I am I, Don Quixote,
The Lord of La Mancha,
My destiny calls and I go….to the bathroom.
That’s right. Since being diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome last year my interest in bathrooms and toilet technology has gone from somewhat eccentric to full bore obsessive. Like many others with IBS, I follow the popular bowel related blogs and websites like Flushthisbook, Ratemypoo and Doodie.com for divine inspiration and intellectual stimulation, so to speak. I’ve also been known to use Google Earth and GPS technology to locate the nearest available gas station pitstop, Porta Potty or restaurant restroom. Unfortunately Yelp and Trip Advisor have not yet developed a rating system for same, as I would probably consult that kind of practical guide more often then I would Zagats. I know that sounds outlandish, but when nature calls often, the errant knight and Jewish Pirate, CaptCliff must answer. Those lucky souls who dont have such difficulties are clueless to the extremes fellow sufferers go through to find some relief. IBS can seriously interfere with normal everyday functioning and even ones ability to make a living as noted by the recent news of a bank robber with IBS in Connecticut. Due to his affliction, he ended up dropping trough in the bank parking lot prior to his stick up, thus leaving a distinctive calling card for the cops. Talk about forensic evidence. He was probably robbing the bank to pay off his Gastroenterology bill, the literal equivalent of robbing Peter to pay Paul Goldstein, M.D.. All colonoscopies aside, the unpredictable course and long duration of IBS can seriously limit the mobility of individuals and make their lives an exercise in frustration and futility. In my own case, and as a licensed Clinical Psychologist, I have noticed how the psychological effects of having unpredictable bouts of diarrhea and constipation can become greater over time, leaving the IBS sufferers not so much bedridden as bathroom bound, and afraid to travel very far or wide. As a result I recently mustered up my strength and decided in two months time to go on a Holy pilgrimage of sorts, and to do as Don Quixote did in Cervantes beloved novel and boldly sang out in the lyrics to the Broadway musical, The Man of La Mancha. Instead of seeking fame and fortune as a knight, I would seek out interesting and exotic bathrooms across the US, beginning with the privvy of my childhood dreams at the Madonna Inn in San Louis Obispo, California. As a child I had stayed there with my family on vacation and then again as a newlywed 15 years later, showing my blushing bride what a giant waterfall urinal with a built in electric eye looks like. The skinny kid with a crew cut and Beatle boots in 1965 was later replaced by a long haired left-leaning U.C. Berkeley Psychology grad student looking to his future in the ghostly reflections of the Madonna Inn’s one of a kind hammered metallic bath fixtures. My ex-wife passed away from Lung Cancer in 1999, and now, as a 58 year old bald Baby Boomer with bowel problems (try to say that ten times fast) I am determined to revisit my youth and my glory days. I’m not sure what I will see staring back at me in the mirror this time around, but self-reflection is supposed to be the sine qua non of my profession, so we shall see. (to be continued)
Cliff Mazer, Ph.D. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and humorist in Atlanta who blogs on Facebook under his alter-ego, CaptCliff. He remembers well his mother’s admonition, ” Oy! What’s with the potty mouth?” Contact: 404-932-7193