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9:46 a.m. - Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2003
Miss Manners on the Mug -- The Saga Continues
That's a misnomer. This is actually a lament about culture, not a protest of incorrect behavior.

One hindrance to my having female friends is that I am completely unable to participate in the communal bathroom experience, which appears to be the bedrock of female friendship. True friends not only piss synchronously, they also talk to each other across the stalls while they're doing it. How can I reject the action without being seen to reject the actor? If this is the currency of friendship, then I am a freeloader.

I don't remember exactly how old I was when I learned to go to the bathroom by myself, but I have been doing it that way ever since. I concede that there is nothing impolite or even unseemly in consenting adults pissing together: my problem is that I cannot find within myself the will to consent. What shall I blame? My puritan upbringing? My morbid sensitivity?

Whatever the cause, this is a case where my body simply refuses to do what I would do unwillingly: when I, as a concession to the culture in which I live, attempt to meet this demand of friendship, I simply, physically, can't. This leads me to wonder whether it could properly be said that my sphincter muscle has greater free will than I do, since it cannot be compelled to act without true consent; but, on the other hand, I possess what may be called meta-consent: that is, the will to act against my own will. But I have found, unfortunately, that meta-consent just doesn't cut it in the bathroom.

And that's why I can't have girl friends.


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