THE FEMALE URINALS AT WHITEHEAD
In the fourth and fifth floor ladies’ rooms in Whitehead Hall exists a rare phenomenon. Any female who has ever had a class on these floors is surely aware of it though has perhaps never spoken of it aloud. Between classes female students line up to relieve themselves in a seemingly endless queue that extends out into the hall. Once inside, one finds that each bathroom is equipped with five stalls but that, inexplicably, not a soul ventures into the first two. Most girls assume there is a horrendous mess or a clogged toilet hidden within these stalls and don’t bother to question why two dozen people are waiting around for three toilets. Less squeamish individuals, who have perhaps changed many a diaper and/or bedpan, will peer into the neglected stalls to see what the fuss is all about.
On such an occasion I did just this and found myself staring into one of the strangest contraptions I had ever laid eyes on. Where a toilet should have been there was a long porcelain trough protruding from the wall. I could only assume that one was expected to straddle this contraption and aim one’s stream into the narrow trough without sitting down (or hovering) as with a conventional potty. Having (almost) mastered the equally puzzling squat-toilets popular in the Middle East, I was not about to let this challenge go unmet.
Let me say, dear reader, that these oblong johns are not for the faint of heart. It is an epic feat of concentration to avoid peeing down one’s leg in the process. If your aim is that good, more power to you but, judging by the state of toilet seats in ladies’ rooms campus-wide, most of you can’t even make it into a 14-by-17-inch bowl.
This anomaly emerged from an attempt to reduce wait-time in schools and office buildings by introducing a sort of female urinal. No longer would precious seconds be wasted placing layers of toilet paper on the seat. No need to grasp the toilet paper dispenser for dear life lest your posterior graze the foul porcelain (which, by the way, is probably cleaned more often than the one at your house [and no, you can’t get AIDS/HPV/pregnant from a public toilet seat.]) Ironically, these outlandish commodes have only served to create more congestion in the Whitehead restrooms. Perhaps if the college held a screening of an instructional video on the quad (“The Stand-Up Loo and You”) students would be more inclined to stand astride the porcelain trough and try their luck. Until then, the lines for the bathrooms at Whitehead Hall will be ever long and slow.