Ken puts a few tongue-in-cheek suggestions in the Mt. Baker Theatre’s suggestion box
When I attended the grand opening of the Mt. Baker Theatre in 1927, she was a thing of absolute beauty and the pride of the community—and she still is, perhaps even more so now. Ah, the childhood memories. But for all the acts and movies over the years, I never once had to use the restroom. Not once. What can I say? Bladder control has always been one of my strengths.
Well, that changed recently, and I discovered, painfully so, that our precious Grand Old Dame was not designed for the baby-boomer generation now in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame the original architects and engineers. I mean, who could possibly foresee that WWII would lead to post-war sex? Totally unimaginable, right? My point is simply that no one predicted a large audience of 60-plusyear-old males all at one time.
The near-fatal design flaw was no more apparent than at the recent Beach Boys’ concert, when I excused myself to use the restroom. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of waiting about 10 minutes into intermission. In retrospect, I should have excused myself earlier. However, I didn’t want to be rude to my mom, who was having difficulty hearing me clearly with her hands over her ears. I had to first write her a short note to explain that it was safe—the music had stopped.
As I emerged from the theatre into the lobby, I was quickly confused—the line to the men’s restroom was three to four times as long as the women’s line. Even more problematic, the line was not moving. Thoughts of Darwin immediately went through my mind and instinctively, I went upstairs to look for relief. The upstairs option was an even worse “pinch point.” Now desperate, back downstairs I went, out the theatre and to the local restaurant on the corner. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Incredibly, there were more anxious theatre-goers in line for the restroom than patrons. “What the heck,” I thought to myself as I returned to stand in the line from hell in the lobby. “What am I missing?”
And there I stood for almost 30 minutes, dancing from one foot to the other. I watched one 60-plus-year-old after another emerge with a knowing head nod, as if I should know a secret handshake. Even then, the line didn’t seem to move, or it moved so slowly that some were actually coming back for “seconds.” Still perplexed, the social scientist that I am finally got it when I overheard two sharing their thoughts on which urologist in town had the softest hands. The lightbulb was now on. We were all Princess Bride-like victims of POUS (prostates of unusual size). Oh my, times had changed. In our former lives, we would use public facilities at the same time as our female partners and we were always done first. Now, however, we emerge to toe-tapping and “come along already” looks.
The humiliation of the experience was no more obvious than when I was actually in the restroom to watch the carnage firsthand as I awaited my turn. Depending on age, these poor souls would stand progressively closer to the wall to ensure “clearance” and appear to be in full prayer mode. One more elderly gentleman stood so close that he actually put his nose to the wall. The experience was depressing. I saw my future and suddenly didn’t care that intermission was over 15 minutes ago. I needed to go home and curl up in a ball.
Will I ever venture out to another event at the Mt. Baker Theatre in the future? Of course. But I remain a bit tender emotionally and I would humbly suggest a few changes to accommodate my gender’s age-related shortcomings. First, for the sake of the local restaurant next door, I recommend a suitable number of Porta-potties in the alley, and perhaps fast-acting Flomax could be sold at the concession stands. The two go “hand in hand.” I don’t recommend doing one without the other. That’s asking for trouble.
Next, events should be rated like movies, only instead of G, GP, or R ratings, a simple POUS rating will suffice. No need to humiliate us by publicly explaining the designation in your event brochures. Some things are better left unsaid. We will all know what POUS means, okay? And please, no painted footprints progressively closer to the wall with imprinted age numbers. We can self-select and handle that part. Just POUS.
Finally, I suggest an announcement of a 10-minute warning before intermission and the free use of the women’s bathrooms during that 10-minute prelude. I already received President Trump’s advance approval of the dual use. At age 70, he was surprisingly sympathetic.
Sound far-fetched? Not in the least—necessity is the mother of all inventions. If the theater will simply implement two or more of my suggestions, I personally guarantee the lines will be reduced to a trickle.