(This is my quarter project for my english class. It’s long, so I’ve broken it up into a couple parts to make it more tolerable.)
It can be frightening to leave the comfort of home, but things change. New schedules mean new habits, new alarm settings, new venues. Over the 2 years I have been at Stanford, I have had class in many buildings. I have slept in many classrooms, sat in many hallways, and washed my hands in many sinks. When it comes to pooping, though, there’s only one place for me: in my dorm, on my floor, in the men’s room, in the inside stall. I plan to be back in my dorm on schedule to use my one and only toilet. With so many to choose from across campus, though, it seems narrow-minded to just use one. Each bathroom serves basically the same purpose, and yet, each has its own landscapes, its own quirks. In the 4th stall of the 3rd floor of some building, you can rely on this grad student to be there, Chronicle in hand from 8:54 AM to 9:03 AM, and you better not take his stall. That wall has ancient writings, and the first stall in this hall doesn’t lock properly. I know I feel at home in only one place at any time, but I don’t think I can understand why without getting away, without knowing how others experienced their excretory events. So, I venture out into the wild to see the sights, meet the natives, and mark the land.
My quest begins in the basement of the Math Building. I have explored this site once or twice before, though not with any regularity. I step in and see that the larger, handicap stall door is closed. I hunch over to look under the stall, and I see feet. Although I haven’t quite mastered following tracks or scents yet, serendipity has guided me to man in his natural habitat.
I sit down in the other stall, pulling out the Stanford Daily. I have some personal work to do before observing and understanding the native. Shortly after, I begin.
“Hey, how’s it going?” There’s silence. I knock on the wall between us.
“Alright.” The voice is confident, even, unrevealing.
“You use this washroom often?” The pause is just as long as the last, though I don’t knock again. I can’t see him, but I sense apprehension.
“Now and then.” Not on his usual territory. I wait a moment for him to say more, though he doesn’t speak.
“Well, do you have a preferred washroom?” The silence lingers. Admittedly, silence isn’t the worst sound one hears in a men’s room.
“Not really.” Looks like we have a drifter, one who isn’t as picky as I am. I hear the rattle of a spinning toilet paper dispenser, the flush, the belt buckle clatter, the footsteps, the opened latch. Looks my target has gotten away. He seemed skittish, though maybe I came on too strongly. The toilet isn’t enough of a trap. I’ll need to be more tactful next time.