When you’ve gotta go …

Senator Craig would never have dared hit on anyone in a women’s restroom. They’ve really gotta go.

No. 3?

No. 3?

Pat Lynch is a Sacramento resident who’s at work on a novel.

The scandal surrounding Senator Larry Craig was enlightening. It revealed a men’s room subculture that I didn’t know about, complete with foot-tapping and hand-sliding. And if they’ve got foot-tapping and hand-sliding, it’s a good bet they’ve got winks, nods and maybe even more elaborate codes, like turning their baseball caps backward to indicate a fondness for passive, rather than active, engagements.

Perhaps the executive types loosen their ties and let them flap on either side of their necks—this used, of course, to advertise for oral action. We know that Republican senators like to wring their hands for two minutes while peeking through stall cracks at their quarry.

I wonder what codes televangelists and conservative pundits employ? Maybe they turn their little flag lapel pins upside down, using the distress signal to show that they’ve desperately got to have it: blowhard sex. Whatever they do, I’m all for it, because when they start panting they stop ranting.

I asked a male friend just how much lechery really goes on in men’s rooms.

“You don’t want to know,” he replied. He further explained that, while some men’s rooms had a utilitarian atmosphere and were used exclusively for the business of voiding, others offered adventures that mere voiders didn’t seek. “You go in fast, keep your eyes straight ahead, don’t look at anybody, and leave the way you came in—fast!” he said.

But another friend who said he’d been eyed more than once didn’t even know such “codes” existed. Tim, a sensitive guy, was full of questions. Do the codes apply only to stalls? Are there different codes for different cities? Or is there an international system, like the red-circle-and-slash that means “Don’t”?

Tim was wearing shorts and nerdy, calf-high socks—in defiance of the sartorial directions I’d repeatedly given him. Time for an opportunistic lie.

“Actually, your socks are a code,” I said.

“Oh, hell no! What do they mean?”

“Rub-a-dub,” I said.

Tim took off his socks and didn’t even ask what “rub-a-dub” meant, which was a good thing, since I’d made it up on the spot. Tim is not at all homophobic, but he dislikes come-ons. His lack of sympathy for Senator Craig’s arrest in the Minneapolis airport john was because of Craig’s sanctimonious, anti-gay hypocrisy—and because he’d called President Clinton a “naughty, nasty boy” during the impeachment scandal.

“I don’t want a phony like Craig trying to rub-a-dub me,” said Tim.

Craig may be a hypocrite, but I feel sorry for him, as I feel sorry for most people who get caught in a victimless escapade. Craig did have victims, however: The millions of gay people damaged by the backward, punitive policies he advocated. Still, a minuscule, nonpartisan part of me feels sorry for him. I feel sorry for anyone who dreads to live his authentic life.

The strain of seeking furtive, anonymous sex in airport bathrooms must be awful. I’m glad I don’t have to go through that. It’s bad enough to be a woman who actually uses public restrooms for their intended purpose. We often have to inch forward in long lines—and I’ve stood in a million of them.

But not once in those million times have I ever seen another woman tap out a code or snuggle her high heels up next to someone else’s under the stall divider. Maybe it goes on and I don’t know it because I’m nobody’s type. But my friends all say the same thing. Nothing like that goes on: no codes, no furtive groping, no anonymous sex.

It’s probably because women’s rooms only have stalls and, with women lined up waiting for the next empty one, we have to be efficient. Knowing there’s a bursting bladder right outside our door makes us hyper-vigilant, so we don’t dawdle or play footsie.

Kinky overtures are also rare in women’s rooms because we wear complicated clothing. You’re not going to get a little quickie spanking if you have to first wriggle out of your Spanx. There’s no time for any hanky-panky. Men who want to make a connection can loiter and either get lucky or get arrested. We don’t have time for that. Even if we tried, we’d just get nervous—and that makes us have to go.

So, in some small ways, biology is destiny. We don’t get hit on in the women’s room. It’s not that we’re better people. It’s just that we really have to pee.