What’s up with guys and their bathroom rituals? Tom Matlack and others debate the finer points of mercy flushing, potty-training, and TP substitutes.
I am really screwed up—a recovering addict, emotionally unstable, obsessed with American Idol—and yet pooping has never been an issue. I can get a little gun-shy when there are a ton of guys breathing down my neck at the urinals during a Celtics game. But a few wiggles of the toes and pee flows just fine.
When it comes to the deuce I am oddly proud of my versatility—my ability to drop my baggage just about anywhere. Ever since I was a summer associate on Wall Street and found myself involved in some double-barreled action with my department’s senior partner one morning I have had no issue. He had his paper and I had mine. He let it rip and I responded in kind. It was an unspoken male bonding ritual of the highest order.
So I was shocked when a friend confided in me that in he hasn’t taken a dump at work for over a decade. Another can only move his bowels while reading Maxim from the pile next to the throne. Most guys were shocked that I feel free to use the bathroom in a plane, on a train, or in a park (why is this beginning to sound like a Dr. Seuss book gone profoundly wrong?). The horror!
Seriously, what this reporter has uncovered is a vast epidemic of men with poop phobias verging on mania. Perhaps worst is that grown men just love to talk about their bowel movements. I put out a little query on HARO and was overwhelmed by the, uh, visceral response. It was 10 times bigger than my frequent queries about faith or goodness or fatherhood. In fact, what I heard was men passing their poop paranoia down to their sons (“Don’t go there, son, it’s too dirty”).
Is there some vast untalked-about problem here?
In three years at my current employer I’ve crapped at work three times—and we have a very clean bathroom. It’s not that. It’s more the shame of it all. Where the restroom is located, you have to walk past a highly populated area, and the can is the only thing back there beyond the coworkers, so if you’re gone more than two minutes everyone knows you just took a dump. Plus I swear the walls are a quarter-inch thick; God forbid you pass a little gas while you’re in there. I live a mere 15 minutes from the office and I can count way more times when I’ve run home to take care of my business.
—Jim, public relations professional, Akron, Ohio
I can pretty much squeeze cheese under any circumstances, with the exception of in the most disgusting public bathrooms. My favorite activity in the last year or so has been playing iPhone app games while dropping a deuce. I particularly enjoy WSOP Texas hold ’em poker, PBA Bowling, and, of course, Angry Birds. I especially enjoy this activity during work hours. I love to get paid for taking a dump!
—John, marketing professional, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Unless it’s a dire situation, I will not poop in a public bathroom. The few places that have individual rooms are fine, but with a row of stalls there’s just too little privacy.
The worst is smaller office bathrooms with two or three stalls. The tile floor and walls cause every tiny sound to be amplified, so anyone else in the bathroom gets an earful of your bowel movements, and you can likewise be stuck listening to a coworker. Combine that with the fact that you often know who else is in the bathroom with you, and it’s just a bit too much. I’d rather give up fiber and coffee than have to dash into a meeting moments after the boss listened to me deposit last night’s dinner.
—Billy, editor, ConstitutionalDaily.com, Huntsville, Alabama
As a dry cleaner, I can tell you that many guys just poop in their pants. No bathroom required.
—Joe, Kansas City, Kansas
I treat a number of children, particularly boys, who have gotten “stuck” in the poop phase of development. The where and how of pooping begins in the toddler phase,when children are evolving to claim themselves as separate from their moms and dads. That includes mastery of one’s own body functions (eating, sleeping, peeing, and pooping). If the child is dealt with by force or over-control, he or she can get stuck in this crucial developmental phase. The child may hold in poops, only poop in specific places or at specific times, or, in extreme cases, have leakage onto underwear. The child ends up feeling angry. His anger gets displaced onto you and he acts it out by refusing to poop anywhere or at any time unless on it’s his own terms.
—Dr. Fran Walfish, child and family psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent
I refuse to drop anywhere but my home. I prefer to fully disrobe when letting go. Seems to facilitate the process if my ankles aren’t bound by bunched-up pants.
—James, account executive, Orange, California