Shared Washrooms

Shared Washrooms

Excerpt from Living with the In-Laws

August 2019

Some men need to realize that we have it a lot easier than women, especially those women with irritable bowel syndrome. I can't claim to know what it's like to be a woman, but gender-neutral washrooms gave me insight into oppressive bathroom wait lines. In 1866, bathroom equality ceased to exist thanks to one of the most used inventions of all time: the urinal. Men became free to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in awkward silence as we relieve ourselves in an area that takes up little place. This allows for ultimate efficiency by systematically separating a quick tinkle from a three- to thirty-minute poop (the time depends on the entertainment value of our current newsfeed). Not only is it efficient, but also artistic. Thanks to Marcel Duchamp, men get to appropriate modern art with decorative urine every time they pee. If I have enough of an arsenal, I try to hit every hole in the urinal mint just so I can change the shape and colour. I believe Duchamp would be proud.

Women, on the other hand, do not have this luxury. No matter the required duration of their bathroom activity, they all need to go to a bathroom stall. This causes lineups, and thanks to the gender-neutral washroom movement, men, women, they, and everyone in between has to experience that same time-consuming line (since, for some reason, urinals are a rare find in the all-gendered washroom.)

Equality. I've always been in favour of it because I don't know how amazing it is to belong to the one percent. And so the following segment of my book is not a complaint, but rather a parable to help the majority emphasize with those who suffer from IBS. I support gender-neutral washrooms because nobody should feel like they don't belong in this world, but it does pose a threat to those susceptible to pant spoilage. A doctor hasn't diagnosed me with the problem, but I do shit my pants, and as an “adult” that shits their pants, I feel deep down in my bowels that I may identify as someone with IBS.


It was five in the morning, a time when my girlfriend and “mother-in-law” were fast asleep. For my physical and emotional safety, it is best not to wake my girlfriend, but this was difficult when my bed seemed to have a gravitational pull stronger than our Earth's. Even though I always woke up earlier than her, I had to sleep on the left side of the bed—the side pressed up against a slanted wall (which apparently causes negative feng shui). Since rolling to my left was not an option, and rolling to my right equalled a death sentence, I slid from under the blankets at the foot of the bed to avoid waking her. I lightly kissed her flawless, soft cheek, and then attempted to tiptoe down the hardwood stairs. I heard a crack and listened for a growl from my room—no sound. Once I made my way to the kitchen, I turned on the brightest light to diminish myself of melatonin and scooped a vitamin-rich green powder (Vega) into a shaker cup. I chugged it, smashed a banana down my gullet, and felt ready to meet my client for an early-morning workout.

Client. 5:15 a.m.: I have to cancel. I feel ill.

Fuck. Going back to sleep was hopeless, and so I drank my preworkout, which might as well be crystal meth with a sprinkle of vitamin B12. Once the unmonitored substances were coursing through my veins and tingling my skin, I made my way to the gym. It was the end of August, and the sunrise was slowly making its way from behind the giant willow that protected me from the rain when I wanted to smoke pot.

I had just finished spending a week at my parents’ house in the Okanagan, five hundred kilometres from my girlfriend's mom's house in Vancouver. The thought of lifting and putting down heavy iron added to my chemically induced tingles. When I walked inside, I noticed the YMCA had undergone some renovations. For those of you unfamiliar with the YMCA, it's a Christian organization, but this one is also in Canada, and so everyone is welcome. Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, gays, whites, transgender people, the oppressors (ripped white men like myself), and even children all mingle here to achieve the bodies and fitness levels we desire. Everyone is equal here, and yes, that also includes Indigenous people.

As you know, in Canada the Indigenous people are a group with thousands of years of culture that the whites choose to ignore because the stories are traditionally oral, and, therefore, discredited, unlike our white-ass written stories. In Canada, the land famous for accepting refugees, we often exploit the true and original inhabitants of this land through systemic racism hidden behind our excessive political correctness and an abundance of sorrys. If you'd like to get a glimpse into how we do that, check out “What if Natives Stop Subsidizing Canada?”

Not much had changed in the past week. The free weights were still in front of the mirror so we gym-goers could “check our form” and give in to our self-absorbed tendencies. The cardio bunnies were still stretching in front of the men. And there was always that strange little Filipino dude swinging side to side on the cable machine he had set at a weight far beyond his own.

Once I completed twenty super-sets (eight to ten reps) of compound movement exercises—dumbbell row, dumbbell press, weighted pull-ups, and weighted dips—it was time for the single joint exercises. These exercises, unless they're for rehabilitation, make muscles more defined—superficial goals that emerged out of deep-rooted self-consciousness. I could blame the toxically masculine environment of the conservative small town I grew up in (as a child, I was bullied for enjoying “feminine” activities such as art and crying). Still, I could also admit that achieving the American superhero body was one of the few goals I had attained, and so it kept me sane.

Anyway, I lifted a seventy-five-pound dumbbell to pump out fifteen dumbbell pullovers, when suddenly I had to poop. I only had ten minutes left in the workout, and I'm not the type that can break my routine—not just my gym routine, but any routine—unless I had planned not to have a routine that day.

So what's the problem with holding it in? Anybody can hold it in for ten minutes, right? Wrong. When it comes to defecation, I'm like a McLaren F1— I go from one to a hundred real quick (I know nothing about cars). And so I clenched tight and scurried to the washroom—but wait, what was this? A new bathroom sign with a stick figure wearing half a skirt. It took me a moment to realize that the YMCA had installed gender-neutral washrooms while I was gone. Out of instinct and routine, I hurried into the restroom that used to belong to men—both stalls were occupied, which was rather unusual. The conditioned response to seeing the fluorescent-lit bathroom and smelling cleaning supplies mixed with whey protein farts (the very worst kind) only made matters worse. Subconsciously, my mind signalled to my bowels that it was time to poop. I clenched even tighter as I walked toward the bathroom that once belonged to women, where, of course, there was a lineup. The options were wearing thin, and so I made my way downstairs to the change rooms (which were still gender-segregated), and there was a lineup there as well! I knew people's pooping time could be unpredictable and that the run home was precisely three minutes.

I ran as quickly as I could with clenched butt-cheeks and looked down to avoid eye contact and conversation with any of my elderly neighbours out for their morning stroll around the golf course—yes, I live on a golf course. And no, I can't afford it. My girlfriend's mom can.

When I finally made it out the door, my keys were already in hand, and as I unlocked it, I felt some liquid stream down my leg. I burst inside, unhinged the door, and made it to the washroom in time to relieve myself from the second half of my excrement (the half that hadn't collected in my compression underwear). As I undressed, I noticed that my legs looked like someone suffering from vitiligo, half brown and half white. The brand new roll of toilet paper disappeared within minutes, the antiseptic wipes burned, and the cleaning supplies went everywhere. When I finally made my way into the shower, I realized I would be late for class. I scrubbed myself clean, wrapped a towel around my body, and threw my underwear into the outdoor garbage. Cleaning my pants would have been a respectful decision, but school always came first.

In my four years at university, I had yet to miss a class; I needed to belong to the top ten percent of students. Why? Because my financial and career-oriented intelligence had failed me, and like some of my professors, academic intelligence was all I had going for me. I was twenty-six, and there was no way in hell I was letting any of those snot-nosed twenty-one-year-olds do better than me. After all, if I didn't show up on time, who would answer all the prof's questions in the lecture hall?

I quickly washed my black pants until the apparent feces were gone and ran upstairs to throw them inside the washer. There was already a full load, but I didn't want to wake anyone up, so I stuffed my pants between all the other clothes. I then grabbed my school supplies, careful to keep quiet so as not to wake my mother-in-law and girlfriend.

I made it to my cultural psychology class five minutes late. A text vibrated my leg, but I ignored it because today's topics on evolutionist and relativist approaches to morality were far too interesting to befuddle with my cellphone.

When I left class, I was reflecting on whether my morality based on autonomy and community is superior to those that base their morality on divinity. There must be a way to prove that my morals are better than those of a jihadist, right?

But then I checked my phone, and all moral superiority gained by belonging to the hegemonic class vanished in seconds.

Siena: 9:15 a.m.: There's shit on the floor and door handle.