At school, it’s common to hear one girl ask another, “Want to go to the bathroom with me?” But I have never thought to ask that of a guy friend. I doubt I would get a positive reaction if I did. The male bathroom experience is utterly different from that of the female.
Even in the most disheveled of men’s rooms, there are rules. An unspoken etiquette is observed, especially when it comes to selecting a urinal. One must always furnish neighbors with a buffer zone of at least one urinal. If this is not an option, look up and pretend to be deep in thought. In addition, avoid all communication, along with unnecessary eye contact.
I believe that women’s social behavior in the bathroom shows their confidence and illustrates men’s insecurity. The women’s bathroom is a destination where they can talk without men overhearing. Guys hardly take advantage of this privacy and experience their restroom without the chit chat. We feel free to debrief each other on our weekend escapades and talk about personal issues outside the bathroom, but never in it.
Personally, the question of whether to use the stall or the urinal haunts me most. Urinals may be crowded, possibly with people I wouldn’t want to stand next to, like an eighth grader picking his nose and wearing smelly gym shorts. Stalls are a safe-haven where I can sit in privacy and read about how “John was here,” or “Stop writing things on the wall, John. You aren’t funny.” But urinals represent a privilege of manhood; I don’t want to seem like less of a man for choosing a stall.
High school students are heading toward a bathroom upheaval: college co-ed restrooms. After spending our bathroom lives separated and operating under dramatically different social codes, how are men and women supposed to adapt to sharing bathrooms? Will we talk together? Will men start visiting the bathroom in groups? Will I finally be able to escape the awkwardness of the men’s room?
Change is necessary for us to gracefully handle our college bathroom experience. I am tired of following stringent rules, but at the same time, treating this place like a living room seems inappropriate and unhygienic.
What can I do to spark this change and to help prepare both my fellow men and myself for the college experience ahead? Maybe next time I’m in the bathroom I will ask someone how his day is going, or what he thinks of the tasteless graffiti on the wall.
Junior Journal is a section in the Mirror where local area High School student’s work is published. For questions or concerns regarding this section, please contact the Managing Editor,
Christopher Rosacker at [email protected] or call 310.577.6507 ext. 124