Social Experiment of Sorts


The bathroom is a vulnerable, emotional, and disgusting room.  And that’s before you even throw the word “public” in front of it.  Yes, believe it or not, there are people who would rather crap their pants than breathe in the stench of a public restroom for a few brief moments. When you think about it, the psychological processes that go down in a public restroom are far more complex than the mundane, somatic human act of expelling waste from the body.

When you pick apart every miniscule behavior and decision that happens throughout this journey – from the moment someone decides to utilize the loo all the way through to the exit strategy – any average human suddenly becomes ten kinds of crazy.

What you are about to read is a documentation of the time when I, Eileen Elizabeth Matthews, went against all my initial instincts in a public bathroom and embraced the uncomfortable yet valiant act of breaking a social norm.

The scene opens at Kingston Mines, a decrepit Chicago blues bar, outside the ladies room.

There are two over-dressed yet under-clothed women at the end of the line.  I proceeded to lengthen the line and attempt momentary companionship: “Kingston Mines…More like Kingston LINES, eh?”

Bitches weren’t amused. And despite my lack of interest in befriending anyone who welcomes leopard print into his or her life, I decided to try a different approach.

“Oh my god, I looove your heels! Where did you get them?!”

They didn’t hear me. I now appeared to be talking out loud to myself at a bar. In light of my rejection from the Cheetah Girls, I decided to go full-throttle with this mission. I glanced at the lengthy line of women and assessed the potential for a bitch fest. I removed myself from the line and bee-lined it through the door, hoping the other women would be too drunk to notice my quest.

Passive aggressive stares ensued along with several choice words.

I wanted to lie and say something like “oh my friend is in there; she’s sick; she needs me” to justify my defiance of social structure, but that would have made my actions more acceptable. My mission was of pure provocation and audacity.

Instead, I bumped myself up to the head of the line with an “ain’t no thang” attitude and proceeded to file into the first available stall. Mind you, the stall I shamelessly entered was the middle stall.  Now, I usually go for the first stall because I have this belief that it’s the least used.  It doesn’t catch the eye, and it sure as hell can’t fit a family of 5 incontinent children in it. So, if the germ armies weren’t already assembled at this point, they were definitely suiting up.

By the time I forced myself to make contact with the toilet seat, the battle had begun. Upon relief, I glanced to my right and saw that the toilet paper had rolled all the way down to the alcohol-steeped floor.  I was left with two options: claim environmental consciousness and embrace the paperless pee or succumb to the fear of communicable diseases via the liquor soaked TP.

I chose the latter.

I flushed using my hand, as most people would assume a toilet is meant to be flushed. However, as someone who is a frequent foot-flusher, this act felt very filthy.

In a last ditch effort to be as extreme in this task as possible, with confident conviction I flung the stall door open (pant zipper down) and waltzed out of there without so much as glancing at a sink.

I could feel the germs festering in every crevice of my body, along with the copious judgments from the ladies’ room lookers.  Mission accomplished.