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FLYNN: Soul mates are automatic

Features column

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

It was a question I had never asked my husband. I was just too embarrassed, I guess, to reveal something so personal about myself even after 22 years of marriage. What if he laughed at me? Thought I was stupid? The urge was too overwhelming, though, and I had to take the risk. So I did, there in the hotel restaurant as we sat waiting for our dinner. I had just settled back into my seat after a trip to the restroom. It was the perfect time.

“Do automatic toilets scare you?” I leaned in and whispered. I sensed a quiver in my voice that I hoped he didn’t notice. I was pretty shaken up, having just nearly fallen face first onto the concrete floor of the bathroom stall after being scared half to death by the self-flushing toilet that decided to flush too soon. The sound still echoed in my ears, an incredible whoosh that could only be compared to a jet engine taking off of an aircraft carrier. I suppose I had been daydreaming as I sat quietly minding my own business, because it took me completely by surprise. And I half-way fell off. Onto the floor. It was not attractive.

He looked at me for what seemed like an awfully long moment, then said something that will forever endear him to me. “I hate automatic toilets, too,” he said and at that very moment I knew, undeniably, that we were soul mates.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I completely comprehend and appreciate the thinking behind self-flushing toilets. Having to touch the handle of a toilet in a public bathroom is at the top of my list of things I most abhor, right up there with accidentally drinking someone else’s drink and commercials that feature talking food. I have flushed public toilets with my hand wrapped in toilet paper, my elbow, and even a nimbly orchestrated kung fu move of the foot. Whoever invented self-flushing toilets has my upmost respect… when they flush when they’re supposed to… and I’m fair warned… and preferably standing up.

“For that matter,” he said. “I also have a problem with automatic faucets.”

I love this man.

It has been my concern for quite some time that I have in my body some magnetic field that discombobulates automatic faucets and causes them to shut down. Like those people who can’t wear watches because bodies react and make them quit working. We just don’t jive.

It seems simple enough, waving a hand under the faucet to make the water flow. When that doesn’t work, I wave my hand in front of the faucet. Nothing. Perhaps if I hover over the top of it for a second then casually wave back and forth. Maybe tap it a little bit. Is there a hidden button? No. Maybe this one isn’t working, so I move to another one and start the whole routine over. Still nothing. There can be only one explanation. The faucets hate me. Thank goodness for hand sanitizer.

To add insult to injury, someone inevitably will exit a stall about that time, walk up to the sink, wave their hand and out comes water. I hate them. Once I asked a woman, “How did you do that?” only to have her lean over, wave her hand in front of my faucet, turn it on, then look at me pitifully and ask a little slower than necessary if I needed her to help me with the paper towel dispenser.

No. I did not. Thank you very much. Never mind that I have wasted many seconds standing in front of paper towel dispensers waving my hand back and forth before eventually realizing there is a handle to push on the side. I wish these public bathroom design people would make up their minds.

“I’m glad we have these things in common,” I said to my husband after our quite intelligent, in-depth conversation, and I sincerely meant it. It isn’t every day you learn something new about someone you’ve been with for more than two decades. It was nice. I reached over and took his hand in mine… but wait… didn’t he go to the bathroom shortly before I did? He must have read my mind.

“I washed my hands,” he said.

I love this man.

Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.