As late spring rolls into early summer, the itch to hang outside has people hankering for outdoor festivals. Cincinnati isn’t the most outdoorsy region of the county and travel agents aren’t generally highlighting weather conditions as part of the Cincinnati experience. The weather is ‘meh’ at best and, statistically, just over half of the days are cloudy. So summer, and its promise of sunshine is a call to step out.
Summer is, of course, scientifically measured as the time between the spring and fall equinox, but in more tangible, social terms, it is measured from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In Cincinnati that time is book-ended by two massive festivals: The Taste of Cincinnati (on Memorial Day) and the WEBN Riverfest Fireworks (on Labor Day).
These two big outdoor events, and all the ones in between, celebrate summer, beer, food, music, and community. And, less exuberantly, they also constitute Port-a-Potty season, a season of it’s own wrapped right up into Summer festivities. There’s just no way around it. If you’re celebrating summer at an outdoor event for any length of time, the line of Port-a-Pottys will begin to look (relatively) inviting.
I mark my personal PP season beginning Memorial Day but ending a little after Labor Day at Oktoberfest Zincinnati at the end of September (One extra month of being one-on-one with excrement!). The season kicks off each year at Taste (as the locals call it). When I’m strolling past the Port-a-Potty line holding my first beer of the fest, I feel strong and confident. Maybe, just maybe, I won’t have to use the facilities. Somewhere around beer three I break and head off to queue up because it’s time to break the seal of all seals.
I rationalize my situation while I’m in line for the first GO of the season. Spring PP use isn’t that terrible. The weather is cool-ish so the ingredients of the bowls are not cooking in ambient full-on summer heat. Pro-tip, use PP’s early in the day, and preferably on temperate, cloud-covered days. Sure, you can’t always sync up your bladder to the weather, but it’s a goal.
Another goal is to use PP lines as an chance to practice being a good human being. Generally, PP lines are very convivial. After all, we are all just a bunch of human animals reduced to one of our basest human needs – waste removal – and we’ve turned our regular most private activity into a group activity. If you’ve ever held a beer or a purse for a fellow human being while he or she used a PP, you can put that in your Positive Life column.
That goes double for when you come out of a stall and you warn the next person not to enter because what you’ve just experienced should not be experience by anyone else. It’s like taking a bullet for your fellow festival goers.
The first GO for summer, for women at least, triggers survival behaviors that have been put aside all winter. Thigh muscles need to be strengthened. The Low-Hover is a move not generally necessary outside of summer (minus a the occasional “questionable choice” winter entertainment venues). There’s also a matter of breath control. By the end of summer, I can hold my breath as long as I’m in a stall. No fetid air for me.
It’s easy to get lulled into the speed of the all dude line. As summer progresses, the realization that what waits on the seat from drunk guys’ lack of aim is, perhaps, worth spending an extra couple minutes in line behind ladies. Of course if the lady in front you has terrible Low-Hover skills, a wet seat also awaits.
While no one wants summer festival season to end, the last days of PP Season are definitely welcomed. By the time Oktoberfest rolls around, the PP lines, the smell, and the always empty hand sanitizer dispenser have taken their toll. The monstrosity of human innards laid bare starts to wears out its welcome.
Until then, Happy Port-a-Potty Season.