here is a subject we just don't hear enough about: pooping in a public place. i have always just assumed that everyone else is as horrified as i am to feel that terrible jolting twist in the stomach when shopping, at a movie, at target, at a restaurant, even at a good friend's house. not so. ever been inside a women's public restroom? enough said. my fear of pooping started very early in life. it was my misfortune to share part of my bedroom wall with our upstairs bathroom. every morning, EVERY MORNING, for my whole life, my father would spend some time in that bathroom. he used to drink over 20 cups of coffee a day, and he had a healthy appetite. let's just say that i did not need an alarm clock. when i was in junior high, my parents went through a wheat germ phase. wheat germ is like prunes, only worse. every single thing we ate had wheat germ sprinkled on it. liberally sprinkled. five people, two bathrooms. not enough. although my father had no qualms about pooping at home, he could not poop anywhere else. on sundays, our whole family would go to church in the morning, and then we would join our extended family at my grandmother's house where she made the most fantastic spaghetti and meatballs for lunch. and garlic bread. god, that was good stuff. but i digress. we would have to take two cars to church, one with my dad in it, and one with my mom and us kids. why? because immediately after lunch at my grandmother's, my dad would drive home and poop. so this public fear took deep root. i would go away to camp as a kid, and would refuse to poop for the whole week. i didn't eat much on thursdays and fridays. when i became an adult, a few things happened. i got a job, and i learned that i liked to have some drinks at night. because i worked in restaurants, working lunches was not that big of a deal, ususally there was a private employee bathroom, and if you timed it right, everything would be okay. until i worked at sapor. this restaurant was (and still is) located in an office building, and you had to go down the hall to use the restroom which served the entire building. not a busy building, so it was usually okay until one day, after drinks the night before, and then a little lunch, i was having an emergency. i was walking down the hall, stiffly, when i met jessica, our chef, on the way. i told her that she was not allowed to go to the bathroom right now because i really, really, needed to poop. she said, too bad, i really have to pee, so what if you have to poop? i told her that i had some shame, and what if it made some noise? she asked me if i would like for her to sing to me while we were in adjacent stalls so that nothing could be heard. i accepted, because clearly, i had no choice. so she sang while i pooped. i don't see her much anymore, but i still love her for that to this day. the reason this subject comes up today, is because my friend told me a personal pooping story that happened to her just the other day. there is a place here called the midtown global market. it's kind of like an open air market, but inside. lots of little shops, and places to eat. on the floor below, there is the dmv and some other random rooms. on this particular day, (let's call her amy) amy was attending a class on the lower floor for first-time home buyers, because she wants to buy a house. the class lasted all day long, and although she didn't tell me this part, i know she likes wine, and i am guessing that she had some the evening before the class. on the lunch break, amy goes upstairs and finds a cute little place called the salty tart. it's owned by a woman who used to make pastries at charlie trotter's in chicago, and amy bought a pastry, and while she was waiting, picked up a beautiful glossy pamphlet about the woman and her shop. she ate her pastry, and was delighted because it was so delicious. but then. the twisting. she ran to the restroom, and gratefully found and open stall. she read the pamphlet. and then she looked for the toilet paper. there was none. then she looked under the stall at the woman's feet next to her, and heard a sound. thump, thump, thump. the woman next to her was also out of toilet paper. so she half pulled up her pants and hobbled like a convict in shackles to the other stalls. nope. then she says to me, "HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO WIPE YOUR ASS WITH A GLOSSY PAMPHLET? " i have not, and this is why i stay at home.