The Village Idiot

How Things Have Changed

In almost all public men’s restrooms -- airports, truck stops, stadiums, convenience stores -- there are now diaper-changing stations. Because dads are certainly just as capable of changing diapers as moms.

The thing is, I’ve never seen anyone use the one in the men’s room. Many of them look pristine. Maybe I’m never in there at the right time, but I can honestly say I’ve never seen a man change a diaper in a public men’s room. Which is odd, because I can say I have seen diapers getting changed almost everywhere else. On the plane seat next to me. On a tailgate at a campsite. In the lobby of a hotel. At the lip of the Grand Canyon. In a church pew at a wedding. On a table at a fast-food restaurant. Once you see that, you can never eat the honey-mustard dip again.

But these are the exceptions. From what I’ve seen, 99.9% of all diaper-changing on the road must still be done by women.

Maybe the changing stations are different in the women’s restrooms. Having never seen the inside of a ladies’ room, like most men, I may have a distorted idea of what goes on in there. I imagine them to be cleaner than ours, sure, but also more feminine and luxurious. Maybe there are plush carpets, Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, scented candles, cut flowers in crystal vases, whirlpool tubs, full-length mirrors, misting machines, tanning beds, foot massagers, nail touch-up tables, makeup lights and TVs showing continuous loops of “The View” and “House Hunters International.” And off to the side, a cushioned, softly lit, herb-scented changing station filled with free samples of organic diaper creams.

We men are not complaining; we just know that’s the way it is. We know that whereas the men’s room smells like a long-unemptied cat box, the ladies’ must smell like new-mown grass and chamomile. Unlike ours, their paper towels never run out, their soap dispensers are always full, their floors are spotless and their trash is emptied every quarter-hour. It must be heaven.

Which is why, of course, we want you to change the diapers in there. Not because we’re lazy, or misogynistic, or think changing diapers is unmanly, but because we care about our small children so much that we don’t want them to turn out like us.

There is even a changing table in the men’s room of the local multiplex, which is puzzling. Not because it’s in the men’s room, but because I can’t imagine a film, even a Disney film, that I would take a child in diapers to see. “Scary Killers with Chainsaws”? “Violent, Steamy Teenage Vampires”? “Blood-Covered Detectives 3: Even Filthier Language”? “500 Ways to Kill a Ninja”?

Or maybe I’ve got it all wrong and the diaper-changing table in the movie theater isn’t for babies at all, but for old men. But then, I can’t think of a movie I would take an old man in diapers to see. “Scary Killers with Chainsaws”? “Violent, Steamy Teenage Vampires”? “Blood-Covered Detectives 3: Even Filthier Language”? “500 Ways to Kill a Ninja”? I can’t wait until the reviews come in: “It was a three-diaper movie. It scared me and it was super long!”

A new type of restroom is starting to crop up at large public places: the “family restoom.” It’s a great idea for parents who feel uncomfortable taking small children of the opposite sex into either a men’s or women’s room. I’ve never been in one, but I imagine there’s a nice place for Dad to sit and relax while Mom changes the diapers.

(Contact Jim Mullen at mullen.jim@gmail.com.)

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