I just don’t get women and bathrooms. Public bathrooms. Corporate. Public. Bathrooms. I just moved back into the corporate world six months ago and have been amazed by degrees at the strange behavior by women in the bathrooms of my building.

Women can’t poop if someone else is in the bathroom. Well, they won’t do it. They will camp out until you leave and let it all go when you wash your hands and disappear back down the hallway. That explains the curiously closed stall door and occasional breathing sounds leaking down underneath the compartments.

The one and only time I’ve heard another woman shit is last week. Right next to me. I’m not really impressed or unimpressed, and poop isn’t that funny. What was funny though is that she verbally apologized for crapping. Every time she farted or made a splash, she sighed and mumbled “sorry.”  Really? Now that I think of it, I imagine myself telling her it was okay. Like giving her permission to do the most natural and healthy thing on earth, which is the permission apparently all of the women in my building need in order to just empty their colons when they need to, surrounding strangers be damned.

Another thing I’ll never understand is the worst bathroom practice of all that I hear when I am peeing or… POOPING* in the stall. I will hear the bathroom door creak open and then a stall door close and the lock clack closed. And then I will hear Fshhttt! Fhshttt! Fshttt! And the crinkle of paper. The woman a couple of stalls over is making use of one of the paper toilet seat covers made available from the dispenser in her stall. Then I hear a zipper and the subtle rustle of clothes. Then I hear the trickle of piss.  And then I hear the toilet paper roll clunking and spinning until a sharp dry rip interrupts it. Rustle as the crotch is wiped. Nearly imperceptible plunk as it is tossed. And then the sound of the woman’s ass separating from the paper barrier, which is the second dumbest sound of all. The dumbest sound of all is the anxious, inevitably  rapid Fshttt! Fhshttt! Fhsttt! rattling the nearby stalls as she dispenses this life-saving device.

I learned years ago from working in a bar that you need to bend a little and look at the toilet seat at an angle to see if there are any pee drops on it before you sit. Get a stranger’s piss on the back of your thighs and you won’t forget to check for a while. Piss, by the way, is apparently one of the cleanest body fluids known to man. (But perhaps not to women.) It’s annoying at most to get it on you when it’s not yours or maybe your kid’s. But it’s not gonna hurt you. So unless someone is managing the gymnastics it would require to get poop directly on the toilet seat or to drip period blood all over it, the worst that could happen is that your butt or thigh skin would come in contact with a piss droplet (ironically the very stuff that is shooting out of your own urethra while you’re in there.) I just can’t see the point of using this paper piss shield. And I can’t get over the the fact that so many women feel they need to use them on each of the five bathroom trips they make a day.

What’s more, is that women keep interaction in the bathroom to a minimum and I get the vibe that they’re almost ashamed to be in there. That they have to straighten their skirts back over their crotches and button and zipper back up their corporate beavers, tucking their button up shirts back into the waistline in order to return themselves to a proper state. Women rush while they wash their hands, as if they don’t want to be in there. And they stare down hard at the faucet making eye contact impossible. Yet you feel yourselves feeling each other. Catch someone’s eye in there, and you’re forced to smile. Leave at the same time, and you’re forced to make that open smile–the friendly one that is one step up from a polite grin, and thank one another for holding the door open. And all of this happens briskly.

I wonder that women’s bathrooms should be the most awkward place on earth. We same women go home to fuck our husbands and maybe even suck their dicks, exchanging smeary fluids and asshole smells. We fart in our cars on the way home. We change hundreds of diapers, wiping poop from places it should never go. And in the most objective sense possible, on our own form we deal with twice the fluids and one extra hole–we’re born to encounter fluids. And yet my own gender seems to be the most inept and apologetic community of people over these undeniable commonalities.

It’s no wonder that most women’s giggly groups are forged on the understanding that sometimes we pluck our stray nipple hairs and endure cramps and strange men leaving things dripping between our thighs. But those things aren’t something that only friends should allow each other. It’s strange that all of us become… strange to each other in public. We’re curiously private in public. And I’m chronically annoyed over it. Men seem to get over themselves a lot easier. I just wonder what the problem is with women letting go and… well… doing their thing.

*This woman poops.