You food snobs can kvetch about how “godawful” their food is all you like–which is really just a thinly-veiled tell for a hatred of capitalism and success, usually. But it ain’t necessarily all about the food, anyway.
I had diarrhea in Hamburg, Germany, and I couldn’t find a bathroom. It was 1983. I was 16, touring the city with a friend, and the undercooked eggs and Weisswurst I’d had for breakfast weren’t sitting well. The steins of Krombacher and shots of Korn Schnapps from the night before didn’t help.
I could feel the juices percolating through my abdomen as I walked down the busy street to St. Michael’s, and I knew I was in trouble.
“I need to find a restroom,” I told my German friend, Nicola.
She looked at me with all the compassion of a typical German and told me to hold it.
“But I can’t,” I said. It was the truth. I couldn’t hold it. I had to go. There are just some things in life you can’t control. Beer and egg diarrhea is one of them.
She rolled her eyes and pulled me into a nearby shop. She asked the storekeeper if we could use her restroom. The woman glanced at me, looked me up and down, and shook her head.
“Please … Bitte,” I whined, my eyes watering. Without a hint of mercy, the woman said, “Nein.”
Nicola grabbed me by the arm and pulled me out the door. I followed, barely able to walk as I squeezed my legs together.
“Don’t shops have public bathrooms in this city?” I asked. Nicola shook her head. “Not many.”
That began one of the longest, most painful days of my life. We went from shop to shop looking for a bathroom, only to be turned away. I felt like a poor version of Mary searching for an inn. Okay, irreverent analogy, but you get the picture.
“Don’t you people have public restrooms?” I asked as I tried to keep up with Nicola marching up the street.
“I don’t know,” Nicola said. “There’s a McDonald’s not far. We’ll go there.”
Thank God for the U.S. of A., I thought to myself. When I saw the golden arches on the horizon, it was like seeing the pearly gates of heaven. I ran toward them, pushing through the crowd. Finally, I made it to the bathroom. Angels sang.
Oh, those weren’t angels, honey. Been there, done that, and I assure you most solemnly: not angels.
Read on; McAllister is funny, and she has a larger point to make. For my money it’s a good one.