It was an awful day. I was sleep-deprived, behind on homework, and couldn’t shake the feeling that my shirt was tucked into my underwear. All I wanted to do was eat gummy worms and cry. I had gone to O’Neill to pretend to read, but some lifeless cretin was sitting in my favorite chair. Defeated, I walked to the third floor bathroom and locked myself in one of the stalls. Two girls were talking about vomiting as they washed their hands. “It’s freeing,” one said. Their conversation made me impossibly sad, so I closed my eyes for a while, tucking my head between my knees. When I opened my eyes, there it was: a haiku about peeing.
I don’t remember exactly what it said (which is a travesty because this was kind of the defining moment of my life), but there was a river metaphor, no capital letters, and for some reason it rhymed. It was written in pencil, in the most musical cursive I’d ever seen, and it made me incredibly happy to be sitting on that toilet. It was all so beautiful. I slow-mo E.T.-touched it before reaching into my backpack for a highlighter so I could grace it with a border of little pink hearts.
Bathroom graffiti is literally the best thing ever. It can turn squatting on a porcelain rat hole into a transcendent good vibes jubilee. Constipated? Whatever, there’s a Pikachu doodle like ten inches from your forehead. Once I saw a heart with “Al Gore” written in the center. Morrissey lyrics. Interactive poop tallies. Of course you get some vulgar oddities like, “LOL girl droppin some BRICKS,” but doesn’t that just add to the depth of it all? Where else can you get away with saying something like that? Why post something on the BC Confessions wall, when you can post it on a REAL wall for another mystery human to read and cherish? When you’re in a bathroom stall, you might as well not exist. You’re anonymous. A fly. So when you get a fleeting thought, you scrawl that bb down.
If I ever become an activist, it just might be to halt the production of those freckly fake-granite bathroom stalls. For real, unless you have a metallic Sharpie, you can’t get a single word to show through. And of course there’s the moral dilemma of writing on Stokes’ immaculate walls. I personally find chalky pastel enclosures to be ideal – but increasingly hard to come by. And when you do come across a nice, decrepit bathroom stall, there’s always the chance it’ll be painted over. Swapsie life philosophies covered in gloppy layers of lead-based buzz kill. Janitorial staff, COME ON. Can’t we all live vicariously through bathroom graffiti?
Stall scrawl is realer than real. It can be endearing (“You look beeeautiful today!”), philosophical (“If not now, when?”), angsty (“YOU WILL DIE ALONE”), or really, really important (“pregnant nooooo”). But bathroom graffiti is always real, and it has turned using public bathrooms into one of my all-time favorite social constructs. And can I just repeat… interactive poop tallies.