This could get messy. I mean it. I would like to warn you now that things in this post may not be pretty and in fact, may be downright vulgar.
Ok, now that we’ve got rid of the prudes and the prisses, I’d like, if I may (oh, I may? Thank you), to discuss a topic that I have had on hold for some time.
I was reminded of it on my recently Freshly Pressed article (that’s right, I’ve been Freshly Pressed and I’m therefore kind of a someone), “It’s Good To Talk. Or Is It”, a post that discusses situations where talking is less than welcome. Some of you commented that I had missed out the lavatory. I hadn’t, I just felt it was such a weighty subject that it needed to be given its own full, glorious post. And here it is…
*Drum roll * Ladles and jelly spoons, I give you the Pretty Feet, Pop Toe print-out-and-keep guide to lavatorial etiquette!
Unless you have the nethers of a Ken doll or tote this season’s latest colostomy bag, you will need to use the loo/can/bog/littlest room (delete as applicable, I’ve got plenty more). It’s not rude, it’s biology and happens to all living people (exceptions noted above). While our inner pipes may all function the same way, our minds and manners do not and I feel it high time certain delicate issues were brought to the fore regarding the use and abuse of public conveniences.
Let’s get this out the way right off the bat. We all know there are rules when it comes to inane chatter and they apply here too. Using the water closet (W.C. to its friends) should be a chance for peaceful reflection and quiet meditation (or reading for some – no judgement but please don’t feel you have to inform me that this particular blog is your preferred reading material. You know who you are) yet some people just can’t grasp that this is the thunder box, not the chatter box!
I have a bladder that is rather shy. That doesn’t mean it’s rubbish at talking to boys and stays in playing Zelda all weekend, it means that no matter how close I am to wetting myself, if you utter so much as one syllable in my vicinity, I will simply be unable to perform. I could be faced with Niagara Falls and still not a drop. It’s nature’s cruelest trick (apart from facial hair on an attractive woman).
Some of you may be wondering how these babbling torturers know of my presence when secreted in the lav. I will tell you. Shoe Recognition Techniques. There are freaks out there who have learnt to recognise another person from the sound their shoes make on porcelain tiled flooring. If you think that’s avoidable (tip-toeing, taping cushions to your feet, hang gliding to the bathroom) you’re wrong. These lavatorial Sherlocks, when bested in the audio round, will think nothing of stooping for a visual. They will kneel down on that oh-so-sanitary flooring and shove their head under the partition to get full shoe-eye contact. It’s scary, it’s perverted, it’s true.
Apparently whatever they have to say simply will not wait until my peachy cheeks have left the bowl. They may be waiting some time…
This is an unfortunate quirk in biology but we all seem to eat and drink roughly the same amount and at roughly the same time. This can result in a synchronised bladder with what we shall call a “Pee Pal”. Sounds friendly and harmless enough – it’s not. You notice this phenomenon just as you reach the door leading to the lavvy at the same time as your workmate. The same workmate. Every. Time.
Awkward the first time, traumatic the second and totally unacceptable the third. One of you has to be the stronger person and pretend you actually got up to make tea. Why are they the stronger person? Because they have to go, with full bladder, to stand in front of a running tap and boil water! The alternative is far worse though so a slightly damp gusset is a small price to pay to break this cycle of uncomfortable encounters.
If this should happen in a place without tea making facilities, such as a restaurant, quickly make use of the hand washing facilities instead, regaling your Pee Pal with an elaborate excuse regarding mystery sticky substances. Insert nervous laugh aaaaaaand leave.
On entering a large, luxuriant public rest facility, one has the decadence of being able to roam through a rabbit warren of stalls, selecting one that has treasures such as a working door, a lock, a seat, paper and just as importantly, no neighbour on either side. When there are just three traps, as I have in my office, you’re left with a personality test style choice (also applies to urinals).
When faced with an empty set of three loos:
Personality type A will go for trap 1 because it’s furthest from the door and has only one adjoining trap. Minimal risk of contact while in a vulnerable state of pants-down.
Personality type B will go for trap 3 because even though it’s nearer the door, it is less frequently used so is cleaner and again, only one neighbouring trap. Minimal risk of contact while in a vulnerable state of pants-down.
WRONG C will choose trap 2, (even if, for example, trap 1 is occupied and 3 is free) because they buy into the “love thy neighbour” thing waaaaay too much and cherish the thought of having a support group of their pee-ers (see what I did there) on all sides. Maximum risk that you will then have to sit next to them as they have left you with no other choice and you can bet your knicker elastic they will want to talk to you, thus enhancing your suffering experience.
Type A and B will happily co-exist because they will NEVER willingly perform their ablutions within 2 inches of each other. Type C needs to learn some personal boundaries and is probably the same person who walks around the changing room at the gym completely naked for about half an hour before getting dressed, starting with their watch.
I’m sorry wheelchair users, I have some disturbing news for you. Your specially designed, graciously spacious des res of dignity has been given a new moniker; The Poo Loo. It’s a little haven of privacy with no neighbours to speak of and I think some of the boys really appreciate the grab bars you’ve had installed along with the extra leg room.
Note to non-disableds. When using The Poo Loo, you will need exceptionally good hearing to check if the coast is clear before emerging from the scene of the crime. If you have fully functioning limbs, we know exactly what you’ve been up to. Those of you who nipped in to sleep off a hangover, take the shame and know that next time, you should just have crawled under your desk.
Sorry to be so matter of fact but this is a serious debate and there’s little point mincing one’s words. If you are caught with a desperate urge to curl one out, if the Poo Loo is unavailable, if you can’t put off laying your cable until you return to your own private porcelain throne, at least be discreet when blasting the pan of one of the public cans.
No-one needs to hear how audibly strenuous your “job” is. No-one needs to hear your impression of a spitfire plane, no matter how impressively life-like it is. No-one needs to have their nasal passages assaulted by whatever it was you ate last night (dog vomit and medical waste by the smell of it) so please, bide your time until all the stalls are clear of civilians, even if you have to sit there until you buttocks are blue with cold, and try to be as quick as possible when the coast is clear. Form an air-tight seal between your cheeks and the seat and for the love of god, FLUSH FAST, GODDAM IT, FLUSH FAST! One last thing – after you have dropped your offspring at the metaphorical pool, I beg of you, if you’ve left skid marks the length of the M6 Motorway, that little stick with spiky bristly things? Not an upside down microphone.
For those who find themselves in the vicinity of an occupied stall and notice that it has been as quiet as a pillow-clad shoe for some time. Leave. The. Scene. You can comb your beard another time and that conversation you’re having with your Bathroom Buddy about Bernard in Sales getting caught humping the photocopier at the office party? Take it outside. You’ve done your business, now let Poopy McPlop do theirs.
There is an awful situation that I would beg you to avoid at all costs. Two of you are locked in a bitter game of Number Two Chicken (not something you order from the local Chinese take-away, trust me). Both adversaries are settled into their respective latrines, both deathly silent save for the pre-emptive rattle of the loo roll dispenser and an occasional nervous cough, both waiting for the other to give up and leave first before opening the bomb bay doors. This is a formidable battle of determination and can go on for hours at a time. The only thing that will resolve this is if another party enters the arena and flushes their loo, giving the two dumpers just enough sound cover to fire off a quick round. The tension is insurmountable as are the resulting piles.
Noah’s Ark Syndrome
This applies mostly to ladies. I am a lady and I still find it odd behaviour. When announcing that you are excusing yourself to relieve nature’s call, another girl will
offer to insist on coming with you. Conversely, if she feels the need to be relieved of certain bodily effluence, she wants you to go with her, regardless of whether you needed to go or not. What for?! The sign clearly tells you where the bathroom is so you can’t need me to direct you. I’m pretty sure both of us were taught from an early age how to pull our undercrackers up and I’m sure as Hell not going to do the wiping honours, if that’s what you have trouble with! The mind boggles.
Some girls will take this a step further. They want you, and I’m not making this up, not to go into your own cubical, they want you to squeeze into theirs with them!!! They want you to stare them right in the eye, standing no more than mere inches from their half-naked, fluid releasing body while they attempt to hold a conversation. (Just pray it is fluid they’re releasing. You can’t be too sure with these Type C people.) The final blow? They want you to take your turn in the spotlight afterwards!
Ladies. I’m all for sisterhood but seriously, using the toilet is NOT a team sport and I don’t need my very own micturition cheerleader.
This Noah’s Ark two-by-two “thing” isn’t just distressing for those of us who like to “go” alone, it also causes a huge queue as countless ladies form a squirming line of crossed legs, like incontinent Rockettes, waiting for the gossiping/drug taking/lesbian love action (I have no idea what you’re really getting up to in there so I’m going to paint it my way) to finish so they can relieve their rears. In this case ladies, one is the magic number.
There you have it. I could set out more rules and regulations but then I would be accused of being anal (again, see what I did? I know, you’re wondering how the Hell I got Freshly Pressed with gags like that. Did I mention I’ve been Freshly Pressed?).
Tell all your co-workers and friends, stick this guide on the door of the toilets, shout it in the streets (ok, maybe not the streets, I don’t want you calling me for bail money). Let us take back the glory of the powder room and unite in the fight against poor lavatorial etiquette. Now, where did I put my pillow-shoes…