If you gotta go

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  April 25, 2007

It’s Saturday night, and you’ve had a few drinks at your favorite bar. Your designated driver announces it’s time to leave, but before the long ride home, your kidneys demand to be tapped. You head for the restrooms, only to find the one designated for your gender is occupied. And, based on the sounds emanating from within, it’s likely to remain that way for a while. After which, you probably wouldn’t want to use it, unless you happened to be wearing a hazmat suit.

Your need is urgent, and your DD has that tendency, often found in sober people, to grow impatient. The other bathroom is sitting there empty. So, you do the only sensible thing.

Nearly everyone who’s spent any time in pubs has used the other sex’s facilities on occasion. At best, it solves your problem and inconveniences no one. At worst, you emerge from the wrong door to be greeted with a caustic comment from somebody who’s been kept waiting, which provides an opportunity to demonstrate how imbibing half a dozen boilermakers improves your witty repartee.

“Hey!” a lady admonished me as I tried to sneak out of the females’ facility at my local bar. “You’re not a woman.”

“Yes, I am,” I replied. “I’m a very ugly woman.”

Given the propensity of those in power to meddle in trivial matters, I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a legislator would want to make an activity I’ve been engaging in my entire adult life (and, technically speaking, for a couple of years before my adult life officially began) illegal. Republican state representative Brian Duprey of Hampden — a guy who’s quoted in “A Citizen’s Guide to the 123rd Maine Legislature” as saying he wants to restrict government to a “much more limited role than the one it currently has” — is sponsoring a bill to have people arrested for answering nature’s call in the wrong phone booth.

Duprey’s measure is called “An Act To Prohibit the Use of Opposite-Gender Bathrooms, Changing Rooms and Locker Rooms.” It makes urination subject to regulation, castigation, and mitigation in the form of fines, jail time, and community service, possibly involving the cleaning of public toilets.

“This is stiff protection for women,” Duprey said. “And for men, too.”

You may remember Duprey from his 2005 appearances on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Fox News’s The O’Reilly Factor, not to mention Rush Limbaugh’s and Al Franken’s radio programs. What put him on the talk-show hot list was a bill he introduced that year that would have prevented women from aborting their fetuses if they discovered the little boogers carried a gene that would cause them to grow up to become homosexuals. In his broadcast appearances, the representative, an ardent opponent of gay-rights legislation, said he didn’t believe such a gene existed, but had introduced the measure in order to force liberals to oppose it, thereby somehow validating his claim that being gay is a lifestyle choice.

Duprey also attracted attention in ’05 for sponsoring a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, as well as a constitutional amendment to outlaw it. I forget why that made sense.

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