My 8-year-old son recently needed a haircut and decided he wanted to go to a barbershop. Not a hair salon. A men’s barbershop. While waiting for his turn, he realized he needed to go to the bathroom. Finding it without toilet paper, he politely asks for some before going in. Oh, great. Now we all know what he’s planning to do in there. So off he goes, and there I sit, surrounded by men shouting and dancing to loud music while they fade and shave and whatnot. No, I don’t look conspicuously feminine. Not at all…

Mohawk in progress
Mohawk in progress

He emerges from the bathroom giggling. “I clogged the toilet.”

Oh. No. You. Didn’t.

My son does not seem to have inherited the universal male aversion to pooping in public restrooms. He’s down for doing his business whenever – and wherever – nature calls. But I have to protect his pride by engaging in this situation, right?  Little known fact: I am not the designated plunger at home for a reason. There is a technique (perhaps in the wrist?) that normal people take for granted. A technique I’m lacking. But I really have no choice but to muster some confidence and try to slay the dragon.

It’s a cheap plunger that seems intentionally shaped to be as ineffective as possible. But I try. (Splash) And try. (Sploosh) And try. (Slurp, but no whoosh) Now I’ve tried so long that I realize the guys outside are going to think I’m the one who clogged it! Son’s pride aside, this just got serious.

I break a sweat. I pray. Nothing.

Okay, it’s time to admit defeat. My children are going on five unsupervised minutes at the front of the shop, and at this point I’m just making toilet paper soup.  It’s sticking to the plunger like paper-mâché, but I can’t even flush to rinse it off. I’m going to leave it looking like a Pinterest plunger project, wash my hands, and exit with dignity. I’m an adult. These things happen.

No soap.

No soap?! I just used attempted to use but successfully papered a plunger in a men’s room. Are you kidding me?!

I make a go of the last dried drops hanging from the dispenser. No paper towels. Wow. I’m on a roll. I exit with dignity according to plan and tell the first barber I see — very discreetly — that the restroom requires some attention. He laughs and yells across the place, “Hey, manager! The toilet is clogged!” All eyes on me –  the only woman in the place, dripping wet hands extended awkwardly like a surgeon, sweating profusely, fighting the urge to point at my son and scream “It was him, okay?!”  I vow then and there that Daddy is responsible for all future mohawk appointments.  The haircut can wait.

It’s been several days since I dragged him out of there in shame and humiliation, and the boy is still in need of a haircut. I can do this. I am, as previously mentioned, an adult after all. So in spite of my vow, here we are again. Round 2. I have a state of the art plunger in the van, travel toilet paper in my purse, a back-to-school-sized bottle of hand sanitizer on deck, and I’m wearing a fake mustache. It’s on like Donkey Kong.


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