Lapinel Arts


Story Archive

Larry Craig


Senator Craig was an inspiration for me to reflect on the pleasantries and etiquette of public restroom behavior. Thanks to him I am now more educated about extraneous movements and sounds that may occur within the confines of the public restroom. Who would have ever thought that a public Waste Disposal Site could also be a place for social interaction?

  My behavior within the domain of a stall has been imprinted in me…probably genetically from my cave dwelling ancestors. If I’m in a stall and someone passes by too slowly or checks the door automatically I cough or clear my throat loudly. This is much preferred to establishing an interaction by saying something like “occupied” or “it’s busy”. This is even more important now that we know that there are extracurricular activities that take place within the stalls (or between the stalls?). A cough or clearing vocalization is better than a grunt that might evoke sympathy or even more scary, an interaction.

“You need a laxative buddy?”

  Recently, in an airport pit stop, or rest room, I was unfortunate enough to have someone enter a stall to my left. No tapping feet or hand swipes but the poor ol’ guy was making serious effort to donate to the water pool. He was grunting and straining so hard and loudly that I wanted to leave as quickly as possible. I feared that if all this activity ceased suddenly then he may have died…and I certainly didn’t want to be the one knocking on the door asking “are you OK”.

  Sound waves emitted and wave splashing indicated success but to no applause, just the required anonymity and silence.

  Everyone knows the expected behaviors. Just go into a guy’s rest room and intentionally walk too close to the doors and you will hear a chorus of vocalized primitive noises indicating the stalls are busy.

  Everyone knows the rules of space at the urinals. Never, ever go to a urinal near someone else when there is more privacy elsewhere on the row of silence. Never look to your side, talk or make excessive motion. If someone violates those rules it’s time to leave quickly.

  So the real question is, what do you do if someone starts tapping their foot in the stall next to you? We all know this answer; it’s imbedded in our social radar. Slowly so that it is barely perceptible, slide your foot away to the other side, shut the exit door, open the stall door and leave quickly and silently, eyes cast down, never looking back. If you look at the stall you just might make eye contact with someone that might get the wrong message.

  Now Senator, you were caught, you tried to put a spin on this (that shockingly worked on many people) but worse than all, you now created a new reality based fear about entering a public rest room. Things were bad enough without this additional knowledge.

No soup for you!


Dean Lapinel, MD