Conversation over urination

Kristine Gill

You’re walking into the bathroom between classes. You really have to go and you’re on a time schedule. You have 10 minutes to take care of business and get moving if you want to make it to your philosophy class across campus. The moment you push the swinging door in, you realize things won’t go according to plan.

On the other side of that swinging door, one of your professors, acquaintances, close friends, is washing his hands, fixing her hair, choosing a stall. Some sort of exchange is about to take place, but because you find yourself in a bathroom, it’s going to be a different kind of awkward exchange. How are you supposed to greet someone in the bathroom?

“What brings you here?” “Boy, do I have to pee, or what?” “Which stall are you going with today?”

To which your acquaintance responds, “Stall three.” And while you’re trying to figure out which end of the bathroom your friend started counting from, you realize you’re going to have to listen to your friend take a whiz. Gross. There are people I don’t like to hear eat, let alone excrete waste.

You don’t have to strike up a bathroom conversation every time you see someone there. You can smile and say “hi” and eavesdrop on the sounds coming from stall three. Then, emerge from your stall at the same moment as your friend to nervously wash your hands beside each other and try to forget what you just heard. That’s your other option. Have fun with it.

I think people chitchat in the baño for three reasons: (1) They don’t realize they’re in a bathroom; (2) they feel awkward seeing you in the bathroom and are trying to diffuse the situation by making small talk; or (3) for some reason, they see no problem with talking about normal things in a public place of defecation. Ew, right?

I realize I’ve developed a bathroom paranoia in this sense. I know not everyone gets angry or tense when someone asks how their day went over casual hand washing. I’m guilty of it, too, but I know – I know – I’m not alone when I say it is completely unacceptable to hold a conversation once each party has entered a stall and commenced typical bathroom behavior.

You know what I’m talking about. I don’t want to hear about how much homework Stacey has with sounds of her unzipping her pants in the background. But I can’t be rude. How much worse would it be to tell Stacey that stall conversation makes me uncomfortable? Sure, it would shut her up, but I’d have to listen to her finish her business in heavy silence anyway.

I once overheard a girl telling her friend the intimate details of her recent breakup via cell phone. I was appalled. Her poor friend! I hate talking to someone and suddenly hearing a toilet flush. It’s the ultimate form of betrayal. I would rather find out my sister was banging my boyfriend or my dog had taken a steamy dump on my pillow. I’m serious.

Have I just cursed myself for all future bathroom visits? Probably. Now people I encounter on the way to the porcelain throne are going to second-guess themselves when they address me. I’m sorry for that. Just know that my intentions are pure. If you want to talk about the weather or ask me something important, feel free. But when my stall door shuts, your mouth should, too.

Kristine Gill is a newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].