An open letter to the girl who stood on the toilet of the stall next to me in order to peek over and talk

I was but a mere eight years old.  You couldn’t have been much older.  It was a rare moment in which I needed to use the restroom during the middle of class.  I walked quickly and quietly to the bathrooms by the playground, taking note of the satisfying clomping sounds my saddle shoes were making against the pavement.  My restroom pass was clutched tightly in my hands.  It felt forbidden being out on school grounds when no one else was around.  I entered the empty bathroom; the clinking of my wooden pass being set on the ceramic sink seemed to echo off the walls.  Once in my stall, I lifted the edges of my lightweight, red, cotton dress so that none of the precious material would touch the surface of the toilet as I took care of my business.  That’s when I heard you enter the stall next to me.  Instead of the usual sounds of another girl adjusting her clothes in preparation to sit, I heard the toilet seat moving and groaning under the weight of your feet.  I froze in horror.  “Please.  Please don’t let a girl be looking down on me.” I slowly shifted my eyes up and to the left.  There you were.  Bright white teeth smiling down on me, one arm tucked over the stall barrier to keep you steady.  I quickly unclenched my hands from my dress, pulling the red material into a dome of coverage around my bottom and knees.  You began to make small talk with me, as if having a conversation while looking down on someone peeing was an everyday occurrence.  Being the kind and passive person I was, I answered whatever questions you threw at me, all the while patiently waiting for you to step off your toilet so I could wipe and be far, far away from you.  I don’t remember how long you stood there, but you finally did step down from your toilet.  As you did, I bolted from my stall, deciding to forgo washing my hands, as the sandy textured pink soap would take far too long to rinse off, and I wasn’t willing to have an encounter with you again.  All the way into my high school years, I could not use a public restroom comfortably, and would avoid school restrooms as much as humanely possible.  On the rare occasions I would use a public restroom, I found myself constantly scanning the stall barriers above me while completing my business as quickly as I could.  Fortunately, college dorm living forced me to overcome my fear.  It was replaced with a sense of camaraderie, as I grew to learn that conversations in restrooms were common and acceptable behind the closed doors of stalls.  I sincerely hope that I was your only victim, but if not, I hope the others have found a way to move on.  You never knew how much you scarred me, but I forgive you.


10 thoughts on “An open letter to the girl who stood on the toilet of the stall next to me in order to peek over and talk

  1. Great story. Great detail. I love childhood stories. Love memoir stuff. I can’t say this ever happened to me. If it did I’d have to drop a fool! However, I have been in many a public restroom (when I lived in Vegas I used to write in casinos) and have heard and seen some, uh, weird things. Here’s a boy secret, Erica: Old men love farting. And while they do their business (be it standing or sitting) all hell breaks loose. Once an old man farted while doing the ol’ Number One. It rumbled and went on and on. The room was awkwardly silent and it broke out in mad laughter. The old man just looked at us like we were crazy, like nothing happened. Anyhow, keep on writing.

    • Thanks! Writing *in* casinos?! That must’ve been a breeding ground for great ideas! I love that old men have no shame! I’m all about farting, but I’d have been busting up too!

  2. This is awesome because although I can’t remember a specific example of this happening to me, I can totally picture it and know that there is something very similar in my sub-concious that I have chosen to forget.

  3. That’s the kind of thing that would make you want to only use corner stalls (if you absolutely HAD to) so that you only have one wall to worry about keeping an eye on.
    That’s funny. And sad. And funny. I’m glad that you were able to eventually conquer your fears and accept that us bitches like to talk while we go. But usually only with people we know, or invite to interact with us. Peeping Tonya’s have got to be dealt with…
    Have I told you lately how much I love you?

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