(A posting on the compound rest stop is inevitably going to take us into the world of mansex, so this posting will, eventually, be way out of bounds for kids and the sexually modest.)
The morning name on the 19th, which led me immediately to other rest compounds: rest area and restroom.
There are the signs. What do we expect at the places the signs direct us to?
On the compounds. From OED3 (Mar. 2010), in the apparent order of their appearance in texts:
restroom: Originally: a room (usually in a public building or workplace) set aside for rest and relaxation (now rare). In later use (U.S.): a lavatory in a public building or workplace. [first cite in original sense a1856; first lavatory cite:]
1890 Ann. Rep. Directors Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company 39 Each building is equipped with reading rooms provided with wholesome literature; also with bath and rest rooms. [In early instances, the compound was spelled separate rather than solid.]
rest area n. a place designated for rest; spec. (a) (Mil.) an area away from the front line in which soldiers can recuperate, carry out maintenance, etc.; (b) (N. Amer.) an area at the side of a road where vehicles may pull off the road and stop. [first cite 1916; first roadside cite, with restrooms presupposed:]
1976 G. V. Higgins Judgem. Deke Hunter ix. 86 The youth..stopped in a rest area..so that the subject could relieve himself. [This strikes me as very late for this compound, though it just might be that other terms were used for such places. For instance, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which opened in 1940, has service plazas.]
rest stop n. chiefly N. Amer. a lay-by or roadside stopping place, often provided with facilities for travellers; cf. rest area n. (b). [first cite 1930]
So restroom was originally ‘room for rest(ing)’ and then specialized (in the U.S.) to refer to just one of the activities one might engage in in such a room.
Similarly, rest area was originally semantically transparent, but then specialized in two different contexts, military and (in North America) automotive. Still, area maintains its root sense. But stop in rest stop is itself specialized. NOAD2 on relevant senses of the noun stop (a nouning of the verb), starting with its root sense, 1:
1 a cessation of movement or operation: all business came to a stop | there were constant stops and changes of pace; [1a] a break or halt during a journey: allow an hour or so for driving and as long as you like for stops | the flight landed for a refueling stop; [1b] a place designated for a bus or train to halt and pick up or drop off passengers: the bus was pulling up at her stop.
The sense of stop in rest stop has elements of the senses [1a] and [1b]: like [1b] it refers to a place, an area, but (see [1a]) specifically devoted to breaks during a journey. The full compound rest stop is then further specialized to denote places that provide various services for automotive travelers taking a break in their trips.
From early on, it seems that one of the usually expected services at rest areas and rest stops has been restrooms. Sometimes the signage makes this explicit, as in this Australian sign:
which tells travelers that this particular area has truck parking, restrooms, and picnic tables.
Rest areas or rest stops with minimal services are often marked by signs that indicate this. For instance, if the location provides only a lay-by (‘an area at the side of a road where vehicles may pull off the road and stop’ (NOAD2)) plus a picnic area, this sign says so:
Wikipedia treats rest area as the most embracing term and attempts to take in customs and terminology from all around the world, including both government-run and private commercial sites, somewhat chaotically:
A rest area, travel plaza, rest stop, or service area is a public facility, located next to a large thoroughfare such as a highway, expressway, or freeway at which drivers and passengers can rest, eat, or refuel without exiting onto secondary roads. Other names include motorway service area, service station, rest and service area (RSA), resto, service plaza, and service centre. Facilities may include park-like areas, fuel stations, restrooms, restaurants, and dump and fill stations for recreational vehicles. A rest area or rest stop with limited or no public facility is a parking area or scenic area. Along some highways and roads are rest stops known as a wayside parks, roadside parks, or picnic areas. Rest areas are common in the United States, Canada, Australia, and parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia. The most basic rest areas have no facilities: they consist solely of an exit from the highway that leads to a roadway with paved shoulders, where drivers can rest, look at their maps, or use cell phones.
Many government-run rest areas tend to be located in remote and rural areas where there are practically no fast food or full-service restaurants, gas stations, motels, and other traveler services nearby. The locations of rest areas are usually marked by signs on the highway; for example, a sign may read, “Next Rest Stop 10 miles” or “Next Rest Area 25 km”.
Driving information is usually available at these locations, such as posted maps and other local information. Some rest areas have visitor information centers or highway patrol or state trooper stations with staff on duty. There might also be drinking fountains, vending machines, pay telephones, restrooms, a gas station, a restaurant, or a convenience store at a rest area. Some states provide Wi-Fi access at their state-owned rest areas or are considering doing so… Many rest areas have picnic areas. Rest areas tend to have traveler information in the form of so-called “exit guides”, which often contain very basic maps and advertisements for motels and tourist attractions.
Privatized commercial rest areas may take a form of a truck stop complete with a filling station, arcade video games, and recreation center, shower facilities, and fast food restaurant, cafeteria, or food court all under one roof immediately adjacent to the freeway. Some even offer business services, such as ATMs, fax machines, office cubicles, and internet access.
In the U.S., at any rate, there is a strong expectation that something labeled a rest stop will have restrooms available, either in free-standing structures or along with a filling station or a restaurant of some sort. The canonical rest stop, in fact, has free-standing restrooms (and sometimes very little else), making their mensrooms prime candidates for roadside t-rooms: places for mansex, either in the mensroom itself or by negotiation (in the mensroom or outside it) for action elsewhere. Any mensroom in a public building is a potential t-room, but rest stop mensrooms are especially well-suited for this purpose.
Rest stop mansex. I’ve posted fairly often on t-room sex — most recently on 1/24/17 in “A day with Danny Vox in the ultimate fantasy t-room”. That was in a bus station mensroom. On to rest stops and Conner Habib’s Salon essay of 3/29/12, “Rest stop confidential: Across America, countless men are meeting up for sex in highway bathrooms. I’m one of them. Here’s why”. Highlights:
If you’ve ever pulled over to a rest area, you’ve been near men having sex. I’m one of those men, I’ve done it a hundred times; we go into the woods or a truck with tinted windows, in a stall under cold light. It never stops, not for season or time. In the winter, men trudge through snow to be with each other, in the summer, men leave the woods with ticks clinging to their legs. Have you ever stopped at a rest area and found it completely empty? There’s always one man there, in his car, waiting to meet someone new.
This has been going on for a long, long time. The new ways that men meet — endlessly staring into phones, searching on hookup apps like Grindr or sites like Manhunt — haven’t changed the fact that we’re still having sex at rest areas, because they offer something different. For the man who is unsure of his sexuality, or unsure of how to tell others about it, for the man who has a family but feels new desires (or old, hidden ones) unfolding inside of him, the website and the phone apps are just too certain of themselves. They’re for gay men who want to have gay sex. Sex at the rest area, instead, abolishes identity; there’s a sort of freedom there to not be anything – instead, men just meet other men there; men who want the same sort of freedom.
… Sometimes men go to rest areas because there’s nowhere else to go. My college town and my hometown were surrounded by thick lines of trees and post-industrial abandoned factories. There was no way to meet anyone, or if there was, it felt forced, somehow. Maybe I could go on dates with a few guys who were out like me, but I didn’t really want to go on dates, so it would’ve been dishonest. The straight students were going to parties and hooking up, making out on the green, having sex in dorms. The gay guys had to do what they could, wherever they could find it. Making out drunkenly with straight also-drunk frat boys, sex in the library with townies, trips to the nearest big city: either do those things or sit with your sexual feelings, like many of us had our entire lives. All that energy and nowhere to put it, no one to share it with.
Someone else would park next to me and look over. There were lots of old men, and younger ones too. There was no signal, just the way we looked at one another. We could tell. I would go into the little bathroom building, like the one in Maine. At the urinals, when the bathroom was mostly empty, we could stand side by side and reach over to each other. Or if not at the urinals, someone would be sitting in the stall next to me, tapping his foot, and I’d get on the cold dirty floor and slide my body halfway underneath the divider or sometimes there’d be a hole in the wall.
After awhile I began to develop a strange feeling at rest areas, like I was giving myself to someone. Not that I gave my full self, but that the part of myself I did give was complete. There was no pretense, no awkward conversation or dancing around whether or not I should be attracted to somebody. There was no wondering if someone was straight or gay; there was no sexual orientation at all. We were just there, together, as ourselves.
Often, there was fence that blocked off the woods, and a break in that fence cut by someone who had been there before. There was a path of mud through the grass, worn down by use. In the woods, we’d find a clearing, and there, many things would happen. So many people and bodies, all looking for the same thing. So many of us past the fence, in the woods, under the sky. It was easy, at times like that, to see that there are far more men in need of other men than anyone knows.
And just as people’s identities blurred up, so did the idea of place itself; that was part of the appeal. Once I saw a bag of condoms nailed to a tree with a sign that read, “Be Safe Guys.” It was a kind gesture, but it somehow felt like an intrusion. Because these places weren’t quite places, they weren’t destinations; not for most people. They were away from hookup websites, away from houses, bars, clubs, lives — removed from the world. And when the world crept in, it made the experience less real, less itself.
… These places give wholly different lives to some people. I don’t know if these men are “gay” or “straight.” Does it matter? At a spot that for most people is on the way to somewhere else, men can meet each other and meet themselves.
I live in San Francisco now, and there’s more acceptance here of sexuality and identity than anywhere I’ve ever been. There’s also very little anonymous sex. “Anonymous” sex here means meeting a man online or on Grindr or at the bar, learning his name, going back to his apartment or mine. It’s not a bad thing, of course, but I miss being a nobody at an in-between place, a no-place. Here, I have to be somebody, everything is so defined around the edges. At the rest area, I could just be a body, be there for some other body that I didn’t know, that was longing for the sort of comfort and love that only no one, nowhere could give.
Conner Habib has appeared on this blog before, most notably in my AZBlogX posting of 4/1/13, “Easter threesomes”, where I quoted from a writer on gay porn:
Conner Habib isn’t just a pretty face – or a horny, hairy fucker – he’s got one degree and has been studying for another in philosophy. A creative writing and literature teacher by profession, he left his job to go to San Francisco and make porn. He first made a big splash in the industry in 2009 and describes his idols as Blake Harper and Zak Spears. He says he got into the porn in part to use some of the sexual energy he generates and some of his best work has been with Raging Stallion. You’ll more often see him bottoming but he has topped too – and in 2010 he was named best newcomer at the GayVN Awards.
Habib has a web site that features both his writing and lecturing about sex and pornography and also his porn career (with photos). And then he won a 2016 Sexual Freedom Award (UK), getting this write-up as Publicist of the Year:
Conner Habib is an author, lecturer, activist, and porn performer. His essays and articles have appeared in Stranger, Salon, Vice, Slate, The Advocate, and many other magazines and anthologies. In over eight years, he has appeared in nearly 200 adult scenes; and from 2014- 2016, served as the Vice President of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC); a nonprofit which works to improve quality of life, experiences, wages, and safety of current and future adult performers. Conner gives lectures at organizations and universities around the world on pornography, sexuality, and culture. In 2013 he was the first gay adult performer to speak at MoMA in New York. His next course is on Banishing the World: Postmodern Philosophy & The Occult on the intersection of critical theory, occult philosophy and postmodernism.
Read more here: “If You’re Against Sex Work, You’re A Bigot“; “What I Want To Know Is Why You Hate Porn Stars“; “Why Are We Afraid To Talk About Gay Porn“; The Sex Radicals: blog series on sexually radical thinkers – starts here (then follow through with links).
Along with this encomium came the award statue, a flying golden penis:
And now some gay porn set in a park restroom. Not quite a rest stop mensroom, but close. The video, posted about on the NuttyButt site, is a Men.com Str8 to Gay episode, with Dustin Tyler and Owen Michaels. The beginning of the encounter, from NuttyButt:
Dustin Tyler and Owen Michaels are two sexy beefy studs out cruising around the park restrooms looking for some action. Dustin Tyler is a straight man who has never bottomed before. He’s appeared in straight porn, has a very thick cock and is always horny. Dustin is out cruising the park, hoping he can find some fag to suck his cock. He’s just horny and he wants to get off and doesn’t care who does it. Owen Michaels is also out cruising. Owen is a gay guy who frequents the park looking for anonymous sex. When Dustin sees Owen going into the public restroom he follows him in hoping for a quick blowjob. As the guys stand at the urinal pissing, they sneak a [peek] and check out each other’s cocks.
The urinal scope-out: Michaels and Tyler
The action then works its way to a flip-fuck. Michaels gets his on the sink in the mensroom; I include a cropped photo of this event (Michaels on the sink, Tyler visible in the mirror) because it’s an illustration of the unlikely sexual arrangements in gay porn: this would be immensely uncomfortable and tricky to bring off in real life, but in gay porn it has the advantage of making both men’s cocks maximally visible for the viewers of the video.
P.r. photos of Michaels and Tyler — rear-view shots, so postable on this blog:
So we started with a break from driving and ended up with hard-core mansex. Facilis descensus Coito.