In Defense Of Open Stalls
One of the most interesting issues that pops up from time to time on the poop forums is the discussion of open stalls versus closed stalls. I grew up going to public schools in the South where open stalls for boys were the norm.
Girls had closed stalls -- I know because I once went one in to check my jaw in the mirror (a guy had accidentally decked me in a fight scene in a play we were rehearsing), and since the girls' bathroom was closest to the stage, and I needed to stop the bleeding, a couple of female cast members escorted me in to this no-man's land. That was when I saw the long row of closed stalls. I remember thinking to myself, "Where are the urinals?"
I've never quite figured out why the girls got doors and the guys didn't. Someone once told me it was because boys were more likely to smoke, and open stalls put a damper on that. But I knew some girls that smoked, so that doesn't quite cut it as an explanation.
Whatever the reason, the fact that I spent 4th-12th grades using open stalls with other guys really freed me up from ever feeling embarrassed about taking a crap in public. It got to where crapping became a social outing between periods or during lunch hour. We would talk back and forth and cut-up -- and like forum participant Dakota has pointed out, there was a special sort of bonding that grew out of this.
I would say that most of the guys who used the open stalls freely were just doing what they had to do. I know I was -- I didn't worry about who saw me doing it. It seems that some people who post on the forums have issues with this -- in some cases, four walls are necessary for them to function. That's not a criticism; it's just something I don't understand.
The most curious school bathroom-related incident I experienced occurred my senior year, and it illustrates to some extent an adjunct to the principle of Shameful Shitting. I was coming out of the boys' room, having just finished peeing, and for some reason a female classmate of mine was hanging around the entrance to the bathroom. I said hello to her, grabbed a quick swallow of water from the nearby fountain, and then headed towards my locker. My classmate stopped me, though, and said she wanted to ask a special favor of me. "Would you let me see what the boys' bathroom looks like?"
Since I knew there was no one in there, I said I would stand guard for her. So I stood there just outside the wall while she went in. Then she asked me to come in quickly. I made sure there was no one coming down the hall first, and then joined her inside.
The bathroom had two sinks, with mirrors on the wall to the left; straight ahead was the quintessential porcelain pee trough, right across from three open stalls. There were partitions, but no doors.
"Oh, my God," she proclaimed, clearly very upset. "How can you go in front of everyone? How can you just sit there out in the open?"
I just shrugged at her and said, "I do it all the time in here. It's no big deal. Actually, it's a good way to get to know your friends a little better."
She looked so disturbed I thought she was going to pass out. We walked out of the boys' room together, and she said, "I'm sorry I looked."
I believe there is something to be said for the leveling that takes place in open stalls. At summer camp -- and in the military -- the objective is to bond 'the troops,' so to speak. So you share a lot -- eating, sleeping, showering, shitting together, usually without privacy. If you are shy, you soon learn not to be. And it ultimately makes for better morale. When you have lived this closely with your mates, you want all the more to go to battle for them. (Or at least to win the camp trophy.) They are you buddies, and you've done everything together.
So it may be an unpopular view, but I stand behind it: open stalls are a good thing. They build strong character. The girls don't know what they're missing.