MY MOM and I shivered slightly from the chill of the breeze on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile towering in the distance. Our running clothes weren’t providing much warmth, so we huddled together as we queued up for the toilets. She always had to pee before a race. Next to the toilets were gray triangular structures, reminding me of plastic corrals. A man approached one of them and stood in front of it.
“Oh, hey,” I said to my mom, “they have water-bottle filling stations—” I stopped and stared as another man approached and pulled out his penis. “Er… never mind.” Okay, not water-bottle filling stations. Water emptying stations.
Yup, that was the pale head of a penis. Pretty unmistakable. They didn’t really show their differences until they were ready for action. The man holding the penis had some impressive and very distinguishable arm tattoos, however. A smile tugged at my lips.
The tattooed guy released a wide stream of clear piss.
“Wow,” I muttered. “He really has to go.”
My mom glanced over and started laughing. “Those would be urinals, not water stations, sweetie.”
We watched him. “He’s still going,” I said.
“Well, he hydrated properly,” my mom said.
I nodded. Our line was barely moving, but men approached and left the urinals. Some guys weren’t as comfortable as my tattooed guy, and stood closer so I couldn’t see their junk.
We had been standing there for a half hour, and impatience crept into me. Europeans were a tad stingier with their toilets than the US. They were also stingy with toilet paper. Truthfully, I didn’t have to go that bad—we were standing here for my mother’s sake, but I wanted to use those urinals, just like all the men. Fuck waiting in line. I’d go up there, pull down my pants, thrust my hips forward… and piss all over myself.
Our tattoo guy had finished up long ago, but I caught him queuing up for one of the toilets.
“Guess he has to take a shit too,” my mom whispered to me.
I laughed, but I was distracted and it came out more like a bark. I crossed my arms, frowning. “Mom, you believe in God, right?”
“Do you think God makes mistakes?”