A Night at the Opera
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
It ain't over 'til the dementia lady pees.
Alpenrose Dairy has a fantastically quaint, old-timey theatre, and rents out the space to disastrously quaint, old-timey theatre troupes such as senior theatre, and a local opera company. What these ensembles lack in talent, they make up for in enthusiasm (and low ticket prices - woot!). This doesn't stop me from fantasizing about stringing the directors up by their necks for the crimes of grammar school production values, sloth-like pacing, and costuming that substitutes sequins for acting ability (jazz hands, anyone?). But the performers are clearly having fun, and Mom gets a kick out of the shows, so I curb my irritation, and take enjoyment from the delight of others.
Alpenrose Dairy theatre also has deplorable restroom accommodations. There are NO BATHROOMS in the building. Half a block away there is a cement bunker with no heat, no hot water, and three tiny stalls. With it's grim, militant facade, I'm quite certain you could survive a nuclear bomb in there while wizzing, emerging from the privy fortress to wonder what the hell happened while you were washing up. If you need an ADA restroom, as we do because Mom has various troubles getting her business done, there is only a handicap accessible porta potty located next to the building.
My mother, who used to be the hardiest of troopers on camping trips out in the Oregon wild, has apparently decided her outhouse days are behind her, much like I've vowed to never again go to a laundry mat, even if it means I have to dip into my bail money slush fund to buy a washer/dryer. Hence, drama at the outhouse that surpassed what was presented onstage.
After a long and arduous first act, it was finally intermission. Mom visibly needed a trip to the restroom, so I led her to the lobby doors, hoping I could get her to make the trek to the bathroom bunker despite the cold and wind, and once there I'd just have to do the best I could to make sure she, and her undergarments, came out dry.
She took two steps out the door and came to a dead halt.
The surge of audience members exiting the building stumbled into her, but as she morphed into 110 pounds of immovable stone, the crowd parted like the Red Sea, swirling to the sides, leaving me to coax, plead, and eventually pull her away from the warmth and shelter of the venue..
I hugged her to me as she shuffled forward. "I want to go back. It's cold," she whined. "You need to go potty, Mom, you won't make it to the end of the show if you don't," I replied as gently as I could, while silently panicking - down the road the aforementioned Red Sea had become a long, snaking river of elderly females trickling ever so slowly into the tinkle tank.
The porta potty however, was just a few feet away, beckoning invitingly, the door waving a gentle welcome in the wind. "Mom, let's go potty in here, out of the cold." She was too busy tucking her head down against the chill to notice I had steered her into the outhouse.
She took two steps in the door and came to a dead halt.
This time I smacked into her while attempting to latch the flimsy plastic door lock behind us. She once again became immovable, with her arms folded and a look of pure disgust directed at her surroundings and at me for tricking her into this horror. She was pissed and I was losing my patience, but I joked that I would go first to warm up the seat for her, wiggling my backside all around it to make her smile. She was not amused.
When it was her turn, I attempted to unfold her arms. She resisted. Changing tactics, I reached for her pants button thinking that would kick-start her to do it herself. It did not, and as she had a bulky coat, two sweaters, and an undershirt on, even locating the top of her jeans was proving elusive.
"So this is what prom night for boys is like," I mused to myself.
I was so oafish in my movements she finally snapped "I'll do it!" and brushed me away. In lieu of wringing her neck, I took a deep breath and said something light and silly. She steadfastly refused to be entertained, complained bitterly about the cold, and pulled her pants down, finally turning around to sit and pee.
Have you ever been in one of these ADA port-a-potties? They have the normal outhouse seat of course, but it's situated in a substantial ledge of plastic, which apparently is a godsend when your goal is to avoid the toilet seat.
I looked away from Mom for 2 seconds to grab some toilet paper, looked back, and she was sitting not on the seat, but on the plastic ledge next to it, a cascade of urine ready to be released. "Mom! Wait!" I can't remember her exact mumbo-jumbo of protestation, but she loudly made it clear she had no intention of using the seat.
I grabbed her from the front. An awkward and unwelcomed bear hug ensued as I attempted to pick her up and forcibly plop her down on the seat. She wriggled and cried out "Stop! Stop it!" as if under a savage attack. I couldn't believe her solution to avoid the toilet seat was to pee on hard plastic instead, which would splatter and soak her clothing leaving her a wet, smelly mess. I was about to go ballistic when suddenly...
... I laughed.
I exploded with laughter. The absurdity of our predicament welled up in me, and I could not contain my mirth. Mom took about 2 seconds to identify the noise coming from my face, and then she too erupted in laughter. As her butt was cold, and my back was starting to spasm from my continued wrestling hold on her, we didn't laugh long, she simply moved her behind over to the seat, giggled and got the deed done.
A couple doses of hand sanitizer later, we emerged from the honey bucket to a small group of opera goers with perplexed looks on their faces. I felt they should have greeted us with applause, our bathroom drama was far more entertaining than the show.