If you have kids in minor hockey, you’ve been to a lot of arenas. Over the past seventeen years as a hockey mom, I’ve been to hundreds of them. Each arena has unique characteristics by which it may be evaluated. If you’re a player, you might judge the arena by the quality of the ice or the comfort and size of the change rooms. If you’re a hockey dad, you probably assess it by the prevalence of a bar or the clarity of the viewing glass. If you’re a hockey mom, you may consider the quality of their canteen coffee and the presence of functioning heaters in the bleachers. These are all very good criteria.
I judge arenas by their bathrooms.
Running from arena to arena, or errand to arena, or work and school to the arena, there is sometimes just no avoiding making that pit stop. And not all arena bathrooms are created equal. Not by a slap shot. In my enduring and endearing assessments of arena bathrooms, I have three classifications: Vintage, Contemporary, or Heavenly. I could write a book.
Vintage arena bathrooms were built in another era. You have approximately eighteen square inches to turn around and close the door; clearly humans were much smaller back in the vintage days. Perhaps flushable toilets did not exist back then because few toilets function in bathrooms of this era and clearly people washed their hands with frigid glacial ice water. I wonder if the love of Betty and Edwin, 1954 (scratched in a heart shape on the metal door with a hole where the lock used to be) still endures to this day. These bathrooms are used in extreme emergencies and only in pairs.
Contemporary arena bathrooms at least have lighting, even if it is just a bare, exposed bulb that makes you look like Sissy Spacek in Carrie. Toilet paper dispensers are standard in these arena bathrooms but the toilet paper itself may not be (hockey moms are pros, however, and always have an emergency supply in their purse … right next to the hockey tape). Contemporary bathrooms lack paper towels but do have hand dryers – usually one – which functions with the same power as the light bulb (if it functions). Contemporary means air drying.
What the blue whale is to the endangered animals list, the Heavenly arena bathrooms are to the hockey mom’s world; indeed they are rare. I recall one arena bathroom that had a flower arrangement! Okay, they weren’t real flowers but flowers... in an arena bathroom! It had a baby changing station and scented soap. It had automatic flushing toilets, and an abundance of toilet paper. I had a choice between using paper towels or power blow-drying the first layer of my skin off. I was enlightened.
You’ll be happy to know my assessment of arena bathrooms stops short of human behaviour and its dangers. After all, that’s a whole other story.
Despite their riskiness, arena bathrooms can be a lot of fun and a source of great laughter too. Which hockey mom hasn’t entered an arena bathroom to hear the plea of a youngster for someone to please help them wipe, or have a toddler stick their head under the door and offer a cheery, “Hi!”? Which hockey mom hasn’t complained about a noisy hockey mom from the other team, only to offer that same hockey moms toilet paper between stalls? There are friends of all kinds in arena bathrooms of all kinds.
Three cheers for arena bathrooms – may the Heavenly ones be always at your disposal!
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