In lieu of some unnerving experiences I’ve had in public bathrooms as of late, I’ve decided it’s time for a course on what and what not to do when you’re in a restroom with other people. We’ll call it Public Bathroom Etiquette 101.
Rule 1: If you walk into the bathroom at the same time as someone you know, do not, under any circumstances, engage them in conversation while the two of you are in different stalls doing your thing. The only exception to this rule is fear of imminent death or being sucked into the toilet. It’s incredibly awkward. And demoralizing. And weird.
Rule 2: Do not look at the person’s shoes to your right and tell them you think they’re cute. This is because they’ll inevitably have to say thank you, and thus disclose who they are. And this is unsettling. I do not want to reveal myself. I want to remain anonymous. Granted, I do usually wear some pretty hot kicks, but please do not tell me you like them. Do not ask me where I bought them when I am tinkling. Please do not make me give up my anonymity.
Rule 3: If you walk into a bathroom, and there are enough empty stalls to have a decent pick of the litter, do not choose a stall right next to someone when you could otherwise give you and your friendly neighbor some privacy. I always feel angry when someone cozies up next to me when they could have given me some breathing room. This is when I begin to feel claustrophobic and want get out of there, even if I’m not even done. And that just puts me in a bad mood.
Rule 4: If you and your fellow bathroom citizen are both nearing completion, the rule of thumb should be that whoever was in the bathroom first should get to leave first. Don’t flush as soon as they do, because then that freaking means that you’ll have to unveil your secret identity, (that is, if they haven’t already figured out who you are because your kick-ass shoes have already given you away) and you don’t want your identity revealed because then that means some really awkward conversation will ensue while washing your hands. Now, keep in mind you could be best friends on the outside, but in the loo, you are like awkward strangers that got drunk at a party and made-out. You feel obligated to speak, but in reality wish you could go back and erase time. So be kind. Don’t show your face till someone leaves, then go out and wash your hands, and hope the person behind you has the same respect and waits for you to leave. And this brings me on to my next rule.
Rule 5: If you’ve already washed your hands, just leave. Don’t sit in front of the mirror and pop your zits or check out how big your butt looks in the mirror. Do your bathroom mate a favor and leave, because there is a 73% chance they are holding their biz-nass in until you leave, and sometimes waiting just builds unnecessary anger and pressure, and really, no one wants that.
I realize these rules are very different for guys, because their bathrooms are different and scary and weird. After consulting my husband, he told me that the only significant rule that truly applied to the men was number 3. So I’ll re-state that one: guys, if you are straight, and want people to continue to think you are, do not choose a urinal next to someone if you could pick another. Because even if you have a girlfriend, or are an uber manly man who wears lumberjack shirts and gets muddy playing football, no one will ever believe you are hetero again - even if you have so much testosterone you require thrice a day shaves.
And don’t look over, either. That’s creepy.
Okay, well, I think this concludes this painful but necessary instructional. I really, really hope I don’t have to do another post on bathroom etiquette. But after someone told me they liked my shoes, I decided enough was enough. Here, as in life, the golden rule applies:
Do unto others as you would have done unto you. In the bathroom.