We’ve all been there, the pressure building up. The only thing in your mind is the sweet feeling of relief when the deed is done. But at what costs, such great innumerable costs, almost too terrifying to discuss. Yes, we’ve all been stuck between the proverbial (or adverbial) rock and hard place. I’m not talking about deciding whether or not to go to class, attempt to do the Daily Cal’s demonic crossword puzzle, or to eat at Taco Bell; it’s much, much worse. I’m talking about the awful, all-encompassing hub of evil: the public bathroom.

First things first, such things as urinating or defecating were never meant to be shared by the company of others, Greeks and EECS majors excepted. This postulate is the reasoning behind the slang term of “privates” used to describe the genitals. Unfortunately, emergencies do occur, necessitating the use of the public bathrooms. Wherever you go, in any city, state, or country, all public bathrooms are governed by certain regulations, ranging from design to the accepted code of conduct. My knowledge, however is limited; due to one of those silly things people call “the Law,” I am restricted to discussing the male arena of combat.

Any good user knows that in the public bathroom, speaking and eye contact are strictly prohibited. Anyone attempting to deviate from this rule is met with an icy glare if it is their first offense. A second offense elicits the stuffing of the offenders mouth with toilet paper, preferably used. A third mistake [Editor’s note: We are unable to find evidence of any “third offense” ever occurring] results in the stapling of the guilty party’s tongue to the toilet bowl. The health hazards implied by such a penalty are myriad.

Paper “towels” must be coarse enough to smooth a 2 x 4 piece of wood. Where most self-respecting citizens use 2-ply toilet paper, public bathrooms offer 1/2 ply, assuming that toilet paper is available at all. Flushing, apparently, is optional. Leaving your mess for all to see is the equivalent of leaving a business card. A good quality toilet seat rises roughly five feet from the ground, causing the user not only to be acrobatic in leaping up but also causing all blood flow to the lower extremities to cease. The actual flushing power of the toilets varies from one of two extremes: non-existent and supersonic. The latter presents a few problems, as an unexpected depositor engaging in premature flushing may find his entrails being sucked into the bowels of the plumbing system.

As stated previously, silence is mandatory among occupants. Yet, for some strange reason, designers have decided to create public bathrooms with the most incredible acoustics known to man. Every gross bodily function is audible to anyone inside, from the splash of object hitting water to the painstaking efforts of the gentleman sitting next to you as he tries to rid himself of waste. For this reason, I plug my ears while doing my duty, effectively blocking half of the noise. Sadly, this strategy is not 100% effective. For example, one fine day I made the poor decision to use the bathroom in the ASUC. The man/beast in the stall next to me, rather than pooping, was using his time to “get in touch with himself.” This was awful. Even worse, because of the Law of Silence, I was unable to issue a warning to the next person to use that stall. Casualties of war, I guess.

As a science major (yes, Human Bio-dynamics is a science dammit!) I am aware that retaining urine and feces is damaging to their respective tracts. Yet, when considering the alternatives, I am reminded of the words of Edward James Olmos when he portrays Calculus teacher Jamie Escalante in Stand and Deliver: “Hold it.”