A Song of Blood and Urine: Tales from the Glycemic Index

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My father and I shared something weird: a love of public restrooms. We would catalog them.

There are the unhygienic ones found at gas stations, where even the soap is dirty, full of foul graffiti and body fluids on every available surface. One half step above are roadside diner restrooms, that have condom machines (“Ribbed for Her Pleasure”). Then, better roadside diners with “themed” restrooms—e.g., Gents and Ladies, Ma and Pa. The restrooms at designated highway rest-stops are a mixed bag. Some are dingy and not well-kept. Others are so pristine, it's like no-one has ever done their business in there; you're the one to baptize the pale white urinal cake.

The mack daddy of all public restrooms can be found in the finest restaurants and hotels. The toilets whoosh with force. Sometimes, there are chandeliers in them. The stalls loo like they belong in the Restoration Hardware catalog. I remember one bathroom even had a fountain in it.

Daddy had another reason why cataloged bathrooms.

Genes are hauntings, ghosts hidden deep within the warp and weft of DNA. Some are like ‘sleeper cells,’ just waiting for a moment to be turned on. Daddy had diabetes. That’s why he peed so much.

My own sleeper cell gene awoke a few weeks ago. My trips to the bathroom were frequent. I would awake with a dry tongue, and had severe thirst that could never be slaked. While I drank (and subsequently peed), I was haunted by my father, and suddenly understood his peculiar interest in restrooms. I continued cataloging public restrooms, since I had use them so frequently. (Office bathrooms are midway between the better highway rest stops and the “themed” restrooms; on a scale of 1 to 10, they are in the 6-8 range). I came up with a thousand self-diagnoses, in a vain effort to deny the obvious.

When my vision began to blur, I could no longer ignore the warning signs, which at that point were the size of billboards.

Now my (late) father and I share another thing. We’re linked forever, by blood and urine.

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