One sunny and beautiful morning I found myself utterly kid-less! My husband had taken our three year old on a little nature hike, so I was free to do whatever I liked. F-you, pile of laundry, I thought, and headed out for some relaxing tunes, comfy chairs, and fancy coffee. I walked into my friendly, neighborhood coffee shop and immediately made a beeline for the back room. I had to pee, you see, and that’s where the bathrooms were located. The ladies’ was occupied so I pulled up a chair and set up my laptop and crossed my legs to keep from leaking.
I sat there for quite a while before I began to wonder if the bathroom might actually be unoccupied, the door simply closed but not locked. I thought about standing up to check, but 1) I hadn’t been siting there long enough for it to seem like I rushed to the back room to find a good spot to sit and not because I was about to explode, which was embarrassing, and 2) what if there was someone in there who was – oh, I don’t know – blowing their ass out because they drank too much coffee, and by my knocking on their door they’d have to confirm they were in there and had been for quite a while, which would be super embarrassing for them. I continued to sit and my mind began to shift focus.
A dude sitting nearby was doing a lot of coughing and sniffling. He was working on his laptop and in full concentration mode, but his damn nose was leaking. He kept coughing into his right hand then wiping the droplet of wet snot from the tip of his nose with his left sleeve. I wanted to get up and grab him a tissue, and perhaps kindly suggest that he and everyone else around him would be more comfortable if he went home, but my crossed leg had started to go numb and I knew I’d have to uncross it and live through pins and needles to be able to walk, and that then my bladder would make itself known again, so instead I kept sitting.
Another man came into the backroom and sat at a table across from sniffling guy. He plugged his laptop into the wall and typed for a minute, then got up and went to the restroom. I hated him.
A woman came to the back room and went straight for the bathroom door, the bitch. Boldly, she tried the handle, which was locked. Aha! I thought, So there is someone in there! Sensing the need to establish myself as first in line, I blurted out a quick Someone’s in there and blew my just-sitting-here cover. The lady nodded and murmured an ohokthanks kinda thing, and I felt satisfied that I’d be next to pee.
In the front room, a barista called out a drink that was ready and two people stood to claim it. A nonfat honey latte with extra foam. Two idiots (I wouldn’t normally call people idiots over their choice of drink because you gotta do you, but they became bigger idiots the longer I sat there trying to ignore the ocean inside my bladder) had actually ordered the same drink, hadn’t noticed each other, and were now trying to determine if another nonfat honey latte with extra foam was being prepared and, if so, what the wait time would be on that. The more unfortunate of the two patrons deferred, satisfied that he would be able to get his grubby hands on that sweet nectar soon enough.
A woman entered the coffee house with a toddler and a baby carrier, and I marveled at her bravery.
Finally, the ladies’ room door swung open. A middle aged dame of some size stood in the doorway, making no attempt to hide her discomfort. She puffed out her cheeks, pursed her lips to exhale, and rubbed her substantial tummy. Then, she hoisted her bag onto her shoulder, rocked back for a little momentum, and lurched forward, and when she did so, she moved out of the door frame and allowed the stench of whatever she did in there to waft through the backroom. Sniffles guy was immune, as his nostrils were clearly an exit-only orifice at this point. Pees-freely man took in a short, sharp breath then brought a clenched fist to his face. Bold lady muttered something like ewgodareyoukidding then promptly stood and went into the mens’ restroom, that brilliant bitch. In the front room, the barista called out another nonfat honey latte with extra foam and Unfortunate Patron finally got his drink. Supermom had managed to order a beverage and was now alternating between coloring with her toddler and cooing at her baby. And I continued to sit.
Then came a text from my husband: Fun hike! Headed home now. I took a mouth breath and nodded my head. Me time had ended and I would be needed at home. But first, I had to, had to, had to pee. I uncrossed my legs and shook the tingly one as the pins and needles worked themselves out. I sucked in my stomach to clench my pelvic floor so I wouldn’t pee myself and stood up, gathering my things. I shouldered my bag and took a few steps in the direction of the women’s restroom – just in time to watch Supermom usher her babies towards the potty. Ew, stinky. Breathe through your mouth, she said, and looked up to make eye contact with me. She paused for a moment. Oh… she said. I smiled. That’s alright, go ahead. I have one at home, I told her, crying on the inside. Embarrassed, I sat back down and buried myself in my phone. I text my husband: Yay! Any pics? See you soon. I took a selfie to document the moment. I tapped my foot and scrolled Instagram. I looked at the cute hiking photo my husband sent me. I willed my bladder to expand and swallow me whole.
Then, I looked up just in time to make awkward eye contact with Sniffles guy as he sneezed a snot rocket. I gave him a sympathetic half smile and looked away. Pees-freely man gave me a slight wave. My eyes narrowed quizzically and he leaned forward in his seat to quietly ask if I had the wifi password. He’d apparently been pretending to use his laptop and had finally plucked up the courage to ask someone. Supermom and company piled out of the bathroom and I immediately stood. Sorry, she offered, her cheeks flushed. One look at the bathroom and I understood what she meant. The toilet paper was gone, the sink was wet, and the toilet was clogged. C L O G G E D. I glanced towards the front room in time to watch Supermom escort her family the heck outta there. Jesus, said Bold lady, who had emerged from the men’s room and was now taking in the mess in ladies’. Just use that one, she offered, laughing breezily. I hated her, but as she walked towards the front to make her departure, she dragged a tiny bit of toilet paper stuck to her shoe along for the ride.
F-it, I thought. I stepped into the mens’, closed the door, dropped trou, and peed for approximately 45 minutes, wondering the entire time why I ever leave the house. I thought about the weirdos I had just encountered during my one hour alone outside of the house, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I have never felt more judgmental and more dumb all in the same moment, I thought. I guess we’re truly all a little awkward. With that epiphany, I wiped, flushed, and left, promising to be a little kinder to myself and to others the next time I’m out and about.