How to interact in the residence hall bathrooms

Emilia Malachowski/Staff

It’s just another day when you walk into the bathroom and feel relieved to find that you can finally brush your teeth in peace without anyone in there loudly peeing or loudly singing a Spice Girls song. And then, not even 30 seconds later, alas, someone else walks in to brush their teeth. Even though at this point in the year you know many of your floormates, you may still be searching for a good conversation topic while you have toothpaste overflowing in your mouth and are dressed in an assortment of African pants and a game-day T-shirt because you gave up on life three weeks ago.

Although many of the best awkward interactions have happened in the bathroom — shout out to the towel that falls off at the right time — there are those that fall way short of being extraordinary. Well, never fear, for here are some great ways to successfully bathroom interact (Note: Ideas come from personal experience and the “How to Have a Bathroom Conversation: For Dummies” book).

First off, you should always have your hand up and be ready to wave if you catch someone walking in or out of the bathroom. You may even want to position yourself in a stance that shows “friendly” yet “I have my sh*t together and am not brushing my teeth because I forgot to do so yesterday.” In addition, you must casually have your other hand resting against the sink so you don’t seem too eager. Remember, we have been here for over a month now, so you want to appear like you have made friends — at least a couple.

Secondly, if a person does happen to walk in, have a 20-second internal debate about whether or not you’re close enough with this person to say “hi.” At this point, half of the people on your floor are your friends, 25 percent of the remaining half you have never spoken to, and the other 25 percent are somewhere between acquaintances and the friend zone. If this person fits the conversation criteria, quickly spit your toothpaste into the sink so you can say “hi” to your floormate — but don’t force it. Remember, you must interpret the social situation carefully and act accordingly.

Try your best to have a pleasant, light conversation that fits co-teeth brushing. For example, don’t bring up whether or not you think nuclear energy is the best way to go — or, for that matter, if Donald Trump is the solution to all our problems. This could lead to a fierce, hand-throwing debate among the sinks that would have the RAs dragging you out of the bathroom by your foot. Avoid such a situation by asking normal things, such as “How are your classes?” and “What’d you do last night?”

After you explore normal conversations, you may venture into potentially dangerous topics such as nuclear energy, elections and if pizza is better than pasta (pizza, always). Do this only if you’re feeling courageous though. Make sure that the amount of toothpaste in your mouth is an amount that makes you capable of talking. You want to sound intelligent in conversations like these, not like someone ripped out the bottom half of your teeth.

Hopefully, as you bond with this fellow teeth-brusher, this person will move up in the ranks and become your friend. Maybe teeth-brushing is the new friend speed dating. It sure does beat bonding with someone when you’re locked out at 4 a.m. and you stumble into the bathroom looking like you just exited a war zone — and smelling like a frat’s basement.

If you feel like this person is a potential soulmate, tell them your room number. Don’t make this sound like you’re inviting them over for Netflix and chill. Make it casual so that it sounds like they can drop in at any time they want. If it does go haywire and they interpret it as you inviting them for Netflix and chill, abort the mission, quickly say “my teeth are so clean now” and leave the bathroom. Somehow make this casual — can’t help you there though.

Hopefully this guide helps you interact with your floormates in the bathroom. Never be shy because even though the bathroom can be a dangerous place, it can be surprising as well.

Contact Emilia Malachowski at [email protected].