I know I don't have to tell you that we, as Americans, are facing one of the most important and significant votes in the history of this great nation of ours.
This year, it is our patriotic duty as citizens to stand up and be counted, and to answer -- once and for all -- the question foremost on our collective minds:
Do you prefer the restroom with the gargoyle faucets, or the one that flushes with rainwater? The one with terrazzo flooring and glass-tiled walls, or the one with toilets featuring seat warmers, a pulsating water spray, built-in deodorizer and blow dryers -- all for your pampered posterior?
That's right, people. The "10th annual America's Best Restroom Contest" is under way.
Now, I'm not sure which part of that last sentence is more disturbing -- the fact that they're holding something called a "best restroom contest," or that they've actually been doing it for a decade.
But the exciting news is, this year, the public restrooms at our very own Snowbasin Resort are among the 10 finalists vying for the 2011 crown for best thrones.
The annual competition is conducted by Cintas, a Cincinnati company that specializes in uniforms, floor mats, restroom supplies and other items for business. The company says it created the contest to honor businesses that "place hygiene and style at the top of their priority list," and points out that "proprietors recognize the parallel between clean restrooms and customer retention."
I can vouch for that parallel. Because, usually, my continued patronizing of a business has less to do with the quality and affordability of its products, and more to do with whether or not they use those oh-so-sweet-smelling urinal cakes in the bathroom.
Mmmm, urinal cakes.
This year's winning water closet will receive "a plaque of recognition and a coveted place in the America's Best Restroom 'Hall of Fame' section of the program's Web site." Easy to see why companies would be fighting over such a prestigious award.
So then, how did I hear about this best-bathroom contest? From an emailed press release, written by Jason Dyer, public relations and marketing manager for Snowbasin Resort.
The email begins: "We have known for years that Snowbasin Resort offers the finest restroom facilities in the Mountain Resort Industry."
Hmmm, yes. Clearly, whenever any of us thinks of fine restroom facilities, Snowbasin Resort immediately springs to mind. Why, many's the time my wife and I, out running errands and suddenly finding ourselves in need of a bathroom, have said to one another, "I know it's 20 miles out of our way, but what say we pop on over to Snowbasin to use the finest restroom facilities in the Mountain Resort Industry?"
Continues Mr. Dyer's email: "Now is your chance to let people know that Snowbasin has the best bathrooms in the nation by voting!"
Just imagine the boost to tourism when potential visitors learn that Snowbasin has the best restrooms in all the land. Why, skiers from all over -- particularly those with restroom-intensive medical conditions like overactive bladder and irritable bowel syndrome -- will be flocking to the state.
I, personally, have already gone to www.bestrestroom.com, viewed photos of the 10 finalists, and promptly voted for Snowbasin as having the No. 1 bathrooms in the country -- this despite the fact some of the other finalists have some pretty cool features, like urinals mounted to an actual section of the graffiti-covered Berlin Wall, or faucets with water that flows in a sparkling red stream if it's hot and a blue stream if it's cool, thanks to ingenious lighting within the fixtures.
But even I have to admit that a close second to Snowbasin's facilities goes to Don's Johns, for its Presidential Luxury Restroom Trailer. That's because, unlike the other nine finalists, this one's a portable toilet.
And oh, what a portable potty. Features of the mobile restroom, which was actually set up for President Obama during the 2009 Inauguration, include granite counters, black marbleized walls, hardwood floors and a killer audio/video system.
This is particularly exciting news because it's never been easy to find even a marginally acceptable portable loo in this world. Which is the primary reason I stopped going to outdoor festivals.
Who knows? Perhaps one day, Cintas will offer a separate contest for that lowliest of restroom facilities -- you know, when you're out in nature and nature calls? -- the pit toilet.
And I've already got the first nomination for Best Pit Toilet Award: Southern Utah's Coyote Gulch, where the toilets feature a solar-powered composting system that uses copious amounts of sawdust. Most other wilderness pit toilets reek of dead and/or dying things. But between the sawdust and the pine-tree air freshener someone hung on the wall, these toilets smell just like Santa's workshop.
And that ought to be worth some sort of award.
Contact Mark Saal, who put himself through college as a freelance restroom attendant, at 801-625-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.