The moment has come! I have finally figured out how to make millions. I will write a guide-book so classic that everyone will wonder what we did without it. The trend of society becoming more casual, rude, and impersonal is a common one. Many of you are aware of Emily Post; for the rest, she was the quintessential Miss Manners guide provider for all occasions. Her family members are continuing her legacy with new guidelines for modern situations, to include the realm of technology, emails and cell phone usage. I have become very aware of a new realm that the majority for which society CLEARLY needs guidance: the public no longer gives a pee-diddly-squat about public restroom etiquette. (For that matter, please squat prior to peeing and wipe up any diddlies. Thank you.) I am destined to write the very needed Guide to Public Restroom Etiquette. Don’t roll your eyes…you know this is needed. Just look at what a classic “Everyone Poops” is- someone made millions off of stating the obvious.
Yes, I will be the Emily Post of the public pooper. In fairness, I should probably give some credit and a small monetary percentage to the woman who inspired me today. The introduction will tell our story; the story of a girl who maneuvered her son-filled stroller into the stall of a hospital restroom and proceeded to hear a conversation from the next stall over, which was had on a CELL PHONE during the ‘passing process’ about her recent ‘cleansing’ and the detailed description of each day’s output. Apparently over 60% of Americans have continued a cell-phone conversation while using a public restroom; most do not mute for flushing. I’ve felt awkward flushing and interrupting conversations in the next stall (although I should feel no guilt and know of others who would have faked total stomach failure for the sake of humor). There is a broad, sweeping rule for that the Throne is not the place for a sit-down-conversation, but there are many societal issues that need guidance.
Potential chapter ideas:
Youth Issues: Handling Children’s Faux-pas
What to do when your child loudly comments on the smell or the sound of a neighbor’s flatulence? How does one muffle laughter when a stranger’s child exclaims commentary such as, “That was the loudest fart I’ve ever heard!” about your stall-neighbor? This would include mention of a Facebook advisory I recently laughed at, warning fathers accompanying their sons into public restrooms not to make fun of loud pooping noises or to name their sons “Prince Poops-a-lot” as they may soon hear their son exclaim, “That’s not me pooping, Daddy!” and be forced to come face to face with a new ‘heir to the throne’.
Appropriate Sharing and Equipment Issues:
The ‘Spare a Square’ Dilemma: When venturing a plea to a kind-hearted stall-neighbor, how should one ask? How many squares are appropriate? Guidance: It is appropriate to leave the abundance for the next victim- I mean visitor- to prevent repeated square-sparing requests. It is considered rude, although resourceful, to shove it into a bag and use it for a child’s mummy Halloween costume.
Broken latches: When is it appropriate to ask a stranger to hold the door? If not, do you opt for the hand-out or leg-up method?
Breaking and Entering: A guideline for appropriate pre-entry stall checks, appropriate exclamations when discovering unexpected squatters, making apologies, and handling awkwardness if another stall isn’t available before your victim emerges.
International/Cultural Relations: American thrones vs. Squatty Potties:
When one has traveled or lived overseas, cultural differences quickly become evident. In the absence of in-ground ‘squatties’, many foreigners climb on top of the commode and use it thus. Unfortunately, this frequently leaves a major tinkle sprinkle for the next person. Guidance: always do a double feet check. Just because you don’t see feet doesn’t mean it is not occupied. (One college semester it took my roommate and I months to figure out why one bathroom’s 5 stalls were constantly sprinkle-soaked and why the porcelain had weight cracks. Within two years I lived in Korea and she lived in China; overseas education complete.)
Gender issues– Female “Herding” vs. Male “Lone Wolfing”:
Women travel in packs because 1) wardrobes used to necessitate help to disrobe and use the restroom 2) Many women are juggling kids and performing Olympic gymnastic routines to hold babies/contain children, protect purses, and use the restroom simultaneously.
While a young boy may be very comfortable with ladies having conversations in the restroom, it is essential that he be taught that men do NOT converse with strangers in a public restroom. Men do NOT emerge from the restroom with a new friend, often because their visits usually do not include children or issues that stem from doors, toilet paper, or lines.
*This also includes bathroom design issues: men clearly design most public restrooms. The evidence is the lack of diaper changing stations or the positioning of the station directly in front of a door or sink, ensuring that the mother is hit or in the way. (This also goes for stall width: I smacked my belly into a wall today during an in-stall turn. Please, plan for frequent visits from us Pregopotamuses; 5 point turns shouldn’t be needed.)
Covering Your Backside:
It’s always important to do a mirror check before exiting the restroom, but helping out a stranger is equally vital. The classic issues of toilet paper stuck to a shoe or a skirt tucked into undees are classics because they actually happen. Please gentlemen…check your fly. Twice. It’s awkward to be on a date sitting across from a wide open barn door knowing that as a man NO ONE will tell you. You poor guy. On that note, women aren’t so glamorous when it comes to wardrobe malfunctions. In real life, wardrobe malfunctions end up more like Superbowl fiascoes than iconic representations.
Okay…maybe I won’t be the author of a best-seller. Elmo’s Potty Time, Who Pooped?, and Everybody Poops seem to have the market cornered. Still, there is a market for ‘war stories’ and the public restroom is a place that has seen unspeakable things. Just look at those poor restroom outlets.
In the meantime, safe sprinkling Dear Friends. Courtesy flush, be neat and wipe the seat, and please don’t conference call while you’re doing your business.