American ingenuity truly is a wonder to behold. One can only surmise what we’d accomplish if we used it for something other than figuring out ways to pee around the ballpark without missing any fun.
I’m heading to Miller Park this weekend. This means a tailgate party, which leads to drinks, which leads to nature’s call. Sure, I could use a portable toilet, if I wanted to stand in line for 45 minutes and pick up some communicable diseases. Some guys have been known to use a bucket placed between parked cars, but you don’t have to hold a certificate from the Emily Post Institute to find that disgusting.
Fortunately, the can-do American spirit that beat the Nazis and invented the Snuggie has given fans other options. We’re first in war, first in peace and first in line for makeshift bathroom facilities.
When I complained of a full bladder at an opening day tailgate party at Miller Park this April, my kind host directed me to a privacy tent. Designed for showering or doing one’s business while camping, it afforded room for one occupant and privacy even in a packed parking lot. On my way into the toilet tent, I was handed a bag equipped with bio-gel powder. Fill it up, and the powder turns liquid into solid, so the bag can be disposed of with no sloshing or odor. I’d never felt prouder to be an American.
No doubt hard-core campers and hunters already knew of such innovations, but for me they were game changers. It was the most revolutionary development since the advent of the portable pouches you strap to your body beneath your clothes. Sure, some might be taken aback by the Beerbelly or the Stadium Pal, but they’re more discreet than their predecessor, the empty plastic bottle placed beneath your stadium seat. Sometimes in life there are only bad options: Miss part of the game or tailgate party, strap an external bladder to your skin or aim into the mouth of a cup while no one (hopefully) is watching. To pee or not to pee, that is the question.
Speaking of questions, you might be asking, “What is wrong with American sports fans, that they’re resorting to extreme measures to relieve themselves inside the ballpark and out?” We don’t want to miss any of the action, and we aren’t alone. Deciding it wasn’t a good look to have players peeing their pants and assistant coaches stooping over paper cups, NFL teams have begun putting tents on the sidelines to foster privacy. Those guys at NFL headquarters are real whizzes.
Inside stadiums, pushes from the American Restroom Association and World Toilet Organization have prompted teams to install adequate numbers of bathrooms. These groups advocate on behalf of women, who have been traditionally underserved by ballpark bathrooms, and all fans who suffer from conditions that demand access to private facilities. When you want more restrooms in the lobby, you want the World Toilet lobby.
This is all well and good for fans once they’re inside, but it doesn’t help the nation’s tailgaters. Fortunately, in true American fashion, the tailgaters have helped themselves. We know how to look out for No. 1.
As an avid tailgater, I applaud the innovators who’ve eased our pain and afforded us private dignity in the process. And yet I can’t help but what these brilliant minds might have accomplished if they’d tackled loftier challenges. Perhaps they could’ve cured diseases, ended hunger or achieved world peace.
At least they improved the world in their own small way. Tailgaters around the country should raise a bottle in their honor, assured in the knowledge they won’t have to use it for anything else later.