Here's recount of the most awkward bathroom moment of my life.
Long ago I made a rule for myself: using a public restroom can and will be avoided at all costs. The thought of someone listening to me go to the bathroom is weird. I’m not sure why and I don’t want to get into it until I’m 40 and undergoing deep psychoanalysis. For now, I’m fine with it.
When you enter a public restroom at the same time as another person, you make a contract with that human. You will listen to them go to the bathroom. That’s a part of your reality. Does nobody else think this is weird? Just me? Okay. Moving on.
Let me set the scene for you: senior year of college. Finals week. Desperation. Exhaustion. Hunger. On the verge of tears. Had to go.
Like, I really had to go. Avoiding a public restroom was not an option.
I went downstairs to the basement of the library because it’s usually quiet. It’s the safest bathroom on campus. Nobody is around to disturb me, and usually, all my bathroom anxieties instantly dissipate when I enter. I always know I’m safe because the lights are motion activated, so when I walk in I’m submerged in a safe blanket of darkness for a couple seconds.
Today was different.
I pushed the door open and smelled citrus in the air. The lights were already on. Something was wrong. As I headed for a stall I looked in the mirror and locked eyes with a gal I’d never seen before. She was standing over one of the trash cans, slowly and deliberately peeling an orange.
Peeling. an orange. in the bathroom.
I didn’t have time to process. By now the combination of my need to go and the intense bathroom anxiety had cumulated into a dire need but my organs clenched shut and I stood helplessly in the stall, defeated.
I could have just walked out and searched for a different bathroom, but the thought of another human watching me walk into a stall, stand there, and then march back out immediately was too uncomfortable for me to handle. I froze.
I miserably waited there for at least five minutes listening to the sound of this fucking gal peeling her orange in the bathroom, smelling citrus and trying not to cry. “Please, just go,” I whispered to myself. “Please, the bathroom is no place to eat your lunch anyway. There are germs in here and jesus christ who even does this?"
When I finally heard the door shut I contemplated crying some happy tears.
Some people hate rush hour traffic. Others don’t like confrontation. I just hate knowing that people can hear me in the bathroom. I don’t care what your reasons are: eating your lunch in the bathroom is weird and defamiliarizing and I didn’t appreciate it one bit, orange-in-the-bathroom-gal.