“While on the road to Cleveland with my wife and twin girls, a nefarious odor fills the cabin of our rented Dodge minivan. A quick scan via the rearview mirror reveals that I’m the only conscious soul in the vehicle. Nonetheless, it’s evident that someone has suffered a massive diaper blowout.
Penny erupts with a demonic cry. I consider rousing my wife for damage control, but rest is paramount. There is a moment of sheer panic; then, off in the distance, I see the welcoming logo of a Flying-J, and I think: ‘Everything’s going to be O.K.’ I burst through the sliding doors of the Flying-J like a paramedic ushering a gunshot victim. As I brush past the cashier, a friendly voice attempts to deliver a trite greeting. I avoid eye contact, and march directly to the men’s room.
A mere seconds later, I reemerge with beads of sweat partially masking my vision. I take a moment to wipe my glasses and calm myself. Joan happens to be the daytime manager. ‘Yes, we have a changing table in the women’s restroom,’ replies Joan. ‘Can I go in there? It’s an emergency,’ I plead. As Joan ponders how to resolve this modern dilemma, a drop of liquid poop oozes down Penny’s leg. Without another word, Joan grabs a ‘closed for cleaning’ sign and clears the women’s restroom. A lone, middle-aged woman exits in distress. Joan shouts ‘all clear’ before giving me the green light.
I hurriedly cross the threshold into foreign territory, but still mindful of the historic moment. The women’s room has a familiar feel but with subtle differences — like an alternate reality. As I pull down the changing table, I hear Joan apologizing ‘for the inconvenience.’ I place Penny on the board like a slab of meat, and focus on the task at hand. Instinct takes over. ‘This is why you practice,’ I think to myself. I triumphantly bound from the restroom minutes later. To my surprise, a line of women has already formed. I can feel the tension in the air. I want to run and hide, but my path is obstructed. As I hesitantly step forward, the women part like the red sea. A collective swoon fills the gap as they fawn over my happy blue-eyed angel. I think to myself, ‘The lack of changing stations is a struggle for dads, but at least we’ll always have the convenience of peeing while standing.'”
Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected].