Retail Chronicles: Potty Talk, The Prologue

Not long ago, the famous columnist and sedimentary scholar, Gene Weingarten, wrote a column for The Washington Post magazine reviewing a product for sufferers of Poop Shame. I don’t recommend that everyone read it aloud at the breakfast table, but when I did, it inspired an engrossing release of opinions and anecdotes. I myself was viscerally reminded of the robust lack of poop shame I witnessed when I used to hide in a women’s bathroom at an old hellish job. I’ll return to that, and my unintentional bathroom study, in another post.

First, for those not familiar with the concept of Poop Shame, I’ll give you a classic example:

I am waiting for one of three stalls to free up at a Barnes and Noble bookstore in Frederick, Maryland. The line is long. All stalls are occupied. There is no chit-chat amongst the waiting women. The tension suddenly amplifies when fortissimo anal trumpeting and toilet bowl splashes echo off the tile.

A little girl at the front of the line screams,”LaTanya, you NASTY!”

Her sister emerges from the middle stall and says, “Shut up! Wasn’t me!”

Another brassy burst sounds, acquitting LaTanya.

Giggling, her little sister uses the middle stall.

Now, I’m the last in line. There are a dozen women before me. However, the two ladies occupying the two other stalls refuse to emerge, knowing that they’re are nailed as Poop Trumpeter suspects. It had to be one of them, right? And neither of them can bear the thought of leaving the stall to face a crowd of women who heard them poop! Worse, one of them was not the Poop Trumpeter, and she can’t stand the thought that people might think she was the one!

It’s not like someone farted at the Macy’s perfume counter. The Poop Trumpeter is doing exactly what is acceptable to do, exactly where it is acceptable to do it. Poopin’ in a toilet in a private cubicle. Yet, even though the ladies room line is long– even though it takes forever and a half for the line diminish—even though all the fussing, twitching women, their eyes tearing up, have to cycle through one bathroom stall to relieve themselves–the embarrassed stall-sitters settle in for a stake out.

I know this is exactly what is going on. I am positive, because, as I said, I am the last in line. No one else enters the bathroom. So when my turn to use the stall comes, the bathroom is quiet. No more shoes or shoe-wearers waiting against the wall are visible from the view under the stall doors.

This is when one possible Poop Trumpeter flushes. She seizes the moment, that critical moment when the last person in the a long line of witnesses, me, is safely ensconced where I can’t see her. She washes up and scurries out at top speed. The second occupier waits cautiously. She must’ve been the real Poop Trumpeter, because she didn’t leave, conscience-free with her fellow suspect. No, if she was innocent she’d have had the satisfaction of shooting knowing disdain at the culprit. Instead, the Poop Trumpeter makes sure I’m not flushin’ anytime soon, then she makes her getaway.

That, readers, is a brief and clear illustration of the Poop Shame phenomenon. For additional stories, I can only refer to Mr. Weingarten’s piece. For the sake of full disclosure, I will confess that I am both a defecator and a urinator. Poopery. Pissery. These acts are committed daily, hourly, every second…And I suspect all of you are guilty, guilty, guilty!