I'm a sitter in the shitter by Jessica Ziegler In the Powder Room

Confession: I’m a Sitter in the Shitter

Is it better to perch on the potty, or lean over the latrine?


“You SIT??” spat my best frenemy in ninth grade. “If you sit, you are DISGUSTING.

Oh, crap! Here I was, fourteen, disgusting, and apparently clueless! She was right, though. She’d caught me, red-ass-cheeked. I was a sitter in the shitter.

Popular opinion dictates that ladies should never allow their nether regions to touch a public toilet seat—rather, we are supposed to squat and hover ABOVE the seat while peeing. For a gal like me who pees, oh, forty times a day, we’re talking perpetual workout.

After my berating, I tried to hover/squat, I really did. I’d start strong, but I’d always end up slowly sinking to the seat, giving up completely thirty seconds into the pee, voiding the entire effort along with my bladder.

I must come from a family of sitters if squatting was news to me at fourteen. Sure, I’d heard it was a “bad idea” to sit in a public restroom, and throughout my youth I’ve faced bathrooms that truly warranted the thigh-quivering effort: tailgating bathroom lines, twenty drunken frat boys deep . . . Generally, if there was a port-a-potty involved there was also alcohol, and with it my determination to hold a mid-pee plié went right in the crapper.

I gave up trying decades ago. I’ve plopped down in Vegas strip clubs and Memphis dive bars, New York City diners and several international airports. Do I fall for that modern illusion of hygiene, the paper seat cover? Ppfffft, please. We didn’t have those in the ’70s and ’80s! Those are for the new neurotics. I sat my way through the AIDS epidemic, for Christ’s sake. Introducing a flimsy tissue barrier now would be like pissing in the wind (ok, that’s three pee-puns. I’ll see myself out).

I’m glad that I never committed to the squat-pee. There is no way in HELL I could have kept that up while pregnant or later with a toddler in tow. Failure to Squat would have added another layer of anxiety to my post-partum, manic state. Do the hover on two hours sleep? No.

I often think about my old frenemy and her absolute horror that my delicate lady bits might have touched public porcelain. I know she’s not the only squatter with a superiority complex. But I won’t be caught out again. I take measures to hide my truth.

Whenever I enter a public bathroom, I side-eye the stalls. I can tell who is squatting by the placement of their shoes. It’s an aggressive stance—they really plant their feet. I try to emulate this stance while sitting, to fool other stall stalkers and because I am crazy. I promise you, I am never actually squatting, but I won’t give myself away by toe-touching the floor. It’s awkward to fully foot-plant while sitting, but I continue to do it for that hygiene-obsessed girl—even now, almost thirty years later.

I wonder if she still squats. I bet she does.

But, I’ve seen other people toe-touching—so I know I’m not the only one who is disgusting.

Jessica Ziegler’s schizophrenic, creative flailings can be found in various places around the internet: at ScienceofParenthood.com as the designer, illustrator and occasional writer where she can be as snarky as she wants, as the author and illustrator of four customizable children’s books at Storytots.com where she really needs to tone it down, and as a professional web designer and developer since 2000, where people keep insisting that she act like a grown up.

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