Girl vs. Public Restroom

It finally happened.

After years of refusing to sit on the toilet seat of public restrooms, my squatting finally went amiss, and I did it: I peed on myself. As I sit in the very café that this incident happened, tapping away this narrative on my keyboard, I sit with my right leg pressed tight against the cloth chair, hoping it will absorb my shame within the next ten minutes before I have to leave.

The travails of public restroom visits begins at a very young age. When our mothers stop accompanying us into bathrooms they leave us with one thing with which to fend for ourselves: dread about public restroom hygiene. From the scum ridden walls that we should never hang our bags from, to taps manipulated with elbows, and doors grasped with a wad of tissue in our hands, the public restroom is a house of horrors. We are also vigilant about the many entrances that our sex has endowed us with as invitations to diverse germs and bacteria. So coupling hypochondria, female shame, and an overactive imagination, I’ve successfully avoided toilet-seat contact for near two decades.

Many are the techniques females employ to avoid this dreaded contact. The mid-air sumo position is perhaps the most popular, followed by the meticulous layering of the toilet seat with tissues to act as a barrier, and even perching on top of the toilet seat frame. The last one I gathered from warning signs I’ve seen in bathrooms telling users to refrain from climbing up as it will break both the seat and one’s hips. There’s also some items that assist with peeing, such as the SheWee and the classic toilet seat covers found on aeroplanes. A friend of mine, who knew of my toilet anxieties, stashed about 30 of these seat covers to give to me as a birthday present. No longer will it just be crackers and cheese that I lift from my frequent travels.

I’m certainly not the only one though. This shame befell a dear friend of mine on a visit to the toilet in Toulouse. She, of elegant, porcelain skin, upturned nose with bright, emerald eyes – a picture of clean, classic white beauty – peed herself royally that night. At the bar, the toilets for women came as two separate small rooms situated side by side. We each stepped into one. When we came out, my friend was shaking and close to tears. My dear Western friend, confronted with the phenomenon of the squatting toilet, had tried her best to assume Nature’s original position. She had failed miserably and peed all over her legs and ankles. As she told me what happened, I couldn’t help but whisper gently: “I got the seated toilet.”

Call it karma, the inevitable or whatever you like. Five years hence, pee still drying on my own leg, I now stand(/sit/squat) in solidarity with my friend and all other women who have been conquered by the public restroom and have, inevitably, peed on themselves. #joinus


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