I have been avoiding this topic due to the edgy subject matter. If you are a regular reader of my work, you are aware of the extremity of my boundaries. Even so, this is a very private subject for most people. It seems strange as pretty much everyone experiences the toilet several times per day. As a matter of fact, the only people I can think of who have an extreme sense of freedom regarding the toilet are the nearly ten percent of the U. S. population who have been incarcerated for a week or more.
What really amazes me is that the privacy issue with regard to the evacuation of waste extends well beyond the stall door. I know many people that automatically break eye contact and turn their head away when their dog stops to take a dump. When using the restroom with Carlos, a former co-worker, he would always use the stall to pee, instead of a neighboring urinal. I assumed that he had some level of public performance anxiety. I tested my theory by calling out, “You okay in there Carlos? Can’t you go with anyone watching?” It turned out that indeed he could not. It probably doesn’t help when I constantly bring it up.
We even use dozens of euphemisms to soften the blow, so to speak. We use the crude; piss, dump, crap, shit, the descriptive; leak, squirt, log, deuce, brick, the colloquial; pish, pee pee, kaka, dookie, poop, doody, the clinical; urine, stool, defecation, fecal matter, and the prim, tinkle, number one, bowel movement, number two. Feel free to send me the terms that your family used. I grew up in a pish and doody home. I asked my wife about her childhood, but after 35 years of marriage, she still won’t tell me.
This also seems odd because of the health aspects of waste evacuation. Check WebMD and you will see that urinary and colon dysfunction is a symptom of nearly every internal ailment. When I was a kid, if I complained about any physical discomfort, including a hangnail, my grandmother’s first question would always be, without fail, “When did you last move your bowels?” It was the miracle cure since I knew that the next question would be, “Has anyone seen the rectal thermometer?” The kids with perfect attendance aren’t the healthiest. They just have the most anally fixated parents.
I’ve broken down the rest of this treatise in sections so that you readers can skip any parts that you find potentially offensive or distressing. Actually, you may want to print it and leave it next to the toilet. This way, if you really hate it, you can wipe your ass with it and at least figuratively give me the lowest of reviews.
Most bathrooms look pretty much the same, but I’ve seen a few that stood out. Once at a public park to watch my son play baseball, I went to relieve myself and found the coolest urinals. They were similar in shape as the porcelain models, but these were completely made out of riveted sheet metal with sharp corners and angles. I immediately thought that they would be what I’d expect to find on a Klingon warship.
I have visited a small number of ladies rooms albeit always by accident. Usually it’s in a theme restaurant with some cutesy name replacing Men and Women. I recall a seafood place that had Buoys and Gulls. I was halfway through the crowded Gulls room before I got the bit.
My friend Tyrone is a professional driver and often works in Manhattan. Unfortunately, he also has frequent gastric issues. As a result, he has a near encyclopedic knowledge of all of the usable bathrooms in the city. He can let you know which are closest to temporary parking, which ones have attendants (Tyrone is a generous men’s room attendant tipper), and even the décor. His favorite is a hotel with floor-to-ceiling privacy doors.
Urinal decals can be a nice enhancement. I’ve seen some sponsored by a local exterminator (aptly named Nozzle Nolen). The urinals have decals in the center of a target with an invasive pest in the middle with suggestions to improve your aim. Another favorite was a trip to a bathroom in a sports stadium. Each urinal had a decal depicting one of their rival teams. Classy.
The worst design in any bathroom is one where a mirror is placed directly opposite the toilet. If anyone questions why bathroom activities are meant to be private, this view of yourself is certain to make all answers clear.
I’m not sure why, but the public bathrooms in New Jersey and New York tended to be total biohazards compared to other places I’ve lived and visited. I’d hate to think that there are proportionally more savages in the Northeast, but I have seen some nasty, well…shit. People piss on the seat, the floor, the roll of toilet paper, even the top of the urinal. On my worst day, I couldn’t even imagine doing such a thing.
Tyrone’s pet peeve is people not washing their hands. He’s chased people down the hall to call them out and to shame them. I love the handwashing instructions. At my previous school, there were several steps listed including repetition and decisions. I actually brought it to class to teach flowcharting and hygiene together.
Once I was in a stall and in the stall next to me, a guy was having a loud conversation on his phone. It was bizarre and annoying. I cried out in fake pain as though I was passing a kidney stone. When the dope failed to get the message, I got louder and began cursing the Gods for causing my deep constipation. Eventually, he got the message and shut up.
My pet peeve is waiting in a fast food joint to use a single restroom and when the previous user steps out…well, picture this: A rather large fellow exits the room. He is generally north of 350 pounds, and is obviously at lunch after a sweaty morning of farming, roofing, sumo wrestling, or whatever. He usually will have a long beard and several tattoos as well as some sort of biker regalia squirting out between his jeans and his overhanging gut. Anything less than four burritos would be a light nosh for this gentleman. I make no judgement other than the fact that he leaves the bathroom walking as though he just delivered a small calf. You know…I think I can wait.
Is there a place that always gets your bowels moving? I have no idea why, but for me it is the Public Library. It is a rare visit where I am not running to the can within minutes of looking in the stacks. Weird, right?
I went into a bathroom to pee once and there were two urinals. One has a hole cracked in the porcelain, so I decided to use the undamaged one. Shortly afterward, while I was doing my business, I guy wearing a suit bellies up to the other one. After I finish, I pull on the flusher and a torrent of pee water blasts out of the other guy’s urinal and soaks his suit and pants. I’m pretty sure I darted out without washing my hands and a quick, “Sorry, Dude.”
One visit to a stall in a Publix supermarket involved an odd sight. The sink was inside of the stall and when I threw out my paper towel, I noticed that there were a couple of dozen scratch-off lottery tickets on top of the trash. All of the scratch-off material was there as well so it was obvious that someone bought them, and immediately went into the stall to test their luck. I hope they at least had a smooth poop.
Now that everything is electronically controlled, the public bathroom is a constant source of amusement and embarrassment. The toilets, urinals, sinks, soap dispensers, and paper towel dispensers all have the potential to be automated. How many times have you held your hand out waiting for something to happen before realizing that you actually had to operate the one device manually? I’ve also had toilets or paper towels come to life by just moving too close to the sensor.
My favorite bathroom activity is when someone stands next to me at a urinal just as I get there. I will turn to the gentleman and quickly say, “On your mark, get set, go!” You might think this would result in an ass-whupping, but two things are guaranteed. The person will not be able to pee, and they will never respond or acknowledge the challenge. I zip up, lift up my arms, say “WIN”, and head to the sink. Never fails.