Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Single stall awkwardness

Scenario #1: You enter a multi-stall public restroom and find all stalls occupied. It's cold outside. There's a loud fan running in the room at all times. There's a large mirror, ample standing room and maneuverability, and a row of sinks.

Scenario #2: You open the door to a single stall public restroom and see the solitary stall door closed, occupied. The sink area, though a shelter from the winter chill, is silent as a church, and only slightly larger than a breadbox.

In each scenario, what course of action would you pursue? Tackling the scenarios chronologically, I'd say that in Scenario #1 I'd wait it out. The noisy fan is a major bonus and would function as a white noise machine to drown out any potentially awkward onomatopoeia. The row of sinks would mean that even if I needed to do any hand-washing to look busy and un-weird for standing there, I wouldn't block the personal space of anyone potentially exiting a stall. (To me, a post-stall person takes priority over a pre-stall person in sink matters.) Another bonus of the multi-stall restroom, sound-wise, is the anonymity factor. I'd rather not think so specifically about who's who in there, just in case anything speaks louder than that giant fan. Just saying. I'll gladly stand here and ignore all five doors without thinking what's behind any of them.

Unfortunately, the bathroom in Scenario #2 (pictured) is the closest faculty bathroom to my classroom. It's an island. Single stall awkwardness. For the subject of this post, I'm going to ignore the fact that a five minute passing period is not long enough to fight the teeming hordes of teenagers and swim upstream through the halls like a horny salmon. That's not even my problem with the bathroom sitch at work.

What inevitably happens to me, in the rare opportunity that I'm lucky to stake my claim to that one stall is that someone will walk down the hall after me, unlock the door to the bathroom, see stall door closed, and come inside and wait by the sink. This bathroom is so small it probably shouldn't even have a stall. It should probably just BE a stall. I could even probably understand this person waiting in the hallway outside and allowing me some privacy, but inevitably they come in and stand there. Look, I'm not trying to cover up anything weird, but that's a time I like to be alone. It gives me the heebies that somebody's all tra-la-la about standing three feet from me in my stall doin' my business. Though the waiting area is small and quiet as death, there they pause. I can't take it. There's no good solution to this equation: Talk? Weird. Don't talk? Also weird. It makes me absolutely 100% without-a-doubt crazy. It makes my skin crawl. I don't walk in and stand there listening to other people pee, and I'm not that interested in being listened to.

Oh God, I just wrote about people listening to me pee. What have I done? I might have to crawl into a hole in the ground and die just from typing it. I'll have to change my name and go into hiding because now I'm that person who repeatedly typed the word pee. Ugh. As you see, I have a few bathroom hang-ups.

I'm just not one for sharing bathroom time. I never have been. I wasn't one of those girls (you know who you are) who would walk in and use the bathroom at a sleepover even if her friends were primping and prepping in the mirror. Ew, ew, ew. I'm not judging you, it's just not for me at all. In fact, when I was at some of those parties, I'd just leave the bathroom if that happened. It's just not in my nature to be publicly nude or publicly demonstrating the functions of my body. I'm a modest girl, maybe even a little prudish. I know some of you are saying it's so natural, what's your problem? and I will reiterate my previous mention of the fact that there are plenty of things I am comfortable doing that I don't want to do in front of (or in earshot) of you. Nothing wrong with functions, just don't want to share 'em.

Even when E and I got married, shared restrooming wasn't in my comfort zone. Our first apartment had a broken master bathroom door that never closed. I'd go down the hall and use the front bathroom even in the middle of the night. What a nerd. At a New Year's Eve party my senior year of high school at ML's house, my then-boyfriend (not E) opened the bathroom door on me as I used it. The bathroom was at the end of the hall directly opposite the entryway, to my horror. I won't even tell you how long I had paranoia about people opening the door on me.

So like I said, I'm not so comfortable sharing that space or experience. So much has happened between me and E that I'm not quite as nutso (I mean, after you have a baby, wave goodbye to dignity and privacy) but I'd like to maintain a little mystery in my work relationships. It goes both ways. If I open that door to the single stall and see the stall occupied, I'll march myself down the hall to the multi-stall and wait there. There's just something much less invasive about that choice, even if it means making myself late to class. I mean, who wants to be the weirdo standing there listening to someone pee? Who wants to be listened to?

Not I. Pas moi.


  1. Found you through Brunch At Saks. Love the blog. I'm following you now. Check out my blog if you get a chance!

    Kori xoxo

  2. Yeah, I have a huge issues with bathrooms as well, half the time I can't even use public restrooms! And it's just kind of creepy that someone would just stand there and listen when they could just as easily wait outside..but I love your postings, they always make me laugh! And you've inspired me to want to take up crocheting too, I don't know if it will ever happen, but I can dream..

  3. I completely agree w/ you- especially with the smaller bathroom. How uncomfortable!

    Hope you are having a good day :)

  4. It's amazing how giving birth sends modesty out the window with your spouse. Ah ha. Other people though. That's another story!