Tim Whyte | Schrödinger’s Cat and the All-Gender Loo

Tim Whyte

I’m new to this, apparently.

You know. Going to the bathroom.

I was at a community shindig at the place with the Santa Clarita Valley’s most wordy name, the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center at College of the Canyons. Movers and shakers, all waiting to hear the wit and wisdom of state Sen. Scott Wilk at the Valley Industry Association’s State of the State luncheon.

Side note: Scott, after he leaves the California Legislature and moves to America, could have a future as a stand-up comic. He knows how to work a room and he speaks delightfully bluntly. He’s not old. (Well, not REALLY old. He’s older than me, though, so there.) But he talks like your grandfather who really doesn’t give an F what people think and says whatever is on his mind. It’s refreshing. And, sometimes, comedic.

One poor soul had to get up early and leave — perhaps heading to another business meeting, or catching a Friday afternoon flight to Cabo for the weekend, I don’t know. Scott noticed her on her way out in the midst of his Q and A session.

He stopped, mid-answer, microphone in hand:

“Was it something I said?” 

All eyes turned to her. She wheeled around, a little flustered, and mumbled something as she made her way to the exit.

That’s a stand-up comic move right there. Control the room. 

Scott, if you decide to leave politics when you flee California, I would love to help brainstorm your stand-up material.

Anyway. Before I went through the buffet line, I decided to heed the call of nature.

I headed toward the restrooms, and ran into Santa Clarita Valley Emcee for Life Ed Masterson and Mayor Jason Gibbs. We made small talk. But I had places to go, so to speak.

As I got past the Emcee and the Mayor, I was presented with an unexpected choice:

“All-Gender Restrooms,” the signs read.

One to the left. One to the right. 

Deer, meet headlights. What to DO????

OK. No big surprise, really. COC is nothing if not Woke. Every third press release we get from the community college has the phrase, “diversity, equity and inclusion,” in it.

I also thought, “This IS an institution of higher learning. Maybe this is a Schrödinger’s Cat kind of thing? There’s a men’s room with urinals in one of them. Or both? Or neither? If you don’t open either door, then it’s in both. Or neither. At the same time.” 

Or something like that. The mind boggles. 

I didn’t study quantum mechanics as an elective in college. I took “The History of Rock ’n’ Roll” instead. Got an A despite only going to class four times. What can I say? It was an 8 a.m. class. That’s really early for a college kid, even if the class is about rock ’n’ roll.

I digress. There I was, facing a choice:

The All-Gender Restroom on the left? 

Or, the one on the right?

I went left. I opened the door and walked in.

Nothing but stalls. As far as the eye could see — or not — there was not a single wall-mounted urinal.

Clearly, this used to be the ladies’ room. Immediately, I felt like an interloper. I had visions of stumbling across a lady, fully clothed at the washroom sink, powdering her nose, seeing me and instinctively covering up her Lady Bits. 

“Help! Security! There’s a MAN in here! Masher!” 

I envisioned getting pummeled with a high-heeled shoe.

As I went into one of the stalls, I closed the door behind me and tried not to make that splashing noise that those of us who stand up doing our business tend to make. I also made a concerted effort to avoid the sorts of things men do in men’s rooms. 

You know. Farting. Making risqué jokes. (“Boy, the water sure is cold today … Deep, too.”)

Fortunately, no women were in the apparently Former Women’s Room while I was in there, so I escaped without being called a creep for being there. And yes, I put the toilet seat down. I’m not an animal.

I thought to myself, “OK, I get it. A public college is getting around the whole ‘transgender people in women’s restrooms’ thing by simply declaring all restrooms ‘all-gender.’ Probably the most expedient choice and offends the fewest people. But couldn’t they at least include a sign indicating which one has the wall-mounted urinals for those of us who are accustomed to doing our business standing up?”

The rest of the event went smoothly, and once I saw Scott call out the lady for leaving early, I kept my butt pinned to my seat. Afterward, I decided to go to the restroom again. I know. Twice. At one event. They only served a 4-ounce water bottle with lunch, so either it ran right through me or I was still internally struggling with the COC University Center’s version of Schrödinger’s thought experiment from 1935. (Guys. Really? A tiny bottle of water? Such a great lunch and we couldn’t pop for some iced tea? A glass of ice with a lemon wedge?)

So, I ventured back to the Schrödinger’s Cat dilemma: Do I take the one on the left again? 

Or, see what’s in the one on the right?

Feeling adventurous, I chose the one on the right.

And as I approached the door, I saw it. A sign. On the wall. Plain as day.

“Urinals and Stalls.”

Dang. It was there ALL ALONG. That Dianne Van Hook thinks of EVERYTHING. She’s always a step ahead of the rest of us.

I went in. And there they were: Wall-mounted urinals. It felt like … Home.

Then I saw her. A woman. 

In the Former Men’s Room Now Renamed the All-Gender Restroom … With Urinals.

I quietly slipped into a stall, and closed the door, forgoing the wall-mounted urinal so as to avoid making either of us uncomfortable. Again, I felt like an interloper. I did my business as quietly as possible, and when I came back out, she was gone.

I breathed a sigh of relief and thought to myself:

“At least I didn’t fart.”

Tim Whyte is the editor of The Signal.

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