THE HELL OF PUBLIC RESTROOMS

When I was in first grade, we had a small bathroom next to the closet.  It was nothing fancy, just a sink and a toilet, but it got the job done.  A reversible sign on the door  had a red STOP and a green GO to let you know whether or not someone was inside.  Of course, our high society humor would call for switching the sign to GO while someone was inside, and let the hilarity ensue.  One day, the teacher tapped me on the shoulder and started yelling at me for peeing on the toilet seat and floor.  I hadn't even used the bathroom yet that day, so the sloppy pisser had to have been someone else.  But arguing with her was next to impossible, so I had to spend my entire recess wiping the floor with bits of toilet paper, while the other kids teased me.

Needless to say, I've had a thing about public restrooms ever since.  I'm not one of those guys like that character in AMERICAN PIE who had to hold it until he went home, but I've certainly had my share of bathroom hang-ups.  For the most part, urinating in school bathrooms was a pretty quick and uneventful experience. You could walk up to the urinal of choice, unzip just a bit, and go on about your business with minimal interaction.  But sometimes, things didn't go so easily. 


 

For you uninitiated women that never got to venture inside a boy's bathroom, you haven't experienced the wonder of a wall of urinals.  Sometimes as many as eight or more in a row against the wall would hang there,  just waiting to receive their piss offerings.  Choosing the right urinal said a lot about you.  In fact there were rhymes we used to help us figure out exactly which one we wanted to pee in.  One of the most common would have you start naming them off from the left, "COFFEE, TEA, MILKSHAKE, PEE" in a sort of piss-scented "EENIE, MEANIE, MINIE, MOE".  Supposedly whatever urinal you chose was what you liked to drink.  Lord help the poor kid with a full bladder that didn't check in advance and haphazardly chose the "PEE" urinal.  "Ha! Ha! YOU LIKE DRINKING PEEEEEEEEEEEE!", was a tough insult to live down.  Most of the kids "in the know" would choose milkshake or coffee, if they had their druthers.

Another variation on the theme was to count off, "KING, QUEEN, BOOGER, MACHINE!"  This was particularly handy if you accidentally chose the "PEE" urinal from the first rhyme, and could correct your taunting party, "No no...I'm using MACHINE!"  For obvious reasons, the "BOOGER" and "QUEEN" urinals were the ones to avoid, but as some of the more sexually aware 5th and 6th graders would point out, if you chose "QUEEN" it was like you were putting your dick inside of a hot babe!

The real trauma of school bathrooms was when you had to take a shit. Y ou might as well have shit your pants in class for all the grief you'd get if someone walked in on you.  Now, I've sneaked into many a girls bathroom in my day (OK...last month) and I've never understood why the stalls in the girls' rooms had doors on them, but for some reason they were removed from the boys'. What evil activities did the administration think were taking place in them?

Once in 2nd grade, I made the mistake of taking a shit in a stall that not only had no door, but no toilet paper either.  I was stranded there for about 15 minutes before I convinced some poor kid to grab me some from another stall.  When you need to do the famous "squat walk" at home to grab a new roll, it's OK, but nobody would ever dare getting caught performing it in public.   He held his nose for dramatic effect, and practically threw it at me, as if I was some homeless man asking him to wipe my ass.

When I was in 3rd grade, bathrooms may have been horrifying to use, but they were actually cool to hang out in.  I mean if they were good enough for Fonzie to use as his office, it was OK for us kids, right?  Every once in a while, some kids would take part in the bizarre ritual called "CRISS CROSS PEE" or "CROSSING SWORDS". While Star Wars was popular, you'd even have weirdos pretending to be Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader with their lightsabre urine streams. There was even a spell where some kids would try to pee on your shoe.  Suddenly peeing in the stalls instead of the urinals seemed like a much safer idea.

There were any number of pranks to pull off in the bathrooms, and nearly all of them involved using wet paper towels.  You could wad up a stack, get them wet, then throw them to the tiled floor and make a pretty large smack.  Sinks were pretty easy to clog up and overflow with them as well, which surely prompted the invention of faucets that turn themselves off.  Of course the greatest bathroom thrill as a boy was to pee on the "OUT OF ORDER DO NOT USE" sign that was occasionally taped on a urinal.  

One school I went to in Norfolk, Virginia had retarded kids schooled in the same building as us.  They had their own special classes, but ate lunch in the same cafeteria, and of course used the same bathroom.  These unfortuntae kids were always getting made fun of in some kind of way.  I remember going into the bathroom and seeing this little bully tell a retarded kid about twice his size to hold out his hand so he could smack it.  The poor guy was letting him do it over and over again while he cried.  I helped a nice guy out when I came upon him in tears, holding the large carved wooden key that they used for a bathroom pass, cracked in half.  I told him that the break was pretty clean and if he just laid it down fit together on the teacher's desk when he got back to class, someone else might think they broke it.  When I ran into the guy later in the week, he thanked me as if I gave him the secret of life. 

As I got older and more self conscious in High School, my big fear was pissing next to people.  I'd really have to relax and meditate for a good minute before I could let it out.  But it took perfect concentration.  I had several times where I'd be ready to pee, and someone would come up next to me, preventing me from finishing.  I'd stand there and pretend to pee for about a minute, and then flush it really quick, so nobody would think I was a psycho who just liked to stand there.  Since I drink more heavily as an adult, I've not found it to be much of a problem anymore.  Though every now and then, even at work, some guy walks in the bathroom with me, and chooses to pee in a stall behind a closed door. 

Using bathrooms at the workplace is an entirely different phenomenon.  Where I work, it's actually pretty well accepted to bring reading material into the john. Everything from The Sports Page of the newspaper, to interesting stories printed off the internet are handily tucked above the toilet paper rack for folks to read.  Some people are pretty uptight about it being unsanitary, but it never bothered me. In fact, unless I've actually got a hunk of crap on my finger, I never even wash my hands, unless someone else sees me in there, to keep up appearances. You don't want to be known as "that guy who doesn't wash" when it's time for company potlucks.

The big terror of workplace bathrooms is being identified as the guy who took a monster size noisy smelly shit. If your shoes look anonymous enough under the stall, and nobody saw you walk in, you're usually safe.  But lord help you if someone sees you walk out after gassing up the place with a deathly fecal fog.

It really bugs me when people talk to me while I'm sitting on the toilet. I don't know why but it really creeps the hell out of me.  Not too long ago, I was taking a shit, and didn't realize there was a guy sitting in the next stall over.  He shouted, "Hey man, I'm right here with ya!"  This was kind of freaky, as I didn't recognize the voice, and was truly weirded out by his attempt at bathroom camaraderie. I remained silent, and slightly scared as he added, "Yep...it's a helluva day!".  Not knowing what to even say, I remained quiet as he went on and on about other nonsensical things, until I finally figured out that the dude was actually talking on his cell phone why he was taking a dump!

I mean, it's bad enough seeing people walking around stores and driving with cell phones, but who the hell calls up their friends while they're taking a shit, at work?  At this point, the evil side of me emerged, and I groaned loudly like I just passed an elephant through my sphincter and flushed the toilet 3 times in a row, just to make sure that whoever this guy was talking to, would realize where the call was really coming from.

And then there's the utter pandemonium of the men's room at a big concert or sporting event, where you've got the new pitfall of puke covered toilets to avoid.  In addition, brave women, sickened by the impossibly long and slow lines in their bathroom are in there with you!  And forget about washing your hands in those sinks, there's about as much piss in those as the urinals. 


Of course, once you're married and have kids, any shred of bathroom decency goes out the door.  In fact, it's as if there's no door at all.  You know you've got the right woman when she can walk in and brush her teeth while you're taking a crap, and not blink an eye.

Anyway, quit talking to me, I'm trying to pee.

-Robert Berry
rberry@retrocrush.com

 

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