Deuces Wild: The Unspoken Laws of Ladies’ Room Pooping

Way back in July 2011, I tackled peeing in a public restroom. Ready for lesson… ahem… number two?

Dave Barry once wrote (basically; I’m paraphrasing) that a man has to be a total sleazoid sociopath to stand next to another man in an otherwise empty bank of urinals.

Countless women are faced every day with a similar predicament. It’s different, of course, since women are obsessed with what other women think of them and also because our toilets come with walls. But the psychological stress is comparable.

I’m speaking, of course, of navigating The Poop Stall.

Hear me out.

Let’s say a ladies’ room has three stalls–pretty standard.

If a woman–let’s call her Lady A–goes into an empty bathroom with three stalls she will always take the stall closest to the door. That way she can get out quickly if there is a freak toilet fire or assassins (like in that scene from True Lies), PLUS there is a buffer stall in case someone else comes in.

If Lady A is pooping, however, she will take the stall furthest from the door. It is just one of those inexplicable laws of nature, like gravity or neon frogs that kill you if you lick them.

Let’s assume, however, for the sake of argument, that Lady A is not pooping in this particular scenario. So she takes the first stall. Then, in comes Lady B. Lady B must take The Poop Stall, even though she is not pooping. The presence of another person already occupying the first stall temporarily lifts the stigma of The Poop Stall and it simply becomes The Stall That Is A Non-Threatening Distance From The Other Person In The Bathroom.

But wait! Lady A finishes up and leaves the bathroom. Oh no! Now Lady B is in The Poop Stall with no mitigating factor!

Then Lady C comes in. She sees Lady B in The Poop Stall and comes to the only rational conclusion, which is that Lady B is pooping. Lady B, at this point, is beside herself. This anxiety shuts off her urethra and prevents her from being able to audibly pee, which is even more damning.

The only thing that can save Lady B now is a surprise appearance by Lady D, who takes the middle stall, thus restoring balance to the ladies’ room ecosystem and neutralizing the tension between Ladies C and B (even though C still thinks B is pooping).

It’s all very emotionally taxing. And that’s not even taking into account the four-stall models–which require game plans worthy of a Division A college football team–or those vast airport bathrooms with literally endless rows of stalls that give them the feel of an M.C. Escher lithograph, albeit one that reeks of ammonia and urine.

Betty Friedan totally should have devoted a chapter in “The Feminine Mystique” to this.

This post originally appeared on The Sassy Curmudgeon.

About Una LaMarche

Una LaMarche blogs at The Sassy Curmudgeon, and writes for The New York Observer, The Huffington Post, and NickMom. She dominates at mini golf, especially after a few drinks, and it is a fact that Tim Gunn once complimented her on her sandals. You can find her hawking blog posts and fetishizing candy on Twitter, and if you really want to feed her ego (which took a major hit thanks to an adolescent unibrow and a penchant for Troll doll earrings), you can become her fan on Facebook.


  1. mommylisa says:

    OMG – can you tell some people at my office that they need to stop taking the stall next to me when I clearly provide buffer stalls – we have FIVE stalls in there and every.time. someone parks it next to me. Ugh.

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  2. Cindy Brown says:

    Una, this is great! Right on target! (We can only hope for that in a bathroom scenario, right?)

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  3. MamaKaren says:

    Lack of respect for the buffer staff irritates me. We have 6 stalls in our ladies’ room- 4 along one wall (three normal and one handicapped) and two facing the handicapped and one adjacent to it; that side of the room also has the sinks. Some use the back corner one as poop stall, others use the one next to the handicapped. I don’t like the first stall closest to the door because so many people use it, but I can deal with the first one next to the sinks. It seems that a lot of folks use the second stall, though, which eliminates the buffer stall (unless the handicapped one becomes the poop stall, which violates the rule about leaving the handicapped for the pregnant women and people who are changing to go to the gym downstairs).

    Bathroom etiquette is really complicated.

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  4. ChrisBird says:

    Whenever I have been caught pooping in the ladies bathroom, I was right in the middle stall, because I like to spread the wealth evenly. I don’t know for sure, but I think it was the grunts that gave me away, or the dirty, man-sized work boots.

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