets a little surly and doesn’t cooperate . A public restroom’s got to do what a public restroom’s got to do .
I like the fact that in Paris someone recognized the need for people to pee . For free . Are you listening , Sacre Coeur ? At least there are a few public toilettes here and there around the city . It’s a work in progress , I suppose . Vive la France !