This afternoon, I dropped my wife off at her office before I went to the library. She had a few minor tasks to finish at work, and since her office is so close to the library, we rode together. When I asked my son if he wanted to go to work with his mommy or come to the library with me, I breathed a sigh of relief when he said, "I wanna go with mommy."
It's not that I don't enjoy spending time with my son, I do. But I was going to the library to do some research for The Brown Bookshelf, and I only had an hour to be there. I didn't want to spend one-third of my time walking back and forth, taking my son to the pottie. He does fine when he's at home, but when he's out in public it seems that he never gets his potty business taken care of in one session. It usually takes two, sometimes three in an hour.
At the library, I sat down at a computer terminal and began my search. I was looking for books written by the twelve picture book finalists for 28 Days Later. A young mother walked up and sat at a terminal to my right, her young son clutching at her side. No sooner than she began her search, her son whispers into her ear, loud enough for me to hear: "Mommy, I gotta go to the potty." The young mother groaned, agonized and mumbled something angrily under her breath. I chuckled to myself, wondering how many times she'd already taken him to the bathroom. She grabbed her son by the hand, and they briskly walked away. They never returned.
I checked out no less than 15 books and returned to pick up my wife and son. Then I called to let her know that I was downstairs waiting. She had finished her work and said that she would be down in a couple minutes. Her couple of minutes turned into almost 15, as I sat there reading the picture books I'd checked out. When they finally got into the car, my wife says that, as they were leaving the building, my son had to go to the bathroom. Again. I chuckled.
I'm still reading the book Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris. The book is written as a series of humorous essays. The problem is that I'm not finding most of these essays very funny. There are a few gems though, which is what keeps me reading. In one chapter, the author describes an experience where he is attending an afternoon dinner with his sister at the home of a friend. He excuses himself from the table to use the restroom where, in the toilet, he discovers the biggest turd he'd ever seen. Over the next 15 to 20 minutes, he becomes completely consumed with trying to get rid of this turd, so that he won't get blamed for having left it there. Oh, this is so funny, I laughed till I cried — I do the same thing! I could totally relate.
If I discover an awful smell, or worse yet, someone's unflushed leftovers in a public restroom (or my home even), I'm compelled to leave immediately, or get rid of their evidence so that I won't get blamed should someone enter behind me. The best humorous writing, I think, connects with a reader's everyday human experiences. I gotta remember that as I approach my writing in the year to come.