We are marvelous freaks of nature whom God made unsoiled. Men are the gross ones, who piss, poop, burp, fart. Untainted, we smell like lavender, are effortlessly sexy and poised. Or, at least, some men seem to think so. Perfection. It’s a lot to live up to. What most men don’t realize is that women discuss bathroom issues almost as often as sex. “Ehh, I haven’t gone yet today!” “I took the biggest poop this morning.” “I spent the entire weekend waiting ‘til we got to a restaurant because I was too scared to go in the hotel room with my boyfriend.” We’ve all been there.
What are the “Rules”? Who wrote them? Women? Men? Single? Married? Divorced? Teenagers? Twenty-year-olds? Thirty-year-olds? Sixty-year-olds?
It seems, as people get older and older, they get more and more comfortable discussing bathroom issues. Is this because they care less about fulfilling their gender roles? Or, is it because as soon as women deliver babies and mess themselves while pushing, the cat’s out of the bag, and their husband, boyfriend, or baby’s daddy realizes that, yes, women shit?
While writing this piece, I often caught myself whispering into the phone if I was discussing the newest interview or anecdote with my mom or friend, or being ambiguous about what this piece was. This was what I wanted to stop. I was on a mission. I wanted people to disclose their bathroom hang-ups–whether with pooping, peeing or anything in between. I wanted to know to what extent men and women hide this “beautiful, natural thing,” as a friend put it.
I didn’t have a choice. I had to be open. I was a bed-wetter until I was 10 years old. And everyone knew it. Yep, that’s right–10. I far exceeded disappointments in the potty-training department. I blame my dad. He was one until he was 8 years old. My parents probably expected at least one of their children to follow his example. However, after three girls, I think they thought they were safe. Nope. Leaving it to the fourth and last one, I broke the mold.
It got worse. I almost always had company in my bed. One of my sisters would either climb into my bed or carry me into theirs. Or, during the summer, my best friend and next-door neighbor, Sara, and I slept together in my bunk bed. By 3
a.m. it was a guarantee my clothes (the nights I was wearing any) and the sheets would be soaked, drenched, and I’d wake up to, “Bieners, you peed. Wake up.” Some times I’d wake, often times my eyes would shutter and then I’d be out again. With Sara, she usually passed back out too, only to wake up again to me peeing a second time. This would due her in and she’d call for my mom.
I still don’t know if my inability to wake upon my body’s signal was because I was an extremely deep sleeper or simply because I didn’t care. From ages 5 to 11, I spent one month at sleepover camp in Algonquin Park, Ontario. Most parents pack three or four sets of sheets. Mom packed about a dozen. An entire duffel devoted just to bedding. My counselors were prepped and ready for the nightly routine.
I shouldn’t really say I was a bed-wetter. Because if so, I’m not accounting for the once or twice a year accident. It’s the same spiel every time. Around 3 a.m. I’m about 70% asleep and am 100% certain I’m sitting on a toilet. I begin peeing, the release feeling almost orgasmic. And then I mutter, “Oh shit!” I try my best to cut off the flow and drag myself to the toilet.
2. “Will you come sit with me?”
I was spoiled as a kid. If I wanted the company in the bathroom, I’d get it. “Mom!” I’d yell from the mud bathroom. “Will you come sit with me?” The mud bathroom was the best place to go in my family’s old house. There was a heat vent right at my feet, and it was the best chance of having Mom stand nearby.Â “Hold on a second, Sabrin–.” Soon, she’d appear, her hair a bit frazzled, her red-brown curls is a chaotic mix atop her head, wearing one of fifty pairs of black spandex and a tank. “I’m just in the midst of sautéing the mushrooms. I can stay for a few minutes.” My forearms would be resting on my thighs and I’d be grunting, trying to get it all out.
Why do I mention all of this? Probably because I’m unnaturally open about bathroom stuff. There was no hiding the fact that it was a 90% chance I’d pee the bed. I was used to the company in my bed while peeing, so of course I wanted company in the actual restroom. I’m a master at coaxing a friend to stand in the restroom with me. I figure, the more the merrier. Good chit-chatting opportunities.
3. “At least we pee with the door closed!”
By the time I got to college, not much had changed. If anything, I had grown accustomed to my friends growing accustomed to my ways. I expected my college friends to do the same. Some did and loved my “Sabrinaness”; others thought I was strange.
Having had ACL-reconstructive surgery three months before varsity soccer preseason started, I was a red-shirted freshman. Mid-season at an away game at Haverford College, I stood on the sidelines like usual, cheering here and there, getting a firsthand experience of the stereotypically obnoxious Haverford fans. They were overdoing themselves this particular day. In the middle of the second half, I hurried to the bathroom underneath the bleachers, unable to hold it any longer. The restroom had two stalls in really close quarters. It was musky with tarnished metal and empty toilet rolls. I didn’t want to touch anything so I kept the door ajar. Halfway through my tinkle, a Haverford fan walked in, and, startled, she exclaimed, “Oh! Sorry!” “Sorry!” I apologize. “I just didn’t want to touch anything and also felt claustrophobic so I didn’t close the door.” Five seconds later, after having drip-dried, I pulled up my warm-up pants and rejoined my team along the sidelines. Fifteen minutes later, in between taunting one of our girls with a wrapped ankle and another one who was beat in a foot race down the left side of the field, the Haverford fans began chanting, “At least we pee with the door closed! At least we pee with the door closed!” My teammates didn’t hesitate. Everyone stared at me, they shook their heads, I countered, “What?” and then they returned to cheering.
4. Visiting the Frat Boy
I was 18 when I first kissed a boy. While all my sisters and girlfriends were getting busy, my chastity caused my dad to often ask my sisters, “Does Sabrina like boys?” I had crushes since I could remember, but I’d crush on my older sisters’ boyfriends or friends. They were obviously off limits.
I met Brice while on my high school senior year spring break Caribbean cruise with eight girlfriends. He’s Jewish, so I knew my dad would be thrilled. A month before graduation and a week after tearing my ACL, I flew to Ithaca to visit him at Cornell. Somehow my parents weren’t worried about their daughter staying with a random kid, whom they had never met, in his frat house. It was the first romantic experience I had with a boy. (Apart from dating Michael Levy in fourth grade for one month.)
It was then I was introduced to the whole pooping issue.
I remember realizing I could not be as open as I was with all my best boyfriends. For the two days I was there, I’d force myself to wait until we got to a restaurant to poop. I was horrified by the thought one of Brice’s frat brothers accidentally walking into the bathroom. I also remember laying in bed and gently releasing a fart I was holding in for hours, while Brice was half-asleep, in the wee-hours of the night. I think I made a coughing noise or cleared my throat to cover up the “toot”.
5. “Girls don’t do that.”
James Pickle. The name alone would send my family into a tizzy. “PICKLE!” they would mock. Followed by, “New or Old?” I met James in Prague during summer 2006 in a study abroad program. I flew to New Orleans to visit him during Mardi Gras the following winter. He was a student at Tulane, living with three male roommates. This was when I learned the essential skill of turning on the facet while I pooped so no one heard. A trip or two later, James visited me in Baltimore while I was at undergrad. We spent little time in Baltimore, driving up to New York City for an early spring weekend.
I lost my virginity this trip. I thought that guaranteed an absolute level of conformability. I was wrong.
Back in my apartment on Sunday evening, we dressed for dinner. Leaning over my bed, grabbing my phone, I spaced out for a moment, forgot where I was and whom I was with, and farted. Toot! Crisp, simple, non-messy. As soon as the air vibrated, I dreaded what I had done. “What was that?!” James begged, shocked, his eyes glaring at me in horror. My response seemed as if I was cool about it, nonchalant, “I farted. Whoops.” I wasn’t. Internally, I wanted to crawl under my bed with my cat. “Girls don’t do that,” James countered.Â “Um, okay.” I walked into my closet, literally smacking my palm on my forehead. We never discussed it further.
6. “You know, you can fart in front of me if you want.”
I knew Drew was a bit different as soon as we started dating. The first time he slept over, I wondered why he was down to his boxers with socks still on. “Oh, yeah, I have athlete’s foot,” he admitted the next morning. I couldn’t decide if I was more impressed by his honesty or turned off by the thought of his athlete’s foot perpetrating my sheets. Maybe a bit more of the latter.It didn’t take long until Drew began encouraging, “You know, you can fart in front of me if you want.” He was known by his family and friends as being “gassy.” And he didn’t try to hide it. If he needed to fart he would; I liked that he felt extremely open, yet at times, I even caught myself wishing he wouldn’t be so gross. I wished he would have succumbed to the “expected” bathroom/bodily function etiquette.
7. Farting while peeing.
I met Kyle on Halloween weekend 2010. He was dressed as an Oktoberfest barista accessorized by plastic, beer-dispensing tits and a yellow pigtail braided wig. I was dressed in a checkered full body lycra body suit. No one could decide if I more closely resembled a checkerboard, NASCAR flag, or kitchen floor. After a successfully fun and romantic date the following Wednesday night, I spent the day with Kyle on Friday. I biked to his apartment in Bucktown at 11 a.m, despite the chilling Chicago windshield. We fooled around a bit in his bedroom, walked to a nearby local Mexican joint for lunch, and then returned to his place to continue fooling around. In the midst of snuggling and dozing off, Kyle went into his master bathroom, peed, and then let out a toot. A crisp fart. I could hear his shocked sigh and sense of embarrassment.
Here I was, in the midst of writing this piece, pretending I didn’t hear his blatant fart. I didn’t want him to know I heard; I didn’t want him to be embarrassed or assume I judged him as being less sexy. I acted like I was asleep.
Why is it Taboo?
We all do it. Yes, maybe not within the first week of dating, but it’s no mystery.Â Peeing and pooping are celebrated when you’re young by the family. But in the real world, it’s unspoken, impolite, just plain dirty.Â And it shouldn’t be.Â When do people first hear it’s not okay to talk about it in public? We’re so worried about certain words and bodily functions that are normal. Why are certain subjects private? Why are people so uptight?
Is it because we go to the bathroom in a private room? If so, what does this theory say about sex? That’s done privately, except the topic seems to be on the forefront of all conversations. If not directly, indirectly.
Men and women alike seek out and brag about the ultimate pleasure destination–the orgasm. But when done well, pooping can feel close to as satisfying. What you produce is no beautiful thing, but the feeling of having that release, either #1 or #2, is equally fantastic. Truth is, without it, we would die and plants couldn’t grow.
No one is denying feces are disgusting. Interesting, yes, but disgusting. But why can’t we talk about it? Why isn’t it socially acceptable to come back to the lunch table and say, “Damn, I just took a glorious poop!”?
Written by: Sabrina Must