The Bunny Freeze

March 20, 2001

Some call it stage fright, some call it a nervous bladder. I call it The Bunny Freeze.

It used to happen to me any time another person walked into the public bathroom, or if I knew someone with whom I was not perfectly comfortable could hear me peeing in a house. My bladder simply revolted. It would not perform a function I have done several times a day since day one. It would not obey a simple command to let go. It would not, no matter how persuasive I was, do what it was designed to do.

It's a horrible thing, and in women's public restrooms, it is not uncommon. Worse, it is contagious. Say a woman goes into the bathroom and is just settling down to do her routine thing. Another woman comes in at the same time, so they are both sitting down at approximately the same moment. Say either one of them has a shy bladder. Say either one of them can't pee right then. Then...if the other woman is susceptible, The Waiting begins.

The both sit in absolute silence, waiting for the other one to start first. Neither one can. Their bladders have frozen, and they sit, bunny-like, unmoving, barely breathing, desperately trying to pee. And failing. This can last upwards of 5 minutes, and sometimes, they just give up and leave, figuring they'll come back later when no one is around.

Some just sit and wait. Search teams occasionally must be dispatched.

Worse, (and I may get my women's card revoked for revealing that women must also (though only on rare occasion) defecate) is when one has to have a bowel movement. The Wait can go on indefinitely. Part of this is sheer courtesy - we don't want to subject the other bathroom patrons to the potential stench and sounds of our doings. It is polite to simply wait until the other people leave the room. But, somtimes, they won't leave. They fix their make-up, or do their hair, or sit there waiting for you to start so they can do their thing, too. Bunnies.

The most amusing is The Person Who Thinks She Is Invisible. I used to be one of these women, by the way. I figured if someone came in after me, and I was all settled in but hadn't started yet, I could just bunny freeze and they wouldn't notice me. If I made no sound at all, did not move, did not breathe audibly, they would come in and leave without so much as noticing that another human is in there. I see a lot of women do this, and this is the true, pure, bunny freeze, attempting to become invisible and unnoticed. It doesn't work, generally, because a.) people notice the closed door, b.) they see your feet, or c.) they generally sense that someone else is in the room, depending on how large the bathroom is. But the pure bunny freezer can throw off all but the most confident of pee-ers. It fucks up the whole peeing process for most of us, beause we know someone is there, listening, concentrating on us, willing us to leave...and then we get The Vicarious Bunny Freeze ourselves. It has only been recently that I'm able to overcome this particular obstacle, but now I revel in walking in on a bunny freezer, immediately being able to pee, and leaving quickly and confidently. It's silly, but it's liberating. The tyranny of my bladder has been broken, woohoo.

At lunch, I mentioned to Heather that I was writing this bit. She and I have discussed this before, and she calls it The Duel. Rather appropriate name, that, for it is indeed a contest. She has a particularly difficult time with another woman in our building - they hate each other most of the time, and apparently wind up in the bathroom together with frequency. Sometimes, apparently this other girl just gives up and storms out in a huff, and Heather wins.

We women are strange creatures. Most men I know can walk into the bathroom, take the smelliest, nastiest, noisiest shit, come out and resume and conversation as if nothing had happened in the interval, when the rest of the people in the room are like "COR!! what did you EAT?!?!?!" but are too polite to say so.

But alright, before I give you psychoanalysts any more material to work with...

Paging Dr. Freud, Dr. Freud to the white courtesy telephone, please!