At the holiday season, I’m giving out gift cards to children to use at our local Barnes and Noble. This is the greatest present I can bestow because in this age of tech toys, nothing is more important than introducing a child to over-used public restrooms such as at Barnes and Noble, and how to survive them.
Our local B&N is my favorite hangout, but even during other times of the year the state of the women’s room could be most kindly described as “messy,” “dirty” or perhaps “decayed.” From reading all the paranoia-inducing news articles about bacteria and viruses invisibly crawling all over the restroom, I’ve developed protective methods to maneuver my way around the various deathtraps, like stall door handles, sink tap handles and worst of all, the handle of the door exiting the restroom. Similarly, it’s not enough for children to learn to wash their hands after using the toilet. They must be shown how to use their feet to flush the toilet, how to grasp paper towels to turn off the taps, and how to pull down their sweater or coat sleeves to open the door handle of the exit door.
Most difficult of all is showing them—-where insensitive store personnel have not provided a waste basket next to the exit door—- how to hold the exit door open with a foot block (to avoid touching the door handle) while twisting the torso sideways to lay up and shoot the wadded roll of used paper towel into the towel waste dispenser that’s generally 50 feet away. This is a difficult maneuver for all ages and is a diagnosis known to physicians as PTSD [“Paper Towel-induced Shoulder Dislocation”].
Despite these precautions, it’s almost unavoidable when using a restroom, for one to step in small remnants of floor urine. I’ve heard repeatedly I shouldn’t worry about that because, as some annoying person will always insist, “Urine is sterile.” If that’s not comforting, consider that cabbages, tomatoes and other food we eat may have been treated with human urine.
How do I know that? A few years ago researchers at the University of Kuopio, whose most famous discovery was that Kuopio is in Finland, grew cabbages treated with conventional fertilizer, no fertilizer, or human urine. Result: The urine-treated cabbages grew bigger than the other groups and carried fewer germs. The university scientists then made sauerkraut from the cabbages, and while noting differences in flavors among the three groups, they liked all three equally.
You have to ask yourself how Finland, rated by one organization as having the finest education system in the world with all teachers earning masters degrees and 66% of students going on to college, is now best known for proving that human pee grows better crops? How would that be expressed by the Nobel Prize people? I’m quite concerned because pee for crops doesn’t seem to fall under the Nobel Prize for Physics or Medicine or Economic Sciences or Chemistry or Peace. That leaves Finland’s researchers at the University of Kuopio—-a name that emphasizes the “pio” and not long ago changed out of embarrassment to “University of Eastern Finland”—to accept the Nobel Prize for Literature for its contribution to Urine Studies.
I want to believe the Finns are intelligent and well-meaning, even if they want our farmers to urinate on our crops. In truth the only Finn I remember personally was Huckleberry. But my opinion of the Finns skyrocketed when I read how they treated the ice skating defenseman of the Dallas Stars, Stephane Robidas, who went to Finland to play with the Finnish League. Robidas said his playing “wasn’t as good as I would have hoped.” So how did the Finns make their American guest feel better?
“….I ate a lot of local food,” Robidas said. “I had reindeer, and it was unbelievable. They serve it with cranberry sauce, and it was so tender.”
This is the most outstanding contribution by the Finns. Every year, the tireless, cooperative reindeer fly on Christmas thousands of miles around the world from Lapland, Finland where Santa lives. When the Big Trip is finished, they look forward to being recycled as pot roasts. To be served with potatoes, carrots, lutefisk and a casserole made from “scientifically grown” cabbage.
There’s one Finn I’m personally trying to get in touch with, especially at this holiday season of the crowded stores and squalid restrooms—–Nea Makala, the 6’2 star basketball player from Finland who’s burning up the courts at Northern Michigan University. She’s promised to show me how to sink a jump shot…..using a ball of wadded paper towels while blocking a restroom door with one foot.