I’ve waited as long as I can, but the taco salad from lunch and the fried chicken from last night are an unforgiving lot. When it’s time, it’s time—and it’s time.
I sigh, bury my pride, and begin the trek toward the office ladies’ room. I walk slowly, glancing all around, trying to be nonchalant when I am really casing the perimeter for potential interlopers. It may be a public space, but I need it to be private right now. It’s my turn to mark the territory.
I approach the desks of the guys who are stationed near the door of the women’s room. I don’t make eye contact—neither do they. Everyone pretends we are not here, that this is not going on. I try not to think about the two trips I’ve already made here today—to pee and to primp—not that long ago. The guys play along. We don’t dwell on those types of thoughts here—it’s a tacit agreement we all have … sure, we all do it, but we don’t talk about it.
Like a runway model, I make one last right-left-right head turn before opening the gates to hell: the Tartarus of the twin toilets.
Why this is considered a public restroom is beyond me. There are two stalls, one is regular, the other is handicapped sized. A real public bathroom is busy—multiple stalls, hand blowers, chatting women, maybe a cleaning lady restocking toilet paper. In this bathroom, it’s so quiet, you can hear a … well, you can hear anything that might drop.
Because of the cramped quarters, there is skill and precision involved in this procedure. The point is to get in and out as fast as possible, period. The faster your transaction, the less likelihood of intruders.
Fuck the seat cover—there’s no time. Unless you have an open sore on your butt and the seat is covered with someone else’s donation, risk it; the seat cover wastes precious time. We are talking Olympic trial qualification times here—it’s poo or die.
Hopefully, you did not come too early. Hopefully you waited until you were nearly hunched over with cramps and the little sucker is practically on its way out. You aren’t at home with the copy of Vogue. Every second that ticks off the clock brings with it the possibility of her. You know who—the doesn’t-get-the-hint-and-leave girl.
You know what I mean. You are mid-squeeze when the door opens. Shit! It’s library quiet in there and you are in the middle of your contribution. If you stay and wait, she will inevitably sit down and do her dainty pee while peering under the stall wall to see whose feet you are wearing. Then she flushes and advances to the mirror where she proceeds to touch up every feature on her face, rummage through her purse, and hum lightly to herself.
Why won’t you leave? you silently cry. Everyone knows what’s up. She hasn’t heard a splish or splash since she walked in. She hasn’t even heard you breathe; she knows what you are doing. Leave, dammit! Make some noise even! But she takes her sweet time, all the while implying that she would never be caught dead dropping the kids off at the public pool—she has a pool at home.
You’re trapped mid-crap and neither a force-finish or a hasty retreat is a good option. If you leave and come back later, you have to face the guys again on your fourth trip of the day. If you stay, you know that she knows who the silent chick behind door number two is and every time you see her in the hall, you will be reduced to the girl that was pooping in the bathroom. Ha ha.
Another lovely scenario is what I call the why-in-the-world-won’t-you-use-the spray woman. I walk into the bathroom, not even in a hurry because I am only going number one, and the smell hits me. Fuck! There are baskets of potpourri and orange sprays in both stalls and yet some idiot decided that her ass-roma was delightful enough to let linger. What is wrong with people? Use the spray! The only positive thing about this scenario is if you do have some business to do, you can relax. If someone comes in, it already smells and you will automatically be blamed, so you’re screwed anyway—you may as well take your time.
The only thing worse than this is when you use the spray yourself and don’t manage to get away from the falling particles. You step out of the bathroom and then it hits you—I smell like the damn spray! And since it’s weapons-grade industrial cleaner and smells like no perfume, oil, or any scent from nature, you are screwed. You smell like the bathroom; you are Bathroom Girl.
And the horror isn’t confined to my office. I was at a restaurant once and was stoked to see the private bathroom. It was a nice place so I knew they would have candles and sprays and all sorts of smell cover-uppers. I waited patiently, relieved, when the door opens and out comes a guy … holding … a … newspaper. Oh God, no. There is no way in hell I am going in there now. This is not your home, guy! Jeez.
Another favorite is the private public restroom with no spray. You have been holding your pee in for three beers and it’s way past due. You are standing outside the door, it opens, a patron comes out, and sure enough, she has made a deposit at the porcelain bank. Screw it though, you have to pee. So, you rush in, hold your nose, pee, and then bust out the door again right in time to see the next customer—a really cute guy or girl or a friend or your boyfriend’s mom. You want to scream—it wasn’t me!—but somehow that seems even more juvenile. We all poop, don’t we?
I worry about this every single day. I try to wait for odd times during the day—when people are in meetings, when everyone is at lunch. I have secured other locations within a few block radius where anonymity is secured for the days that I just don’t feel like dealing. But I am tired of fretting about it. WE ALL DO IT, for God’s sake. Why can’t we be more like guys? They shit and fart and don’t hold back on any noises from any orifice. Sure it’s crass, but it’s honest and refreshing.
But no, this will go on for all time. It never ends. I find solace in knowing that at least I am not one of those people who won’t go anywhere but at home and hold it until there is possible irreversible damage to the colon.
Umm … I just realized that once all my coworkers read this, I will be bathroom-girl. Oh well, I am okay with being the butt of the joke.