Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thought for a Sunday Afternoon

If there's one thing we humans are endlessly fascinated with, it's puzzling over our own nature. We constantly marvel at patterns or trends in behavior that illuminate some core aspect of our humanity as though we aren't privy to our own humanness in every waking moment.

When I was in college, there were two wings on each floor of the dorm I lived in: one side was boys; the other, girls. Each wing had a communal bathroom (this was my freshman year, and having a room with its own bathroom was a thoroughly upperclassman luxury). The arrangement of the building resulted in a shared wall between the boy's room and the girl's room.

One day, while sitting in the back-most stall in the bathroom, I suddenly felt the toilet lift slightly beneath me. The toilets were the sort you often find in public restrooms, the kind that jut out from the wall, rather than the quaint, tank-backed homestyle ones. After a few minutes, I felt the toilet lower again, and then heard a muffled sound of flushing coming from the other side of the wall.

Over the course of several months, this happened to me a few more times. Clearly, the toilet was loosely connected to the wall, and via the shared plumbing or something, the corresponding women's toilet was transformed into a barely functional, not-all-that-fun seesaw. It was also a little odd in that the second person to sit down really had no idea they were sharing a toilet moment with someone else; only the already sitting person would be able to perceive the slight rise or fall underneath them.

One day, this toilet phenomenon was raised in conversation with some other guys that lived on the floor, and it became quickly apparent that a few of us had experienced the same thing while sitting in that last, lonely stall.

The remarkable thing wasn't just that we shared the same funny toilet-rising experience. No. As we soon discovered, we had also each independently arrived at the same reaction to the knowledge that someone else was sitting on the connecting toilet. After our initial "uplifting" toilet episodes, each time we used that toilet again, we would wait patiently, hoping that someone would take a seat on the other side of the wall. And when we finally felt the gentle rise beneath us as an unsuspecting girl sat down, we all had decided that the best course of action would be to wildly bounce up and down on our own toilets, presumably giving the person on the other side the rowdiest ride a toilet had ever afforded them. A lonely sort of humor, yes, but you make do with what you have in the restrictive environment of a restroom stall.

So I guess in retrospect, maybe an anecdote that's not so much revealing about human nature as it is indicative of boys not quite out of adolescence. Mildly fascinating all the same.


M. Charles Emery said...

God forbid anyone walks in while you're flailing about in your stall. Although now that I think about it, chances are they'd just find an explanation enlightening enough that they'd try it themselves on their next trip to the bathroom.

Alivia said...

Oh my goodness. I laughed, out loud, at this post. Then I laughed some more at Mason's comment.
Thank heavens for my friends.