I love my adopted city of New York. I believe that I always will. I do have one pet peeve, though. Actually, I have many peeves against the city living, but this one still bugs me whenever I see it happening on the street in public view. What I’m talking about is public exposure to the male genitalia.
Years ago, when I first moved to New York, I couldn’t count the number of times I’d be returning from work late and I’d be walking up the street to my room. In the distance, I’d see a man leaning his forehead against the side of a building, his shoulders slightly hunched. Or he’d be leaning against a car with an arm resting on the car’s roof. I’d keep walking the same path because I didn’t understand what I was seeing. I’m from the country. Back home, men didn’t urinate in the street in full view of anybody using the street to go somewhere. Men kept their private parts private. In the 18 years I lived in Ohio, I can’t remember ever seeing a man or a boy urinating in full view of anybody. I’m sure we didn’t have more men’s rooms in the country than in the city; maybe just better manners.
To make manners worse, once I realized what the men were doing, I’d scurry along. I’d keep my eyes on ground, trying to give the men more privacy than they afforded me. That never seemed to be good enough for the men. Somehow, they read my embarrassment as interest and they offered to give me the best sex of my young life. Or they wiggled it and ask me to give them mouth-to-genital stimulation. I even had one idiot expose himself on the train ten feet away while I was carrying my three-month-old son with me. I’d also seen mothers with young sons under ten, allowing them to urinate in the street behind cars.
I made a vow that I would never allow my son to expose himself in public like that. At times, that promise was difficult for me to keep. My son had a bad habit of waiting until we were out in the street with no public bathrooms in sight to start doing the “pee-pee dance.” You know the “dance,” where the little kid starts jumping up and down from one foot to the other complaining how badly they have to use the restroom. I’m shy by nature. It was difficult for me to ask complete strangers to use their facilities. I did it. I always found bathrooms for my son to use, even with signs claiming: “restrooms not for public use.” It helped that I had a kid doing the dance when I’d ask security guards or front desk managers or bartenders to use their bathrooms.
My success at finding and being able to use restrooms for my child always made me wonder why couldn’t those men do the same thing I did? Looking back, I think it had more to do with boundaries. I wanted my son to have them because I feared he could easily grow up to do what those men did. I often wondered about the boys whose mothers allowed them to urinate in the street. What kind of men did they grow up to become?
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