Of course I had “to go” the moment we got to the airport, but couldn’t until I had gotten my luggage checked in and gone through the gun and knife detectors. My well trained traveling eyes quickly scanned the large hall for the code language signaling my next immediate destination. The one universal symbol to distinguish the lady’s powder room from the men’s john is a knee length hooped skirt, but looking around the Memmingen airport at the 300 plus or minus people who are waiting with me to board the Ryan Air flight to Dublin, not one of them is wearing a skirt or dress of any kind... oops, there is one. Only one. Wearing a tight mini. Funny how our symbols live on long after the reality has left town. Peculiar too, how we use symbols not only to help us get closer to something, but also to help us keep a safe distance. We use them as a kind of shield, so that we don’t have to go to some uncomfortable place. Although only one person in that waiting hall was actually wearing a skirt, about half of us were most likely wearing a bra (see, still keeping my distance). We all know what really distinguishes those who need the men’s room from those who need the lady’s, but for some reason, we still find it vulgar to make any kind of direct reference to it. Where so many outer, symbolic images are loosing their validity in communicating the distinction between the sexes, each trying to catch a live fish with their bare, oily hands, the essence of this gender specific diversity lives on to goad us.
And in case you are ever unsure which one is the lady’s room, it will usually be the one that all the men are standing in front of.