Pooping embarrasses me more than almost anything.
You might say I suffer from a super-minor form of parcopresis. It’s not full-blown psychogenic fecal retention. I’m physically able to defecate even in a worst-case scenario.
My mind is telling me “No.”
But my body… my body’s… telling me “Yes.”
I go to great lengths to avoid Matt-has-to-poop detection from others. The thinking seems to be that if they know I poop, they will think me smelly and disgusting and not like me.
“Hey Matt! Are you throwing a party for your birthday?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“Maybe!?!? Why wouldn’t you?”
“What if people don’t come? That would be so embarrassing.”
“Why wouldn’t people come?”
“Well. I don’t know if you’ve heard. But, um. Sometimes I poop.”
“ … ”
“Don’t just stare at me. Say something!”
“Matt. Everybody poops.”
Real-Time Poop Update
About mid-morning, I snuck off to poop in my office building. More often than not, the room is empty. This is good. Very good.
I saw a guy walk in before me. I gambled. I can sneak into a stall without being spotted.
Right when I walked in the room, a guy I know exited one of the stalls.
Stealth mission: aborted.
I played it off like I only had to pee and made small talk about the weather with the guy who had recently finished pooping. Not one time during the conversation did I judge him for his biological tendencies. But my instinct was to pretend I wasn’t jealous of him.
I left and returned to my desk to sit in discomfort.
Sometimes, I will go to a separate floor. I know a bathroom in the building that is rarely used and if the likelihood of getting busted seems high in the nearest bathroom, I’ll retreat to that location.
This is not sane. I can’t explain it.
I don’t know.
I. Don’t. Know.
No one has ever poop-shamed me. At least not that I can remember. But I’ve always been REALLY shy about this. I don’t think any amount of reflection will find the root of this problem.
During the early years of my elementary school experience, the stalls in the boys bathroom didn’t have doors on them. I didn’t like that. It was weird for me to have people look at me while I was pooping. I was equally uncomfortable making eye contact with other poopers.
Maybe my own insecurities are why I made fun of The Dump Kid®.
So, to be sure, it’s NOT simply a phobia related to my desire for women to not think me gross and ugly.
But that is a really big factor.
“Please Don’t Go In There.”
I can’t even begin to tell you how bad my timing was.
What seems like an exceedingly high percentage of the time, my wife would need to go in the bathroom I had just used, or was currently occupying.
I hated this.
Some guys are the proud-to-fart types. I am not. I think it’s a tad disgusting. Every single fart let loose in the company of someone who wasn’t a gross guy friend or my son was done 100-percent by accident.
One of my biggest fears in my newly single life is that I’m going to end up spending the night with a girl after a long night of beer drinking. A bunch of draft beer works the opposite of Gas-X (Note to self: Stock up on that stuff.)
So, she wakes up in the morning to my bed head, looking my grossest, with eye boogers and bad breath, looking infinitely less sexy than she remembered from the low-light beer goggles at the bar or party or whatever the night before.
And I’m farting.
The thought makes me shudder. I’m not kidding. I literally shuddered.
I didn’t think my wife needed any help thinking I was unattractive. I tried really hard not to be gross. I don’t know whether she appreciated that. Obviously, in the end, it proved somewhat irrelevant.
The Jesuit Standoff
I didn’t coin this amazing term. A guy who is a co-worker and friend said he coined it at his last job. And it’s so spectacular, I choose to roll with it.
The Jesuit Standoff is something that happens with two people suffering from quasi-parcopresis, like me.
You’re sitting side-by-side. You don’t know who the other person is. You can only see their shoes and the bottom of their pants.
Who will make the first move?
This is a two-stage standoff.
Stage One involves who will actually commit the act of pooping first. There are beautiful moments in the pooping experience where it can be done quickly and stealthily. These are blessings and I say a grateful prayer of thanks every time this happens.
Other times, it’s less graceful. Less covert to both the olfactory and auditory senses. Sometimes, biology wins the day. But if it can wait, the true parcopresis sufferer will wait until the coast is clear. And once in a while that means trying to outwait the guy next to you.
A standoff. A Jesuit Standoff.
Stage Two involves the great escape. This is the trickiest part of a stealth pooping mission. So much can go wrong during the cleaning, flushing, zipping and straightening-up process.
Hurry, hurry, hurry! Someone could walk in any second!
The reason this matters, is because I will NEVER intentionally leave a bathroom stall if there are other people in the room, unless circumstances (time) dictate that I must, or I’m in some super-weird place out of town with a bunch of strangers and don’t care because I’ll never see them again.
But if I did it here among familiar faces?
“Oh my God!!! There’s Matt exiting the stall!!! He pooped!!! He’s so gross!!! I’m going to send an email about this to everyone in the building!!!” they must always be thinking and plotting.
I don’t like it.
I don’t like people thinking I’m gross and smelly.
This happened a few days ago. A Jesuit Standoff. In my super-secret bathroom, of all places. It only took me about 10 minutes to realize the truth: This guy’s a pro. And he’s going to win.
One of my favorite moments that happens within the safe cocoon of the bathroom stall is when I hear people come into the bathroom, notice that all the stalls are full, and then just wash their hands as if they had only come into the bathroom for that reason. It makes me laugh every time.
The reason I know they’re doing this—this play-it-off-like-I-don’t-have-to-poop move—is because it’s EXACTLY what I do.
How Not to Communicate
My social anxiety on this topic is highly irrational.
After all, you poop. Yes, YOU. *points and laughs* Gross person!
When I really think about it, I submit this is the single weirdest thing I do. I’m almost 35 years old. And I insanely sneak around trying to pretend I never poop. It’s ridiculous.
I think we do this in our relationships, too.
I say that, because I did. And if I did, there’s a slight possibility that some of you do the same thing.
We keep silly secrets from those we love. Because we fear rejection with them in the same way we don’t want our friends and co-workers to know we’re pooping. Only the stakes are higher and our sex appeal is on the line.
There are things I didn’t tell my wife about. Things that, had I just been more upfront with her, I think might have made our lives better. But I was too scared.
Like a Jesuit Standoff.
Fear is such a worthless and debilitating emotion. But we all get scared, and that’s okay.
What’s NOT okay is hiding things from those we love—especially when irrational fear of rejection is involved.
We need to be honest and open about what’s inside of us if we want to share a life with someone. We can’t live in the shadows.
We need to live in the light. Walking hand in hand.
We need only be courageous enough to share more of ourselves. To be more vulnerable. To take a leap of faith. The following rejection or acceptance would tell you all you need to know about your relationship’s future, anyway.
What’s the future of our relationship? You and me.
You know… now that you know that I poop?
You probably think that I’m smelly and gross. And I’m sorry. I don’t want to be that.
But I’m taking a leap of faith.
That you and I can still have a next time despite this biological inconvenience.
Only one way to find out.