Where People Pee

I wrote the following piece to use in a talk I gave in Ordinary Life on June 12. I did not know when I wrote the piece or gave the talk about the horrible mass shooting - yes, yet another one! - that had taken place in the early morning hours of that Sunday.

In 1993, that’s 23 years ago, we went to visit good friends of ours who lived in Seattle. They were among our best couple friends when they lived in Houston and when they moved to Seattle, we went to see them almost every year.

One of the times we went we went East from Seattle to hike on what they called “the peninsula.” We checked into the little motel where we had reservations, I think this was in Port Stewart, got into our hiking gear and headed out. Our destination was a place called Goblin’s Gate, a waterfall way at the end of a long hike.

We got there and it was beautiful. Our friend, Wayne, is a master of the native American flute and always carries one with him. We sat watching the waterfall and listened to Wayne play his music.

After a while we got up and began the long trek back up the wooded mountainside looking for a place where we might have the food we had brought. Sherry and Linda headed out first. Wayne and I stayed behind. Soon I got up and headed up the trail. Wayne continued to play his flute.

As I hiked up the trail I looked up and saw Linda running toward me. She shouted, “Bear, bear! We have to get out of here.” But where was Sherry? I’m married to a woman who is afraid of nothing.

I hurried up the trail to find my beautiful bride with her camera trying to see how close she could get to two bear cubs in order to take their picture. “Are you nuts!?” I thought. “Come on! We’ve gotta get the hell out of here!”

And, we did. We had to go across the stream that fed the waterfall, hike north, hike back across the stream, then find our way up the mountain and out of the woods to our car, being wary - at least I was - of a protective mother bear along the way.

We drove back to the motel, bathed and changed and went to dinner at the restaurant connected to the motel. It was like a Steak and Ale. Remember them? Make your own salad. Order from a limited menu. Rustic. As we were finishing our salads and the waitress came to take our order, Sherry said to me in a voice she thought was a whisper, “Bill, those two women who just came in are not women. They are guys dressed as women.”

The waitress overhead her and said with much pride, “Oh yes. Those are cross-dressers. There’s a convention in town this week - Esprit ’93.” Indeed, when we went back to our rooms that is what it said on the hotel marque - “Esprit ’93.”

The next morning we went to breakfast there. Four of us. Three with significant psychological training. One an experienced film and television producer. The place was filled with men dressed like women. We were gawking. The natives could care less. By the way, some of the younger ones were drop dead gorgeous. As they got older, it was harder to tell if this was a man dressed like a woman or a woman dressed like a man.

I was told later that they have these kind of gatherings in the Pacific Northwest because the ethos there is to leave people alone. Indeed, the locals eating there seemed not to care a whit.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because recently, for some bizarre reason, there has been an explosive concern about trans-gender bathroom usage. Those men, dressed like women, twenty-three years ago, used the women’s rest room. It’s been going on for decades. So?

To focus on this rather than the issues that have fueled a political dysfunction in this country, the fact that there is a mass shooting every day, that we as a society are shooting ourselves in the foot by not providing adequate education for all our citizens is absolutely silly.