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When A Guest Leaves The Bathroom Filled With The Scent Of Success

I have a rather distressing and slightly off-colour dilemma and I need some genuine advice.

Recently I held a Christmas party the night before Christmas Eve for a close group of friends who hadn’t yet left to travel home for the holidays. Several of my invitees were tardy confirming their attendance and were listed as ‘maybes’. It was a casual courtyard picnic so I didn’t mind, I just made lots of food to cover the ‘maybes’.

A few maybes changed their answer to ‘not coming’ on the day of the lunch, so, as I had made so much food that I didn’t want wasted, I cast the net wider and posted an open last-minute invite to my modest group of friends and acquaintances on a social networking site, hoping to add a few hungry mouths to the abundant spread, which I happily did do. Again, it was a very casual do.

However one man who was a ‘friend of a friend’ who I had never met in person expressed his interest in attending. I will call this man ‘Tom’. We had chatted online before and I while admired the work Tom did with our mutual friend, we had disagreed on some issues during discussions online and I was a little surprised he wanted to come along, especially to a small picnic where he knew no-one. But after all it was an open invite and in the spirit of the season I told Tom to come along, warning him that it was a small group of friends he would be joining.

Tom turned up on time and graciously brought me a delicious dessert to thank me for hosting, which was very lovely. He joined my friends and seemed to socialise well with them, and although one or two noted that he was ‘a little strange but a nice guy’, everything was fine.

That is until later in the evening when we played a game of ‘pass the parcel’. Part of the fun of the way we play the game is that not everybody wins, and some win multiple times, and of course some of the gifts are entirely ill-suited to their winner. We always have a hilarious time and the jostling and gift-envy is part of the fun. Bear in mind these are all trinkets priced under $5.

When the parcel came to Tom, he opened it and received a kitsch lip gloss meant for a female winner. We all had a laugh and he graciously gave the gift to one of the girls in attendance, I will call her Susy. He did not have to do this. I even took care to ask him if he didn’t have a female friend or relative to give it to, but he shrugged it off and let Susy have it.

However later in the game when the parcel stopped at Susy, she received a ‘second’ gift of a small box of chocolates. She was chuffed and we all had a laugh at her success. Tom seemed uncomfortable however. ‘I want that back now,’ he said to Susy of the gift he had given her. We all laughed, assuming he was joking – as Sally had already used it! However Tom grew visibly upset and reached out and took the lip gloss. He rolled it over in his hands, looked at it, put it down in front of Sally again, and then took it away again. Sally looked to me with surprise and I shrugged. What could I say? He was acting strangely and if he really wanted it that badly he could have it! Finally he angrily placed the lip gloss in front of Sally and asked, ‘Where can I buy one of those?’ I told him any drug store, and he folded his arms and huffed. I assume he wanted Sally to either give back his prize or swap, but frankly I didn’t feel it fair to change the rules of the game for this grumpy man who was making everyone uncomfortable over a two dollar trinket!

The rest of the evening went smoothly, and when it was winding down and several people were leaving, Tom asked ‘his lovely hosts’ (my partner and I) – which was very sweet of him to say – if he could use the bathroom. The picnic was held in our apartment’s courtyard so when someone needed to use the bathroom we would run them into the house and unlock the door, and the relock it when they were done with the bathroom. A fussy system but as we live in the city we felt it best to lock and unlock the door ourselves to ensure it was secure. Plus we were running back and forth to the house for ice and cold drinks all through the evening so people tended to just come along when I fetched something. Imperfect, but our friends are used to this as we often entertain in the courtyard.

I offered to let Tom in to the house and went to look for some candles as he used the bathroom. Five minutes went by, then ten, then finally fifteen. I had a pretty good inkling of what was happening in the bathroom after the large meal we had all shared, but was absolutely aghast. I now couldn’t leave or interrupt to give Tom the keys to lock up himself when he was done.

My partner came in looking for me when twenty minutes had passed. ‘He’s still in there!’ I said. ‘What do I do?’ At this point we started worrying that something had gone wrong in the bathroom or that he was passed out.

Finally Tom emerged 20-something minutes after he had gone in and I quickly busied myself in the cupboard. ‘Ah there are those candles, finally!’ I said. He laughed and we walked him back out. To our surprise, Tom collected his things. ‘I just came back out to say goodnight to you all,’ he said, wished everyone well, and left.

A quick visit to the bathroom after he left confirmed my concerns – he had made it very unpleasant for the rest of my guests and I used a fair bit of Febreeze to get it to a reasonable scent. I was mortified and disgusted!

At first I thought Tom was embarrassed by his bathroom adventure and left in haste, but it seems not. He posted dozens of photos of the event online that very same evening, ‘tagging’ or naming us all in them and making ‘funny’ comments.

I now do not think Tom was embarrassed at all, just the kind of brute who saved himself looking for a bathroom on the way home (he could have gone to the bar just metres from my apartment entrance) and ‘made himself comfortable’ in our bathroom before the drive home.

I am disgusted and shocked that someone could behave this way at a stranger’s home while they were entertaining! It wasn’t some mad party either. Certainly none of my friends would do this unless nature made it absolutely, unavoidably necessary – and I know them all very, very well. The fact that Tom was in there so long also makes me think he could have waited till he left to ‘relieve’ himself, which makes me even madder.

A week later, when some friends and I were very casually chatting online about perhaps getting together for New Year, Tom butted in with, ‘What time? I’ll be there.’ I simply ignored him. He did it again on New Year’s day when we were making plans to visit a friend, let’s call him Greg. ‘Look’s like it’s party at Greg’s house! I’m free!’ he wrote. He had only ever met Greg very briefly at our party! I deleted the whole conversation rather than deal with Tom.

And there lies my dilemma. I want to remove Tom from my ‘friends’ list online and have nothing further to do with him rather than have to dodge his attempts to crash every party I casually mention online. However my partner feels that would be very cruel and would hurt Tom’s feelings, leading him to assume I disliked his personality rather than something he did. He even suggested I be honest and tell Tom that I was offended by his bathroom adventure, and that is why I am deleting him! That seems extreme.

What shall I do? I know you will advise that I no longer make party plans in a public social forum, but I find it incredibly convenient and normally only friends are involved. I have a very small list of online friends, most of whom are genuine friends, but some, like Tom, I mistakenly added thinking they were closer to a mutual friend than I had assumed. I usually delete people like this but Tom has slipped through and now it seems I am stuck with him and his nasty toilet habits. 0102-12

Isn’t the purpose of a bathroom to provide a private repository of bodily effluents and gaseous effluvia?   Where did you expect a guest to do this?  While you were eating in the courtyard?    I very much doubt that Tom planned a pre-meditated assault on your bathroom.  (“Hmm, I think I’ll have beans for lunch just so I can  create the most odious gas known to man tonight.”)  The kind hostess recognizes that sometimes people have epic bowel movements and they graciously cover for their guest with ample applications of air freshener.   As the saying goes, “Sh*t happens.”  To everyone.   May some future restaurant manager or hosting friend be as equally kind to you when your turn comes.  And it will. Just live long enough.

As for Tom inviting himself to your parties, stop discussing your parties in public which you knew I’d tell you anyway.  What he doesn’t know about, he cannot invite himself.  Slowly freeze him out of your social circle which, in a few months, will make it easier to quietly delete him from your friend list.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • kelly January 31, 2012, 12:46 pm

    Lets get this straight the host gave people food and drink, only provided loo facilities that meant they had to announce to everyone they needed the loo and had to be chaperoned there and waited for, and then when someone needs the loo for a a bit more she is aghast and thinks they should have walked down the street to use a public loo? And because someone dared use the loo for the wrong number she wants to exclude them from her social circle. Perhaps he also left staright after because he still was unwell. I do not think I have heard of a worst host – resenting guests with stomach upsets from using her precious loo.
    As for the game, whatever the rules your friend should have given him the chocolates out of good manners. Accepting his prize and then sitting there like Golam with the chocolates was rude.

  • Bint January 31, 2012, 1:55 pm

    Grocery Girl: your poor friend! This somehow reminded me of the historical etiquette about ladies leaving the dinner table to go to the loo. In France the gentlemen all stood up when she left as a sign of politeness. In Britain they all remained seated because it was thought more polite to ignore why she was going!

  • Electric Bookworm January 31, 2012, 3:06 pm

    I never know when my body is going to decide to let loose. I can’t pinpoint it to specific foods because one day I can eat something and be fine then a week later eat the same thing and it goes right through me. I know I feel bad when this happens to me at a person’s home and I try to avoid foods that I think might trigger an episode.

    I think had it been another guest who did this the OP would have been more sympathetic, but since it was a person she obviously dislikes, she’s going to blow the event out of proportion.

  • SV January 31, 2012, 4:42 pm

    Okay, so no one likes to smell someone else’s poo. That’s a fact of life. However, to host a party where the guests have to actually ask to use the restroom, rather than quietly slipping out, and then have you WAIT for them while they spend time in there seems rather impolite to me. Not everyone is blessed with regular, quiet, controllable bowels and if you have a guest list of more than 3 people chances are someone will have to poop in the run of the evening. Get over it. Leave a window open, have a fan running, set a bottle of febreeze on the counter, have a scent diffuser set up….really, the possibilities are endless. A polite and kind hostess would not only pretend nothing had happened, she would make sure the guest could pretend that as well. Yes, it’s gross. Life is messy and often smells bad. Deal with it. If you do not wish to socialize with Tom because he is socially awkward or makes you uncomfortable then fine – but if your reason is actually that he used your bathroom when he needed to then I’d say he’s the one who should be searching out new friends.

  • shari January 31, 2012, 7:45 pm

    I think the OP was the rude one, when you have to go you have to go.

    Maybe he was hoping Suzy offered him the chocolates as a swap or at least one of them as a thank you for him giving her the lip gloss?

    He probably doesn’t have alot of friends but it sounds like he might be better off keeping away from the OP and her friends.

  • Anonymous January 31, 2012, 8:22 pm

    I think the OP has to be a joke. For one thing, as many people have said, using the bathroom for its intended purpose isn’t rude, but scrutinizing and judging other people’s bathroom habits is. For another thing, I always thought that Pass the Parcel was a non-competitive game–one (generic, unisex) prize per person, wrapped in multiple layers of paper, everyone ends up with something at the end. In fact, it’s a popular children’s birthday party game for precisely that reason.

    For a third thing, let me jump on the “rude to discuss private events in public” bandwagon–and, I know I might get flamed for this, but I don’t think Facebook is exempt from that. If you want to have a private event, either create a “private event” group/page, and invite only the people you want, PM only the people you want, or e-mail, snail-mail, or Harry-Potter-owl-mail only the people you want. To do otherwise reeks of an adolescent popularity contest, as in, “I’m having a party, but you’re not invited, only the COOL people are!!!” I was on the receiving end of that once, in one of the rudest/strangest ways possible. I was on MSN after school one day (that’s what people used before Facebook Chat), and this girl in my social circle, K, who wasn’t really my friend, signed on and the conversation went something like this:

    K: Hi, Anonymous.

    ME: Hi, K.

    K: I’m having a birthday party on Saturday.

    ME: Oh, well, Happy Birthday on Saturday, K. 🙂

    K: It’s by invitation only, and just for grade elevens. You can’t come, because you’re in grade twelve.

    ME: That’s fine, I’m busy on Saturday anyway, I’m playing at the charity walk with the band.

    K: Well, I just wanted you to know, so you don’t come uninvited with any of our mutual friends.

    So, long story short–K was rude, and so was the OP.

  • Amy January 31, 2012, 8:32 pm

    Another quick one about the “Bathroom Gestapo” girls- I can recall a very similar conversation- she was bursting for the loo but refused to use the work toilets. I asked her why, she said she would rather hold it in and go at home! So I asked her what she would do if she was stuck in the middle of a forest, completely alone, with no toilets for miles, and she was desperate to go. (Just a hypothetical question) She said she would still not go, even if there was no-one to see her! I said, what if you were in that isolated forest for days on end? She said she still would hold it in!

    I really cannot understand why people find having a poo so disgusting. It’s natural. Some people must have the mentality of a 3-year-old! :/

  • grumpy_otter January 31, 2012, 8:51 pm

    I kind of feel like the people who were upset by the recent discussions of animal cruelty–maybe a warning before everyone begins discussing their bowel habits in detail?

    JK–I love the “support” the OP has received.

  • The Elf February 1, 2012, 9:35 am

    Amy, I don’t get it either, but people only going at home is not unusual. I know several people who would rather be uncomfortable and hold it than use a bathroom at someone’s house or (horrors!) a public restroom. I know because I’ve been with them when they’ve cut an outing short and we’re close enough that they told me why. Me, I’ll pop a squat in the woods much more readily than use some toilets I’ve seen! Most people are probably in the middle somewhere regarding “poop shame”. But even if you are someone who has definite bathroom preferences, I always thought it was widely understood that it was your personal thing, not an etiquette thing!

    I think Electric Bookworm (love your name!) is right: if this had been anyone else, she wouldn’t have been bothered. But because it was Tom, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

  • Sara February 1, 2012, 9:43 am

    I’m going to add my vote to those who think the OP was actually the rude one here.

    To have a “bathroom moment” that takes twenty minutes tells me that Tom’s stomach was probably bothering him–to be in the bathroom, dealing with that and knowing that the host is standing outside waiting for him to be done? That must have been horribly uncomfortable for him and I don’t blame him for leaving right after. It sounds like he managed to have a good time otherwise, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with posting pictures from the party on Facebook.

    As far as him “inviting himself” to subsequent social events, I’ve always been taught that it’s incredibly rude to talk about a gathering in front of people who aren’t invited. If the conversation was as I imagine it, Tom probably assumed that since you were discussing a get-together at Gary’s house with him present, that he was invited. I would have assumed the same and I wonder why you would continue to place him in this position of being involved in a conversation about a party to which he is not invited. Again, it seems that the OP is the rude one here, not Tom.

    The thing with the lip gloss, granted is a little weird. But that’s the only place where I see Tom behaving in a less-than-gracious manner, and I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and guess that he wasn’t being intentionally rude, just a little socially awkward.

  • bees February 1, 2012, 12:15 pm

    He is a guy that you really don’t know IRL. He proves himself to not know the norm for social interactions while the group is there.
    At the end of the party he leaves the group and locks himself in the bathroom. For Twenty minutes.
    Was he waiting for the others to leave?
    Creepy creepy creepy. You are lucky the cause was only a prolonged nature call.
    As for the lipgloss, he could have just been hinting for the chocolates, poorly but understandably.
    By the end of the story I wasn’t willing to call him inept, just creepy.

  • AIW February 1, 2012, 5:46 pm

    I think the OP was the rude one here.

    Grousing because a guest had to use your bathroom? Grow up. If you don’t want to invite Tom to your functions, don’t invite him, and don’t publish an invite where he will see it.

    If you don’t want people crapping in your toilet, don’t host functions at your home.

  • Smiling Charmer February 1, 2012, 6:28 pm

    This has got to be one of the most absurd submmitions to Ehell. Seriously. I’m so glad we get to read everybody’s comments, because, for a terrifying moment, I was sitting here absolutely horrified thinking of all the THOUSANDS of times I used friends’ bathrooms not knowing I was being etiquette challenged!

    I wonder… maybe the OP’s bowel movements smell of roses????!!!!

  • Cordelia February 1, 2012, 11:55 pm

    Joining the overwhelming majority on the subject, OP is quite rude. Tom’s transgressions are comparatively minor next to his impolite host.

    It is rude to have someone participate in a gift exchange without everyone participating ending up with something. A mixed-gender game should not include gender-specific presents. It is rude of Tom to make a big deal about it, but the OP and Suzy precipitated that rudeness, OP by setting up an unfair game, and Suzy by not rectifying the unfairness when it was in her power to do so.

    For further clarification on why poor Tom would need to use the bathroom, OP should consult the definitive work on the subject, “Everybody Poops”.

    Since I didn’t see any other comments dealing with this, I want to add that a host should not impose on a commercial establishment for bathroom usage, unless it’s an emergency (your only toilet is hopelessly clogged and you can’t fix it yourself, etc.). Not only is it very rude and inhospitable to your guests not to let them use your bathroom, it’s also rude to the business to have your guests use their bathroom and not buy anything.

    Also, someone has to clean that bathroom, too. So, OP, you say it’s rude for someone to stink up your bathroom, but it’s okay to allow the tavern’s janitorial staff to experience that unpleasantness instead? If you can’t deal with gas, why should they?

  • Goldie February 2, 2012, 4:17 pm

    @ Cordelia, me-me-me! I left a comment dealing with this! I, like you, was shocked that the OP treats a nearby bar as her spare bathroom. Can you imagine if every tenant on the block’s guests start barging into that poor bar? I say the bar should reciprocate and encourage their patrons to go use the OP’s bathroom when there’s a line at the one in the bar. After all, the OP’s apartment is just metres from the bar’s entrance.

  • Anonymous February 2, 2012, 6:20 pm

    About the bathroom thing, I think the setup of the apartment building is a bit inconvenient, from the OP’s description. She says there’s an outdoor courtyard area, so wouldn’t it make sense for that area to be adjacent to an indoor common room/party room type of thing, with bathroom facilities in or near that room? That’d circumvent the whole issue of having to escort outdoor party guests back to the apartment when they had to use the bathroom, and it’d also make it easier for the residents of the apartment building to entertain indoors, when the weather is poor, or if they’re hosting a large movie night or Wii tournament or something else. Actually, I’d think this setup would be even weirder if there is an indoor common area, but it’s nowhere near the courtyard.

  • Cordelia February 3, 2012, 10:54 am

    Yay, Goldie! Sorry I missed your post the first time.

  • Kaytie February 3, 2012, 1:43 pm


    As someone who suffers from an illness which causes me to experience alternate bouts of unexpected constipation or (quite immediate, no-time-to-run-down-the-street-to-the-public-pub-loo) diarrhea, I condemn you to e-hell and hope to never meet or visit you in real life.

  • OP February 5, 2012, 5:25 pm

    OP here. I have since discussed this with friends and they agree I was being harsh. I think what it came down to is that I didn’t like Tom one bit, and my suspicions about him have since been confirmed. We’ve ceased our brief friendship, and I’ve gotten a spare key and set up a better system for use of the bathroom when we are hosting outdoors.

  • OP February 5, 2012, 5:27 pm

    Ps. Anon, the courtyard is two floors down from my apartment and there is no common area or bathroom adjacent for public use.

  • OP February 5, 2012, 5:30 pm

    Ps. Everyone does get a gift in the game, but for a laugh some are innapropriate and therefore particpants can swap.

  • Kate February 7, 2012, 9:17 pm

    The lip gloss thing was rude, but the bathroom thing was quite possibly unavoidable.
    I have IBS and when I feel sick, there is no ‘wait till the party’s over and find a bathroom on the way home’. You have to use the bathroom and you have to stay there until you feel able to leave. If that takes half an hour and is unpleasant to smell afterwards, imagine how unpleasant it is to BE the person who is stuck in the bathroom feeling absolutely revolting.

  • Janet February 8, 2012, 6:18 am

    I had no idea that some people were bothered by guests using their toilets for their intended purposes! If I need to go to the toilet, I’m going to do so. I’m not bothered by friends using my toilet, we have air freshener in there, plus they can crack the window if need be.

    The pass the parcel thing was a bit weird, but the bathroom thing is fine! I was expecting for him to have come out of the bathroom and having feces smeared all over the walls, that would have justified the OP’s complaints!

  • Lex February 10, 2012, 6:24 pm

    I agree with the overwhelming majority of posters here. OP was rude. Apart from the minor social faux-pas of the lip gloss incident, ‘Tom’ appeared to behave very well – he brought a gift to the party that was appropriate to the occasion and, as the OP admits, was delicious. He was polite and took the time to thank and compliment his hosts.

    I feel very sorry for ‘Tom’ – imagine the shame he felt sitting in your bathroom for 20 minutes KNOWING you were outside waiting for him. Poor man! Regardless of whether he was ill, has a condition or simply needed to go, he would have been well aware of the smell and probably burning with embarrassment about it! The OP makes little reference to any ‘cleaning’ she had to do – did he leave the toilet clean? I assume so otherwise I am certain the OP would have made mention of it.

    Now, compare this to the delivery driver that delivered my sofa – guy knocks on the door, begins to unload my suite off his lorry with his companion, gets it out of the truck and standing in the road, then asks to use my bathroom. Is in there for an uncomfortably long time in which I have to make small talk with his assitant and find him a drink (Sofa still in the middle of the road at this point). Delivery driver comes down, delivers suite, has to report a broken panel, leaves. I go up to my toilet to find faeces smeared EVERYWHERE – the toilet is blocked, he has used the brush and it is coated in mess and toilet paper, there is brown smears on my toilet mat and on the inside of the door….

    Did the OP find her toilet in this state? Doesn’t sound like it. It sounds to me as though ‘Tom’ tried to hint about the fairness of gift exchange and bodged it then backed himself into a corner he couldn’t think quickly enough to escape and to justify picking up the lip gloss, he made up something about buying one. A bit daft, but harmless-sounding.

    If the OP doesn’t like Tom, fine, but don’t hide behind invented social slights as an excuse to exclude him. Be upfront and honest – to be two-faced is both rude and unfair.

    Re photo comments – text on a screen has no tone or context. What probably sounded witty in his head probably read a bit childishly to others. Especially to the OP who already admitted she doesn’t like him and is clearly looking for an excuse to exclude him. Especially if he’s a bit socially inept.

  • Allie February 13, 2012, 11:57 pm

    Delete and done. Tom is not your responsibility, and this isn’t kindergarten. He’ll get over it.

  • VorFemme February 23, 2012, 2:57 pm

    I got the impression that it was the way he wanted the first “prize” back ( lip gloss that had now been used) when the person won a prize of their own. Not just the way the bathroom smelled……….or how long he spent in it………..

    It was his treating a NEW group as if they were going to have to put up with however HE felt like acting (and his words & actions over the lip gloss were…….odd to more than just the hostess) then expecting to become a instant central member of the group based on the one invitation to what was essentially an “open house” for the holiday season………….but in the back yard with barbeque instead of snacks inside the house for people to drop in for a short visit then leave.

    Unless you are at least engaged (or the equivalent) to a family member – you don’t get to just become an instant member of the “family” (whether a social group of long standing or actual relatives by blood & marriage). Tom is not engaged or married to any of the “family” in this social circle – he just wants to be/expects to be invited to everything.

    The short term solution is to stop inviting people on an open forum until he can be dropped. Another possibility would be to take it to one of the social sites that lets you send group invitations and leave his name off the group in the NEW site’s list. He won’t be added and shouldn’t be able to add himself……….

    But changing venues on the web is a little more trouble that dropping him from the social site – I can see where someone would rather not change “how they’ve done it for years” nor seem to incite drama by dropping him from the list………..especially if he would be able to make a stink about it on his own “page”. Because he does sound like he might be inclined to make comments on his page about being dropped from “the group”……………based on his rather odd actions over the lip gloss and the chocolate in the game at the one event that he went to.

  • Angela March 7, 2012, 3:39 am

    Just put a can of air fresh in your bathroom and all is fine!

  • Joe June 26, 2012, 11:03 pm

    I seem to be the only one who read this and reached the assumption the “disgusting” behaviour was masturbation. I assumed this based on the euphemisms of ‘made himself comfortable’ and ‘relieved’. As I am not used to juvenile euphemisms for defecation, perhaps I reached the wrong conclusion?

  • Tim August 3, 2012, 11:40 am

    I’m late to the game, but I agree that the OP was the rude one. I do have one point for the OP.

    Your original post, “Part of the fun of the way we play the game is that not everybody wins, and some win multiple times, and of course some of the gifts are entirely ill-suited to their winner”

    Rebuttle to comments, “Ps. Everyone does get a gift in the game, but for a laugh some are innapropriate and therefore particpants can swap.”

    You contradict yourself. When called upon the way your game was played, you back peddled and stated the opposite.

    I’m sorry, but I agree with pp that people need to use the restroom, and they need not be shamed because of that.

  • Cat September 27, 2012, 10:10 pm

    There is a really great product on the market right now you place just a few drops of in in the toilet before someone uses it and there is no smell. I usually put a few drops in before my guests arrive as we have a small living space and it has saved the day more than once.

  • Cat September 27, 2012, 10:13 pm

    I think it is called “Courtesy Flush”