In dorm living, stall choice is always important, but for those of us with irregular bowel situations such as Colitis, Crohn's, IBS, or anyone who suffers chronic mud butt from eating regularly at a dining hall that serves everything with a side of e. coli, the condition of a bathroom stall can be the deciding factor between sweet relief and abject torture. Thus, stall choice becomes crucial.

I realize there are people out there who could drop anchor in the middle of a Brit. Lit. survey course with the same ease and matter-of-fact satisfaction they would take eating a meatball sub. These are the same people who will come into your room and brag about the size.

"Yo dude, you wouldn't believe the deuce I just dropped. You would think it was the first time I'd clean my colon since last semester. Man, it was sick. An elephant would be concerned if he did what I just did. You got to come check this out, bruh." 

To this, I might say something like, "I'm all set."

The same type of person often takes a certain pride that his farts smell "worst than anything you've ever smelled in your entire life." These people won't have the slightest idea of what I'm talking about.

In a standard four-stall layout, choosing becomes a bit like the Monty Hall Paradox, a probability guessing game of what's behind door #1. The first stall, closest to the entrance, is usually designated as a piss stall. Stall #1 to go #1, it's intuitive. I've never quite understood the brilliant invention of the gapped toilet seat. It plays into men's laziness and lets them think they don't have to raise the seat when they pee. But, we all know that even a stream of moderate flow could potentially splash to the height of the seat. And, if the guy didn't care enough to raise the seat to begin with, you know he's not going to wipe it down. So, without cracking stall #1, you can guess the toilet seat looks like a life-preserver freshly plucked from an ocean of piss.

Stall #4, or which ever is the last stall, is often designated for dumps. This stall has a wall on one side and, because of its distance to the entrance, somehow seems more discreet. It's an ideal stall. However, because of its popular use, it often smells like a fresh deuce. You can usually sort of guess who was in there last. And, maybe you saw what they ate in the dining hall. For those with irregular bowel situations, relaxation is key. Opening a stall door to fresh tracks, a whirl of shredded TP, and a plume of stink is not relaxing.

You're left with stalls 2 and 3. Stall #2, like #1, can be tricky because of its convenience. If it hasn't been used as a pee-on stall, then some other misusage befalls it. For example, somebody, as one did in my dorm, might attempt to use the toilet as a garbage disposal. He liked to try to flush two packs of stubbed cigarette butts down it, leaving little filters floating around. I'd like to see you try to have a relieving experience into a giant ashtray. Maybe you're lucky and don't live with someone who wants to humiliate you when you try to make proper use of the bathroom. However, as you push open the aluminum door, you're reminded of something none of us can avoid: puke. The person who befouled stall #2 may have been too drunk to stand, but he was cognizant enough to avoid bowing his head over the piss-covered toilet seat of stall #1. He chose #2 to barf on, the remnants of which appear to be Domino's Hawaiian Special with desiccated pineapple chunks.

That leaves stall #3, the most overlooked stall of them all. By God's grace alone, you find the lock intact and the toilet paper fully loaded. For whatever reason, the toilet seat is up. You flick it back down with your foot. It looks clean, but still you pull a couple long strips of TP for the sides of the oval seat and a shorter strip for the backend. Ahh, you may have the sweet relief for which you've always pined. Alas, the one weakness of the 3 stall is quickly exposed when, to your left in stall #4, Meatball Sub settles in to cut loose a hot one. You know it's him because of the brazenness with which he takes to the toilet without setting down any TP strips. His flip-flops peak beneath the stall. You'd think some movie theater etiquette would apply. If there are a row of available seats and one person sitting in the middle, you don't sit next to that person, you give at least a seat buffer. So, why is it any more appropriate to sit next to someone in an empty row, no buffer, and take a dump? But, we're dealing with Meatball Sub. Gutteral noises rattle the aluminum walls as he attempts to pass that elephant sized dump he's known for. He sounds as if he's in the fifth set at Wimbledon against Roger Federer. The commotion is so unsettling your internal peristalsis freezes up and your sphincter tightens like a shut faucet. After this happens, whether or not you're able to go is beyond the point, you fake wipe, give an illusory flush, and, unlike Meatball Sub, wash your hands with soap, then leave.

For those with bowel-related anxieties and sensitivities, there is only one on-campus solace: the hidden, unused bathroom. These are located, generally, on the basement level of the library near the esoteric Dewy numbers in the stacks. Sometimes, it's about timing. Late night in the public bathroom near the laundry room. On that floor where only three people live. There are unused bathrooms and you can find them. One of these could prove to be the grail of bathrooms, the one-person lockable. But, if none are within reachable distance, be sure to choose your stall wisely.

If you liked this, check out Matt's book, "On Toilets" available on Amazon