There, I said it. Occasionally, I use the women's restroom to relieve myself under the conditions that
a.) the men's restroom is occupied
b.) the women's restroom is a single user
c.) there is no wait for the women's. No, I am not going to cut in line because 1.) I am not a cheater and 2.) knowing there are others outside waiting to use the restroom would paralyze my urethra (anxious bladder syndrome, ya know).
The first time I slipped into a women's restroom I felt like a perverse criminal. I was dining out with a friend, needed to pee, and the men's room was unavailable (condition A). My friend and I had been enraptured in conversation, so I hated to prolong the intermission. Meanwhile, the women's restroom stood open, unused, purring for attention - and no one could see who was going in and out of which restroom. And who the heck is going to tell me I am not an androgynous female if I want to be? It's 2015, people.
Of course, you might be thinking, "Can't you just hold it?" This is when we discuss my daily water consumption. Now we all know the typical human should have at least eight cups of water a day. I take in about 20 to 30 cups a day; I drink as much water as what your newborn bathes in.
Several years ago, I read an article about avoiding water bloat: This is the phenomenon when you are more often than not dehydrated and drink some water; your body automatically retains the water, because it knows you, and it knows you're going to keep depriving it of water, so it's not letting go ("We're in this for the long haul," your body says, holding your abdomen hostage with threat of a nine-month water bloat).
But if you drink water often enough, your body trusts you, and it will let the water you're having go because it knows more is on the way ("There, there, endocrine system, I'm looking out for you").
Incidentally it was beach season when I discovered this article. And since I prefer my waistline closer to Brad Pitt Fight Club standards versus John Belushi, I poured on that water. I added "drink water" to my to-do lists if we're being honest. I've stopped doing that, but every morning I still consume at least four cups of water before I leave the house.
My friends will vouch for me. I am accustomed to fascinated stares as I throw back multiple glasses of water in a single standing.
Me: "Wait, we're about to leave? Let me grab water really fast!"
(This habit also applies to vodka before going out to the bars.)
At restaurants, I drink water nonstop. In these incidents it’s not for my health (okay, my bloat). I essentially have to always be moving multiple body parts, and since we're sitting down, I can't move my legs; my fingers are busy with the straw wrapper; and I can’t when you’re talking, so I drink water.
Waiter: "Let me get you pitcher."
Seriously, this happens every. damn. time.
By the time food arrives, I am six cups deep and my bladder is popping buttons. I'm lucky if I can make it through any hangout only using the restroom once. (My mom thinks I should be checked out for diabetes; apparently, frequent urination is a symptom.)
Via the patriarchy, we always expect the men's restroom to be available. Well, this does not always hold, and that can be a painful realization when your bladder presses against your belt. Yet there, beside the locked men's door, is the beckoning women's restroom - definitely unoccupied in this moment, probably cleaner, and always a commode. So seducing, isn't it?
I am not trying to assert the patriarchy when I use the women's throne. It is just, my kidneys can only endure so much. What else do you expect me to do? Revert to caveman times and tinker outside? (Which I have done.)
And why do we have separate facilities for men and women? Usually I'm grateful for this segregation because women's facilities do tend to collect throngs (e.g. at concerts, bars, theatrical productions, etc.) while men's are in-and-out. But when I have to go, where is the sanity? What is this social construct?
I brainstormed several motivations behind the restroom apartheid. For one, we have this pedestal where women are cleaner than men, which, okay, I will admit men's bathrooms can be grosser because we have this ability to pee from a distance and, well, splatter - but men who can't a.) steer better and/or b.) clean up after this themselves have a special restroom waiting for them: A hole in the ground. They don't deserve a public restroom. I have also been in some gnarly women's restrooms. You can blame projectiling infants, but ugh.
I also am not advocating for shared bathhouses. I'm just requesting we treat single user facilities as unisex - which a lot of places already do. So make your male- and female-appointed bathrooms two unisex bathrooms. Because I am going to make the hallway a bathroom if not.
Or I am going to sneak in. Like I did last week at a Starbucks.
I think we all know that when you have coffee, very shortly afterward you need to go like a green light on the Autobahn. Except when there is someone in the men's restroom, that green light means nothing; it's like a traffic jam. Why even have lights?!
*keels over outside bathroom*
*knocks on women's door*
So there I am inserting praise hands and prayer hand emojis into a Snapchat to celebrate the glory that is an open women's restroom when the men's is taken when *knock knock*. Ah, crap.
Actually, they didn't even knock. They just tried opening the door. This happens almost every time I am in a known single user bathroom. Did no one learn the "knock first" rule? Instead, I am thrust into a panic room by your assault on the doorknob, and my bladder seizes up, which keeps me in there even longer!
As I washed my hands, I prepared for the inevitable fate outside the door: There would be a woman waiting to enter only to be taken aback at the male standing on the other side of the threshold. All this could be avoided so easily. (Unless it was another male in the same boat as me – then, we could form a lobbying group.)
And indeed, the knocker was an attractive female. I might have asked for her number if circumstances had been different. Instead, I couldn't even muster, "I put the seat down."