I’m not a shy guy. But at least once a day I feel shyness thrust upon me. Even the Queen visits the toilet but I bet the walls of her lavatory are thicker than the glorified cardboard that partitions our office’s bathroom stalls.
Yes, this is just another rant about a middle class problem. If I grew up with less privilege, the bucket system would be a daily occurrence. But at least I’m not alone, it affects privileged people everywhere.
When Oprah Winfrey – someone seen as the opposite of shy – served on a jury back in 2004, her fellow jurors had to sing songs, including Kumbaya, to drown out the noise of Oprah’s Oprah moment.
I share Opera’s bathroom timidity, but lacking my own musical ensemble, I try to instead avoid peak time near the loo as much as possible (usually 10am and 3pm).
Before standing up and strolling towards the bathroom, I’ll carefully ensure that everyone else in the office is seated. Better to involuntarily share scary sounds with someone from marketing than those I have to look in the eye regularly.
I’m probably just being a wussy. My significant other, who works as an au pair, had to help 5 year old Matt the other day. The little guy asked her to make sure that he was wiping properly (perfectionism starts at a young age). Being a consummate professional, she duly obliged (Matt had wiped properly in case you were wondering).
This is why I try to be a journalist. Hard core careers like pre-school teaching and nursing are not for me. But there is still only so much one can do to avoid what comes naturally, your digestive systems will betray and embarrass you.
I’m frequently caught 2km into my 10km run, with that s(t)inking feeling, with my brain screaming to the rebellious digestive system, “Thou shall not pass!”
Up till now the brain has won, but it’s best not to take anything for granted. I learnt this from my friend. She teased her boyfriend the other day, after he shared his own pooping horror story.
On his way to the opening of a play, he experienced the sort of diarrhea designed to squish ego. Stuck in Cape Town’s notorious N1 traffic, he was forced to take a squat on the floor of his car, before he could turn around and make it home.
While my friend laughed at her boyfriend, the God of Bowel Movements laughed back. Only a few weeks later, her stomach experienced the ‘don’t sneeze stomach bug’. Sadly, after arriving at work, she sneezed and um. . .soiled her undergarments. Her boss couldn’t understand why she left work. Sometimes it’s better for employers not to ask.
Not all bowel movements are horror stories. .
I used to be a bigger poop conservative, until a few years ago when I took up hiking. Not the kind where you walk behind some German tourists for 4 hours, but the kind where you vanish Into The Wild style for days at a time. In the beginning, despite not seeing anyone except for my hiking partner for 90 hours at a time, the reluctance to relieve myself held strong.
But eventually I succumbed to my fear. In that moment alone, high away in the Drakensberg Mountains the thought crossed my mind.
“Leigh, You’ll never take a more picturesque dump than this.”
A hawk circling near me didn’t seem to be offended at all.