“Be the Queen”

Entrance to a bathroom in France (W-C Publics) with 'Je pisse donc je suis' in cursive writing and a silhouette of Queen Elizabeth II superimposed in the lower right corner

People celebrated 70 years of Queen Elizabeth II on the throne last weekend with street parties (it looked cold in the UK!), reminiscences about her reign (like this secret 1970s lawn chair party in Manitoba), scones and Pimm’s, and staggeringly expensive memorabilia.

My memories related to Liz are much more, um, visceral. Yes, I mean related to intestines or digestion.

At some point in my childhood, my mom wanted a more discrete way to check whether my brother and I were ready for a long car ride home. Instead of asking if we needed to tinkle or have a whizz or see a man about a horse (does anyone understand the origins of that last one), she would inquire: “Do you need to be the queen?”

Given the Queen’s packed calendar, one assumes dashing off to the loo whenever she gets the inkling is not an option. Liz would have to go when she could, not necessarily when she had to. And the sly reference to a throne doesn’t hurt, either.

The terminology continued when we got a dog. We used “Be the queen” as Sofie’s trigger phrase when toilet training her as a pup, thus starting a sixteen year practice of commanding her to be royalty .

I may not have any tales of visiting Buckingham Palace or plans to purchase a limited edition carriage clock, but I do cherish Queen Elizabeth II’s mark on my life. There’s no way the phase would ring the same with a king.

Happy belated Jubby, Liz — and thanks for the wee inspiration!


Image, with neat script on a public toilet in France reading “I piss therefore I am,” adapted from a photo by Tina Bosse on Unsplash.

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