When I was in high school, I played a football game at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene. It was a JV match, so very sparsely attended, and other than the fact that it was very cold, and we won, I don’t remember much else about the game apart from the halftime.
See, partway through the first quarter I began to feel a call of nature of the second variety.
Anyway, this was the last game of the season and academic progress reports had decimated the team, so I don’t think we even traveled with a backup for my position. I was stuck on the field until the break, and somehow it managed to be the longest half in the history of football.
When the second quarter finally ended, and I ran (gingerly) with the rest of the team to the visitor’s locker room. Most people beat me inside, so there was a line for the toilets.
Someone who’s been there more recently can correct me, but it’s my recollection that the bathroom is a wing that juts straight out from the middle of the space with no turns or obscuring walls whatsoever. I know it’s not strictly necessary, but that much openness is fairly uncommon to bathroom design, what with our modern sense of modesty.
I mention this because as I then did sit down on a toilet to take care of my business, everyone else was done and going back into the locker-room-proper to get coached up and look at plays drawn up on the chalkboard. And we had a mutual line-of-sight.
You may stop at this point, confused, thinking you’ve misread me or I’ve left out some important detail. Yes I have.
There were no bathroom stalls.
There was a row of toilets, all right, but no dividers between them, nothing obstructing the view between myself with my pants around my ankles and about half of my teammates.
Teenage boys being teenage boys, they couldn’t help but glance my way, now and again, and snicker. The coaches promptly yelled at them to pay attention and quit playing “grab-butt,” but of course this was not easily done, and for the next few minutes I was the center of attention to everyone but the coaches, who either didn’t figure out what was going on or refused to acknowledge it.
As I said, we won the game, but looking back, it’s tough to imagine how.
At the time I remember thinking, who in their right mind would put a row of toilets there in the open like that? I’m used to dividers between urinals.
I still have no idea, but I figure that when the stadium was constructed, it just wasn’t a big deal to go next to one another, just like many men’s restrooms once had troughs. From what I understand, the army used to use open toilets as a way of forcing familiarity and comfort on people, and they may still. It’s certainly true that in past ages, people were less shy with one another. Nowadays, some couples spend years together and still find being in the same bathroom to be uncomfortable.
I wonder if society isn’t missing something by the privacy we’ve been allowed to covet. Physical shyness is just a symptom, not the cause. The utter relaxation without worry while being in another person’s presence seems to only come when there’s nothing risked in a relationship, as opposed to actual trust. People will confess anything on the Internet because like a psychiatrist or a priest, you don’t really care what they think of you or what you’ve said, or at least it has no effect on you.
Love and intimacy aren’t at all the same things, but Adam and Eve were able to live in the Garden of Eden naked and without shame because they existed in a state of complete, unadulterated intimacy, as well as love. To be intimate with another person is to be comfortable around them without shame, and we seem to sadly be lacking that now.
Not that I have a compulsion for public defecation, I’m just saying.