Recently, I found myself involved, albeit silently, in a very odd bathroom situation, and it occurred to me that there are apparently some women out there who are unaware of the rules. So, I am here to offer some friendly advice. If there is a woman in the stall next to you waiting quietly for you to leave, then that is exactly what you should do. Leave her alone in peace. One day, it will be you in there, begging with tacit hand gestures and desperate foot stomps for someone else to do the same. It is all about karma.
Laurie Notaro is a hilarious columnist who now has several books out. In her first (and one of my favorites) book, The Idiot Girl’s Action Adventure Club, she writes an article about the different bathroom behaviors of women, pegging those who, like me, need a little privacy to do a number two, as Waiters. The nemesis of the Waiter is the Primper, known by the loud ‘thunk’ of her monstrous purse on the bathroom counter. Notaro hits every nail on the head, and the result is an essay that is absolutely hilarious. However, her attempt to educate the rest of the world of proper ladies-room conduct has apparently been unsuccessful. Case in point, last Friday night.
Every year about forty of Mike’s closest friends get together for a huge, Italian, family-style dinner at a downtown restaurant before attending the Denver premier of Warren Miller’s newest ski movie. Warren Miller creates a new movie each year highlighting the world’s top skiers and slope tricksters, and each year, we fork out almost $30 per person (not counting beers) to go see it. I secretly think the movie is just the same as the prior year’s movie except with new opening credit scenes each time, but I never say this out loud because Mike looks forward to it so much. Either way, the intent of the film is to get everyone geared up for the coming ski season, and it has become the unofficial kickoff to the holidays for Mike and I and many others, too. Fun is typically had by all, and this year was no different, with the exception of the bitches in the bathroom.
Mike and I were a little late to dinner. This is the norm because I have a hard time getting his sorry ass in gear whenever we have to be anywhere; I think he secretly likes to be late. I do not, and so it is a constant battle with us.
We sat down at the table after saying our hellos to the group. In the past, the table had always been crowded with all of Mike’s college friends and their significant others, people he had known for years and with whom I had, by default, become friends, too. This year was a little different. Todd was there, of course, and Matt, and Nicole, all sitting way at the other end of the table, and Denver, (his actual name is Denver, and I think he moved here specifically to ignite the irony of it all) and that is about it. The rest of the huge group of people at the table were basically unknown to both of us, and because we were late, we ended up sitting with a bunch of strangers.
As is his way, Mike dove right in and began making friends with everyone he didn’t know. I did my best with the very-nice couple seated next to us, but that is about as far as I took it because, quite simply, I am not as friendly as Mike is, and I have a severe aversion to small talk. Still though, I was at least trying. Across from us, there were four girls sitting together. They were nice enough, and cute, and younger than most of the early-thirties crowd at the table. I never really got the chance to talk to them during dinner, but we exchanged smiles while passing the colossal plates of pasta back and forth.
Somewhere around dessert, it hit me. I had to go to the bathroom, and it needed to happen right then, and there was some pretty harsh, acute intestinal trauma involved.
I absolutely hate doing a number two in public. I have driven home from the mall, and from Target, and from friends’ houses with my insides in knots, just to avoid the horror of doing what I consider to be world’s most private deed in public. My friend at the office and I have even coined it a “Number 9” referring to the un-leased floor in our old building where it could be done confidentially. Consequently, we have openly lamented the fact that there is no suitable 9th floor-like replacement bathroom in our new building, although the Number 9 moniker stuck . Basically, I’m like that guy from the American Pie movies they call Shitbreak. I hate doing it in public, and I avoid it at all costs, but sometimes it cannot be prevented.
I sat at the table very aware of my dire situation. I stared at my empty plate, which was most certainly the culprit, and pondered my options. There was no way I could make it home between now and the start of the movie, plus, Mike, who has been trying to cure me of this psychological bathroom glitch, definitely wouldn’t have allowed it. I decided that the best thing to do would be to go while we were at the restaurant, rather than making an uncomfortable ten-block walk to the Paramount Theater where the bathrooms would certainly be filthy and teeming with ski bunnies. I excused myself.
Once in the restroom, I locked myself into the nearest available stall, the one in the middle, and I sat down and began my waiting game. The occupant of the stall to my right flushed, washed, and left. Good girl. I continued to wait as the woman to my left started to button and tuck. She flushed, opened the door, walked toward the sink, and… CRAP!!!!! (no, not literally, but figuratively)…her friend walked in and they began chatting. This is when I realized that these were two of the girls who had been sitting across from us at the table. I assumed they were unaware of my presence as they continued their conversation.
“What time does the movie start?”
“I don’t know, but we better get the bill and head out pretty soon"
“That one guy is pretty cute, huh?”
Then more silence.
Although I was hidden by the steel door, I wasn’t in a sound-proof booth, and I was only sitting approximately four feet from them as the crow flies; their whispers were coming in clear as a bell.
“That girl from our table is just sitting in there,” the first girl stage whispered, and I’ll assume pointed accusingly at my stall door.
“That really tall girl in the white sweater”
“What is she doing in there?”
First of all, my sweater was ivory, not white. Second of all, I was really glad they said tall instead of fat, or ugly, or snotty or something. Third of all, I CAN FRIGGIN HEAR YOU!!! I wanted to say it out loud. I wanted to say, “Do you think I’m in here waiting for my health? NO! I am waiting for you bitches to leave so I can tend to my very-important stomach business!!!”
But, alas, I am not that brave. Instead, I coughed. Twice. Then I waited for the first chick to leave and the second one to pee (surely staring at my shoes for identification purposes the whole time) and leave. Then, I was alone. And of course, at this point, I couldn’t even do anything. Those pretty, skinny, young girls with their conniving bathroom sneak attack had constipated me. I would spend the rest of the evening in horrible discomfort, thinking of about fifty different smart-ass retorts I could have spewed from my throne in the stall to shut those bitches up. Had they never shat in public before? Were they just so perfect that theirs really didn’t stink? Did they have no souls!!?!??!
Back at the table, I tried to quietly explain to Mike what had just happened, while simultaneously avoiding the blatant stares of the bathroom princesses who were now huddled together with their two friends in a gossiping hive of blonde ponytails and Prada bags.
“Honey, why can’t you just go like normal people?” Mike asked pleadingly
He really didn’t get it, and it suddenly occurred to me that my very own boyfriend might be just like the disgusting guy at my work who tucks a copy of the Wall Street Journal under his arm and strolls into the men’s room to perform his Number 9 Symphony with no shame whatsoever. It’s just so sad.
Seriously, I don’t know why I have such an issue with what is most certainly a natural bodily function. I don’t know why I have to hide it from the world, but I do, and I know I am not alone. I have my friend from work, and Laurie Notaro, and (I know for a fact) my sister, as allies. Aren’t there any others out there? We need to band together and get the word out before we all do irreparable damage to our colons, not to mention our pride. If there is someone waiting, leave her the hell alone. Tell all your friends; because I now have proof that there are some women in the world who do not know this very basic rule. It is all up to us now.