While standing in a block-long restroom line at a college football game, I suddenly realized why women leave for the bathroom together.
It started when going to overcrowded events like football games and rock concerts became popular, way before everything was televised and in HD. Unfortunately, the facilities holding these events were not equipped to accommodate female patrons. Women’s restrooms held only a few stalls at best. Unlike the urinal which can accommodate one to twelve men depending upon alcohol consumption and body size (at least that’s what I’ve been told) a stall can only accommodate one woman. The result: the 39 minute restroom line.
The men’s room line is never long because it operates on an assembly line system. The man walks in, unzips, relieves himself, zips and washes hands, hopefully. A woman on the other hand must first look for an unused stall by peering under every door until she finds one without a pair of ankles wrapped in clothes. Once she finds the only empty stall, she soon realizes why it was empty. The lock is either broken or someone has failed to flush. Not desperate enough to flush, she proceeds to find a friend to hold the door shut. This isn’t too much of a problem, though. A new found friend will gladly hold the door for her because she knows exactly what the occupant in the stall is feeling after waiting 39 minutes to go to the bathroom. And if there is the slightest chance that she can use the stall next, she’ll do anything to move herself up in line.
Once inside the stall, the user begins to quickly remove five layers of clothing, eleven, if it’s winter in Wisconsin, before she even sits down. Inevitably, there will be one or both neighbors who have run out of toilet paper, so she does the neighborly thing and passes some paper next door. Then, when she’s finished, she pulls up each of the five layers, adjusts, tucks, zips, buttons, buckles and readjusts one final time. This of course must be completed in less than three minutes and twelve seconds according to the Code of Restroom Etiquette.
As with any national problem, the Federal government tends to get involved. To resolve the issue, the government did the only thing it could: appoint a committee to study the long term psychological effects of long restroom lines. The findings were what you would expect before the study. The committee found that many women between the ages of 4 and 84 suffer RLSD (Restroom Line Stress Disorder). Their recommendation was to double the stall capacity in all public restrooms for women. The remedy was a good one in theory, but as we all know, real life rarely matches theory.
Because of years of conditioning, women are not ready to give up their shared restroom trips. Women are gatherers and the modern day gathering spot is now the restroom line. They realize that when duty calls, and they are attending an over-crowded event, the restroom line will most likely be out the door, down the hall and halfway to the parking lot. Being naturally efficient, women decide not to go alone. When she picks the stall with the broken lock, she will already have someone to hold the door, saving precious time and adhering to the “Code.”
What the government study failed to address is that it doesn’t really matter how many stalls are available. Women will continue to leave for the restroom together. It is a learned behavior that we will pass onto our daughters because we enjoy the camaraderie that this modern day gathering provides. And, you may never know when a new writing idea will strike.