I can't, can't, absolutely cannot poop in public except under very specific circumstances. For reasons unknown to me, I have zero problems discussing it on the Internet (haaaaay, high school crushes and former teachers!), but when it comes to the actual act it's pretty much a solid "hell naw."
You'd think that as a mother, I'd be used to pooping in the presence of others. But even though my kids won't leave me alone while I drop deuce (you'd think the smell would act as a deterrent, right?), it's a whole different story. Because there's a certain comfort level with the people you birthed and whose butts you wiped-or-are-still-wiping. You can poop in their presence with relatively little embarrassment, even while being peppered with questions about your vagina/underwear/cellulite. You can settle a dispute and handle your personal business at the same time, almost effortlessly: "No, your brother (grunt) had the Ninja Turtle first. (plop)." Parental multitasking at its finest.
Pooping in a public restroom, however, requires a level of not giving a damn that I just don't possess. I guess it's because when you dump in public, you're forcing everyone in the vicinity to be subjected to your stench. We've all been there: you're accosted by a vile aroma from an adjacent stall. The odor is bad just by itself, but worse is the psychological impact of knowing that it originated from within the depths of a stranger's bowels. And you sit there, bristling with indignation while you pee, like how dare they inconsiderately stink up the common air you're trying to breathe? HOW DARE YOU, MADAM?
If there are accompanying sounds? Well. Just add another layer of scathing judgment. Because this person is obviously gross in every way and they and their nasty vocalizing asshole have just ruined your bathroom experience. Probably on purpose. It's like they didn't even care. Hmmmph.
I don't want to be the target of such loathing in the loo, so I avoid the public poop at all costs. Unless I can't: like last weekend, when I relived my college years at BlogU, a blogging conference held on a campus. I stayed in the dorms with a communal bathroom, and was instantly transported to The Great Fecal Withholding of '98, when I spent the first three weeks of my freshman year miserably constipated due to an inability to poop in the presence of others. My "Freshman Fifteen" was probably just fifteen pounds of crap I never managed to expel.
Sometimes, though - when push comes to shove and you've got a massive dump honking for the right-of-way - you have no other choice. So to get yourself ready for the inevitable, plan ahead with these five helpful tips so you can boldly "GO" where ... well, where tons of men have gone before.
Start with a small stall. Being instantly comfortable with pooping in a heavy-traffic, multi-stall restroom is like thinking you can handle the freeway on first day you get your driver's license: an unreasonable expectation. You need to start out in a restroom that's smaller, yet still public. Like maybe at a locally-owned bookstore or something. Psychologists call this cognitive behavioral therapy; I call it Public Poopin' Practice (or "triple P" when I want to make myself sound "hip" by using an acronym like all the kids). By breaking free of your crapping comfort zone in smaller, more manageable steps, you can build up to a shameless shite in even the busiest of bathrooms.
Master the art of ninja poopery. There are a few tricks to slide in, slide one out, and slip away unnoticed. For example, squatting on the toilet as opposed to sitting: number one, your ass doesn't have to touch the yucky toilet seat, and number two (haha, see what I did there?), squatting is actually the most optimal position for doing the doo-doo. I know this because I read an article about it once, and because SCIENCE. Anyway. If you squat, no one can see your feet - they'll just assume they've come upon a locked stall and move on to the next. You could also carry a spare pair of shoes with you, change into them upon your arrival into the stall, and then change back to your normal shoes before exiting so nobody will recognize you as The Pooper by your choice of footwear.
Getcha some Poo-Pourri. This is a spray made of distilled unicorn urine that envelops each turd in an odor-blocking polyurethane barrier. Or maybe it's actually just some lovely-scented essential oil that you spritz in the water before you "drop the kids off at the pool." Either way, it traps those pesky pungent odor molecules, preventing them from escaping into the air, and everybody wins. Breathe easy, stallmates.
Secure some signage. In this day and age, access to a good graphic creation program is ridiculously easy. Why not type yourself up an official-looking sign to carry around? It could say something like, "WE'RE SORRY, THIS RESTROOM IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE." Maybe you could even add in a little graphic - like a toilet with one of those red "NO" symbols around it. Or I know! A biohazard symbol! Then you could laminate it so it looks extra-legit, because laminated things are fancy. Tote it around in your purse or briefcase along with some tape (or chewing gum?) to adhere it to any bathroom door, and voila - a private poop, guaranteed.
Stop giving a shit. I don't mean this literally, of course, because if you could actually stop there'd be zero reason for this post. What I mean is, remind yourself that everybody poops. ERRY. BODY. Just like we all fart. It is a thing that links literally the entire human population; transcending race, gender, culture, socioeconomic status, and toilet-paper-roll-placement-preference (which needless to say is over, not under). You cannot be too famous or too wise or too pretty to poop. I may actually be pooping as I type this ... I have a laptop, you know. (Okay, I'm not really, but MAN that's a brilliant idea.) And if you need portable reassurance, a tangible touchstone of crappin' confidence, you can carry around a copy of Everybody Poops 410 Pounds a Year: An Illustrated Bathroom Companion for Grown-Ups to remind you of just how level this playing field really is.
Now: go forth and publicly poop with pride. There's no shame in your defecation game! And if someone in the restroom gives you the "I know it was you" side-eye, just be like, "YEAH, I POOPED, SO WHAT?" (and, like, throw your hands up for emphasis).
They might be appalled by your stink, but they'll be so amazed by your confidence that they'll forget all about it.
Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links, so basically I get a few cents from every bottle of poop spray or bathroom book you purchase. Help a sista out so I can buy my own.