"...it's like Will Rogers, Jean Shepherd and some grumpy Jewish man all rolled into one."

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Double, Double, Toilet Trouble

Our good friends Bert and Marsha came up for a visit this past week. We were celebrating a number of special occasions -- Bert's 60th birthday; his retirement at the end of the month; our long-standing relationships, both singly and as couples.

Plans for our time together included, as always, enjoying good food, wine and beer, the resumption of a decades-long tennis rivalry between Bert and myself, and our wives getting their chakras aligned during a yoga session. After spending the weekend at our place we'd drive to Acadia National Park for a few days of sightseeing, bolstered with some shopping in the various quaint towns on Mount Desert Island. Here's the chronicle of our action-packed time together:

  • Carol and I leave the house fifteen minutes late for our drive to Portland to pick up Bert and Marsha, who are flying up from Raleigh.
  • We return to the house to get Carol's sunglasses.
  • And once again for her cell phone.
  • As we speed toward the airport I wish I had taken advantage of one of those two U-turns to relieve myself.
  • We arrive only to find their flight is delayed. We cool our heels in the cell phone lot, which is devoid of men's or women's rooms, for thirty minutes while waiting for our friends to summon us to the Arrivals area.
  • We pick them up and start to head downtown for some lunch and exploration.
  • Before we exit the airport, we pull into the cell phone lot again so Marsha can get a sweater out of her suitcase to ward off the brisk Maine fall weather.
  • Shockingly, we find a parking spot right in front of the restaurant where we plan to have lunch.
  • We enter and I make a beeline for the restroom before we place our order. The others follow suit.
  • I return to the car to put change in the parking meter.
  • I return to the car again to get Carol's jacket since it's chilly in the restaurant.
  • After lunch, we stroll to a neighboring coffee shop to warm up.
  • I return to the restaurant to retrieve the credit card I left behind.
  • I return to the car to put more change in the parking meter.
  • After finishing our coffee, we get ready to visit two local breweries to enjoy samples in their tasting rooms. But before leaving, I step into the single bathroom.
  • Then Marsha does the same.
  • Then Bert.
  • Then Carol.
  • By now, I have to go again so I visit the men's gender-neutrals' room one more time.
  • Approaching the brewery, parking is limited so we prowl for an extended period. When a tight space opens up I masterfully squeeze into it. Carol objects to having to slither out of her door but I don't hear her complaint since I am dashing inside to find the toilet.
  • The others enter and immediately head for the stalls.
  • We order our brews, find a table, and some of us saunter toward the W.C. again.
  • After we finish our beer, Marsha goes to buy a souvenir t-shirt while the rest of us return to the privy.
  • We strike out for the second brewery. Once we arrive, I tell Carol what to order for me while I look for the latrine.
  • We carry our drinks to the outside patio area. I have both mine and Carol's in my hands since she has gone to the powder room.
  • We finish and decamp for the car, making a quick dash back inside to use the john.
  • We pull into our driveway an hour and fifteen minutes later. Before I even put it in Park, Carol jumps out of the still-moving car so she can be the first into our one and only washroom.
  • That evening we make a nice home-cooked meal for our company, enjoying a few bottles of wine with dinner. Between their early departure for the airport and the number of adult beverages consumed during the day, Bert and Marsha are ready to turn in early. Bert asks if anyone wants to use the loo before he gets ready for bed, and the three of us take turns.
  • Forty minutes later, Bert finally has a chance to wash up. As he exits, I barge past him in order to take care of business once more.
  • We all stagger upstairs to our respective bedrooms for a good night's sleep.

  • I wake up at 5:15 AM with an urgent need to visit the little boy's room. I decide to stay up and get breakfast prepped. As Carol, Bert and Marsha wander downstairs later that morning, I ask everyone how they slept and the responses are startlingly similar - "Fine, except when I got up at two/three/four o'clock to pee."
  • After breakfast, we take turns using the shower. Hours later, everyone is washed and dressed and now it's time for lunch.
  • We drive to Hallowell so our guests can check out our favorite spot there. Great food and very spacious commodes.
  • After lunch, we park at a spot down by the Kennebec River where the town has placed colorful Adirondack chairs. We sit and chat idly while looking for sturgeon, osprey and eagles, keeping one eye on the Porta Potty and alerting each other as it becomes vacant.
  • After returning home, Bert and I decide to play tennis as the ladies get ready to go to their yoga session. This necessitates everyone needing to complete their toilette.
  • Bert runs me around the court like a reporter rushing to find the source of Donald Trump's fantastical claims. Remaining gracious in defeat, I permit Bert to be first to visit the head when we get back to the house.
  • We spend the rest of the afternoon watching football, eating Cheez-Its, drinking beer and occasionally seeing a man about a horse.
  • Stuffing enough luggage into the back of the car to last for a month-long ocean cruise, we leave for our two-night stay in Bar Harbor.
  • As we approach town, we check the directions for our lodging and discover it's not in Bar Harbor as we thought but instead thirty minutes away in Southwest Harbor. We ask Google Maps to redirect us and also query, "Where's the closest bathroom?"
  • We check into a lovely B&B where the only drawback is the steep stairway from the lobby to the second and third floors. Climbing the steps rivals using the iron rungs needed to scale Acadia's Precipice Trail.
  • That evening we go out to celebrate Bert's birthday with dinner at a first-rate restaurant in Bar Harbor where the only drawback is the seven-minute walk from our table to find the doors marked "Hommes" and "Femmes" located back in the bar area.
  • We plan to spend our one full day in the park making several hikes. We've chosen to start with the Ocean Walk, which offers spectacular coastal views along with a marked pedestrian crossing that leads to public facilities in the parking lot across the road from famous Thunder Hole.
  • Our next stop is the Jordan Pond House for lunch. The parking lot is jammed, so we drop off our wives to get us on the waiting list for a table while Bert and I search for a place to leave the car. 
  • We walk back from the overflow lot to the restaurant. Carol tells me the wait will be thirty minutes, so I decide to find a comfort station.
  • I return and cannot find Carol, Marsha or Bert.
  • I finally stumble across Carol, who tells me she was waiting "right over there." I look in the direction she points to see a crowd of what appears to be hundreds of people restlessly milling about until their tables are ready.
  • Carol asks me to return to the car to get her phone. I walk back and search the entire car without finding it. I return to the spot where I left her and cannot find Carol, Marsha or Bert.
  • Ten minutes later, Carol suddenly appears to say she has been "right over there" the entire time. I look in the direction she points and the crowd now numbers in the thousands.
  • Our table finally opens up and we enjoy a pleasant lunch featuring those famous popovers. Afterward, we depart for the trail around Jordan Pond after stopping for a quick tinkle.
  • We cut our hike short since we are finding it increasingly chilly in the late afternoon shadows and decide to return to the car, taking the long route through the restaurant so we can make a pit stop before heading back to our B&B.

  • Before leaving MDI for home, we drive to Bass Harbor in order to take a glorious afternoon cruise around the outer islands of Blue Hill Bay. After passing the lighthouse we see harbor and gray seals, eagles, egrets, heron, gulls and cormorants; idle near the pens of a large salmon farm in the bay, and explore the contents of a lobster trap our guide pulls onboard. We envy all of these creatures since they can urinate with abandon whenever they want, whereas we're trapped on this boat for the next two hours.
  • Once we return, three of us dash toward the free-standing sanitation stations at the end of the dock. Carol insists on wanting to use a "proper bathroom." I pull up the directions to our dinner destination -- a lobster pound as we exit the island -- which is 26 miles away. Carol says she can't wait that long. I offer to stop twice along the route but she declines, with gas station accommodations also below her standards, and instead she continues davening in the back seat until we reach the restaurant. The place is mobbed with end-of-season diners, but before Carol tells me her order she dashes off to attend to her urgent need. I am left in the midst of a frenzied hoard of shellfish-crazed gourmands who batter me from side to side as they push their way to the front of the line where they select their dinner and then back into another line to choose their sides and pay. When Carol returns she finds me in a daze from the pummeling I've taken. All I can mutter is, "... french fries or coleslaw..."

  • That morning, although I put up more of a fight, Bert thrashes me on the tennis courts yet again. We return to clean up before it's time to take him and Marsha back to Portland for their trip home.
  • As part of our ongoing quest to discover the ultimate lobster roll, we target a shack located along our route to the airport. Despite the hours posted on their website, we find a "CLOSED" sign on the door. Just as we dejectedly turn away, one of the owners pops his head out from a neighboring building and tells us to step inside; he's still got everything up and running and will be glad to serve us.
  • We place our orders and step out onto a small patio to await our food. Within minutes, trays are in front of us and we each take big bites to compare notes. Let me tell you, these lobster rolls are unquestionably the...
Oh, dammit -- I have to go to the can. Back in a few.

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