The Secret of the Centre Stall

 …..Let us poop in peace please….

Sometimes keeping up with the neurosis of being a woman is just too much.  I have enough on my plate without feeling the familiar rise of anxiety and insecurity when using the ladies room. ladies As a mother of a little girl, I am doing my best to curb these shared experiences of irrational modesties and needless embarrassments.  The problem is not only that we put these pressures upon ourselves. It is that we also refuse to sympathize with those suffering. It could be argued that this internal commotion is socially constructed or deeply rooted in old fashion upbringings. Regardless it is a well known, shared and understood and we do nothing to change it.

…..stupid hang-ups that denied my generation…..

When I look back to my adolescence, at a time when I was innocent and as flawless as I was ever going to be, I am infuriated with locker room behaviors and decisions.  None of us girls sneered or snickered at one another. We were all too busy covering up and facing the wall when changing our clothes. Making eye contact let alone speaking to one another was out of the question. It is only decades later that I realize that

…this was a collective panic and fear of criticisms and judgement.

I hope my daughter’s generation is stronger, smarter and are able to reject such stupid hang-ups that denied my generation the courage to shower after grade nine gym.  Think about it.  All 25 of us refused basic hygiene as a way to avoid full nudity in a locker room full of other girls with the exact same anxieties.  How bloody ridiculous is our gender?

  Meanwhile, the boys are floundering around buck naked engaging in horseplay and literal sword fights on the other side of the cinder block wall.  Can I get a what the hell?  Unfortunately, this asinine dichotomy follows us out of high school and right into adulthood.
Where I work, there are three stalls in the women’s wash room.  If one uses the guy code of urinal selection, no one should ever use the facilities in the middle.  Who wants neighbors? Given that theory, the stall in the center should always have bathroom tissue and be the cleanest. I can only assume this folklore to be true for I never use door number two.  But if women are neurotic about their nudity than natural bodily functions catapults that same anxiety into a realm of incomparable insanity.
  It irritates me to no end when I slip into the soundless rest room to only find a closed stall door whose occupant is obviously trying to go unnoticed.  Seriously, I mean they don’t move.  Except for their feet, the wad of clothing bunched up on their shoes and (on occasion) the not so pleasant odor that one would (sorry should) expect in a bathroom, the person in the stall is absolutely still and quiet.

Only a woman could stop in mid-movement to prevent being embarrassed…

by her own bodily sounds, smells…function.  Like I don’t know what she is doing in there.  What’s more, I don’t care.  Why do we do this?  Unfortunately, I am no better.  The food court, ten flights down, has a full public wash room; one with two long aisles of stalls. It is almost as if the first bank is designated ‘express’ and the second for, let’s say high maintenance. It is like a dream that’s only 10 stories, 2 escalators, and a half an underground block away.
   On those days that I happen to pop into the ladies room on my floor and there is a poor soul pretending the be invisible, mercifully I act as if she is.  stallOkay, that is not exactly true.  In fact, I usually respect her efforts to go unnoticed and do what I can to avert stage fright, up my PSI, wash my hands as quickly as possible and leave.  I do not do my hair, file my nails or apply lipstick.  What I don’t understand is why some women feel the need to chat or lounge around.  It is one thing to do that when you are in the wash room alone, I mean really alone.  It is another thing to stand around when you know there is someone sitting behind a closed stall. She is probably holding her breath waiting for you to get the hell out so that she can unburden herself.  Why do women torture one another like this?  I am not saying that it is rational for someone to be embarrassed while in a washroom, but we all know where that comes from.  Hell, who hasn’t heard that you should always wear clean underwear in case you get hit by a bus?
 …Is your underwear clean in case you get hit by a bus?
This was something a grandmother would say. Imagine how horrible it would be for the doctor or nurse to cut your blood soaked clothes from your mangled body to find dirty bloomers?  It did not matter that if you were actually hit by a bus that you would surely poop yourself anyway.  What matters is that you are always proper even at a time when being proper should be your last priority.

…comes down to building confidence, silencing judgement and prioritising our values.

  Point being, these warped insecurities, regardless where they stem from, will hopefully phase out eventually.  Until then, be kind, don’t linger.  Why would you want to be putting on makeup or brushing your teeth when someone only five feet away is doing what we all would like a little privacy doing?  Even my dog gives me that pleading ‘don’t look at me’ glance when I happen to catch his eye when he’s crouching.  Let us poop in peace, please.  We will address the irrational modesties and needless embarrassments by teaching our girls to be stronger and smarter.  It all comes down to building confidence, silencing judgment and prioritizing our values.