For those of you who have never traveled to the States, there is something you need to know. Public toilets live up to their name. They are very public.
Add it to the list of things I didn’t bother researching before we moved, because it simply never crossed my mind that the Yanks might be into poo voyeurism.
I am by no means a nervous pooer. Any place, any time. I have always found it amusing to rock into a toilet and have the occupant of a clearly inhabited cubicle go deathly silent, obviously terrified that a stranger might hear them fart in the very place it’s acceptable to do so, or dare I say it, cause a splash. These poor souls are such easy targets for a bit of mischief. The anxiety levels must go through the roof when someone settles in for the long haul next to them, especially now that it’s so easy to spend 30 minutes reading the news on your phone. It is definitely a legacy of our English ancestry that so many of us remain ashamed of having to drop a deuce. And I’m only talking about blokes, I imagine most of the fairer sex adopt the silent strategy till they’re at least 70.
So then imagine being an anxious pooer in America, where there’s a half inch gap in the door. In every single public toilet. I have a feeling it must be regulated, because if it’s not it means they freely choose to do this. Either way though, they want to be able to watch you.
I didn’t just discover this now, by the way. That was on day one. It creeped me out a bit, but needs must. What happens is that you’re sitting there seeing other dudes walk in to the bathroom and you’re hoping you don’t catch any eye contact, but you feel like you have to be on alert in case someone does start watching you so that then increases your chances of eyeing up a stranger while in situ. It’s an awful Catch 22. And it just happened to me.
Nana is in town (Nana being BB’s mum – she does not know this story yet), so we hired an SUV and headed upstate to see the Franklin D Roosevelt estate and do some sightseeing. It was at the FDR visitor centre where it all went wrong. There was one cubicle free, on the left edge, so I took it. I dropped my daks and settled in. I don’t know how long it had been, but I suddenly realised there was a middle-aged man standing directly in the line of sight that the gap offered him. He had a clear view. And he was taking full advantage of it.
His eyes weren’t looking at my eyes, they were settled somewhere lower. His face was expressionless, completely blank. I knew what was probably happening – he wasn’t actually looking, he was thinking while he waited. Unfortunately for him, in his glazed state his eyes had locked onto the one object they should not have. That, of course, was the generous interpretation. The other was that he is a pervert who likes staring at men on the crapper.
At this point I had two choices: wait him out or get his attention. There are pros and cons to both, but only one of them answers the pervert question. So I started waving at him. On the third pass I saw his consciousness kick in. He looked at me, looking at him. I watched the realisation cross his face and the crimson climb from his neck. Yes, that’s right, you’ve been watching me take a poo. For quite a long time. I am now embedded in your subconscious.
He took a step to his right, out of view. I decided not to compound his obvious discomfort and waited till he had found his throne before exiting my own. I saw him about an hour later as I was leaving with Hurricane. He was talking to his wife in the gift shop, and both spoke in very Eton-esque British accents. Ahhh the Motherland, always keeping an eye on us.