In defense of the pack
Anecdotal evidence proving a female bathroom companion is a must-have
My two years at the University of Virginia have proven some of the best memories are made in the presence of a toilet.
Ladies, you know as well as I do we can’t go to the bathroom alone. Whether we’re in a fraternity bathroom, enjoying the ephemeral camaraderie of bonding over the lack of toilet paper with that girl from our first-year politics discussion, or at a restaurant, unwilling to leave the table unless we’ve secured a partner in crime, college just wouldn’t be the same without the bathroom pack. You can call it a matter of safety or a good venue for gossip, but, at the end of the day, it’s just what we do.
Weird? Yes. Vital to college life? Hear me out.
In the madness of orientation and the name-hometown-dorm introductory trifecta, I found myself in the O’Hill restroom with a group none too pleased about the game of Ninja occurring outside. In fact, they were more than displeased – they were simply not going to join. As an out-of-state kid still unsure what exactly “NOVA” meant, I didn’t mind the game personally. Uncoordinated though I may be, there’s something fun about making a fool out of yourself. Right?
Fine. Maybe I was just desperate for friends.
In any event, I made one last-ditch attempt to sway them – something particularly convincing along the lines of, “Uhm, you sure…?” – when the girl at the neighboring sink turned to me and asked, “Wait – do you want to play Ninja?”
Fast-forward to a phone number exchange, a few dining hall dinner dates and, two years later, it’s still hard to explain I met one of my best friends in a bathroom.
There’s also something to be said for the fact girls have to wait in significantly longer lines than those in possession of a Y-chromosome. Take, for example, the Hunger Games movie premiere, at which my friends and I decided to make a “quick” bathroom run. In other words, we joined 20 impatient folks lined against a wall, forced to watch guys enter and leave the men’s bathroom before we even moved a foot.
Bonding over the inconveniences presented by our femininity, the individual gaggles of girls making up the line soon formed one disgruntled flock. In that moment, women’s rights meant nothing more than being entitled to speedy relief. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and our packs stormed the men’s bathroom.
Our male counterparts found this far more bewildering than entertaining. Fathers and small children, in particular, were none too amused. We found it hilarious.
Apparently I have an affinity for the wrong bathroom. Just last week, a friend and I were searching for the girl’s Lawn restroom – given the broad daylight, a garden just wasn’t an option. Asking a male friend, we were told to go “down the stairs and to the right – the first door is the guy’s bathroom, so the second should be for girls.” The logic seemed reasonable, but, to our disappointment, we entered the laundry room. We needed a washroom, not a washer, and we quickly made up our minds – we went into the men’s. Again, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Chatting between our stalls, the door suddenly opened. Some poor, unsuspecting soul was going about his daily business, expecting nothing out of the ordinary. Mid-sentence, we froze.
For the next minute and a half, we stayed quiet in solidarity, motionless – had he heard our voices? Noticed that our feet faced the wrong way? A whole host of anatomically-based logistical questions crossed my mind – not to mention the question of how long he would be there. What if he decided to take a shower? Or, worse yet – needed a stall?
I’ve never laughed harder than when he left, shutting the door without comment.
A lifetime of bathroom companionship makes a girl socially adaptable – a bathroom becomes as good a setting as any for an introduction. A partner in crime makes her braver, and the mutual moments of hilarity or terror that occur between the loo and that automated “Try just one!” paper towel dispenser can’t be planned and can’t be replicated.
So quit stalling – some of the best college memories come when you leave the PG approach to bathroom etiquette behind.
Caroline’s column runs biweekly Thursdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.