Ahhh, the public toilet cubicle - a veritable Tardis of germs and horror for some, but also the Promised Land for others if peristalsis, party drugs or promiscuity have got the better of you.

We've all been stalled - at one time or another - and many of you no doubt have coping mechanisms with which to keep the fruits of others' labours from coming into contact with your person.

I certainly do and often feel as dexterous as a double-amputee who can tie his shoelaces and text with his elbows as I manipulate doors and taps without using my hands.

It struck me this month, while flushing with my foot in a petrol station dunny, that public toilets are probably the dirtiest places we regularly endure in our lives (if you don't work at Parliament House).

From the receptacles for needles and discarded feminine hygiene products, to the raunchy "Wipe-on Sex Appeal" dispenser offering "pheromones" and the dented ribbed-condom vending machine, the public toilet is also a repository of our dirty little secrets.

What goes on in the thunderboxes of a local pub or public library would make a fascinating movie, though I seem to remember that Grinspoon's music video for their song Hard Act to Follow was set in toilet stalls, which pretty much covered the gamut of behaviour therein, so I won't be rushing my funding application off to Screen Australia.

Until recently, I'll admit I viewed public toilets with something approaching disdain, a refuge for my own dirty little secrets. However, now I'm a parent, I see them as an oasis of cool porcelain, bad poetry and, hopefully, disconnected phone numbers.

There are many things that surprise when you become a parent, but one of the more confronting for single dads like myself is what to do with your toddler when you [not they] need to poop.

Rooted to the toilet seat, it is near-impossible to leap up and follow a toddler as they meander into the lounge room to lick a power point, and bunging them into their cot can spark furious disputation (crying) - which is not the greatest soundtrack for a number two.


However, even this option is rendered moot if you're out with your child, happily drinking your second coffee for the morning and get the thunder down under, announcing your intestines have also woken for work.

Thus you take your child and lock them in the cubicle with you - God help you if you have twins - and discourage their wide-eyed exploration of the aforementioned needle receptacle and sanitary disposal bin.

As they festoon toilet paper around them like a gymnast with a ribbon and attempt to crawl next door to visit the man wearing Grosby trainers and black socks, you wonder if this is how it started for those teenagers pictured unconscious in cubicles on Facebook.

Have I planted a bleak seed?

This is why it's always wise to occupy a corner stall so you only have one neighbour to worry about and to leave wondering why the man in the next cubicle is saying: "Baby, don't put that in your mouth."

Another "pressure point", if I may call it that, is to always check your chosen stall for paper, because if there's one thing worse than being stuck in a toilet cubicle with an unruly toddler, it's having to navigate to the one next door with your pants around your ankles.

If all goes well, and your child can be discouraged from slam dunking your car keys or iPhone into the black waters between your legs, you flush (with your elbow) and wash your hands without the kid reconnoitering the underpants visible under doors two and three.

It is then you become the most-loathed of public toilet users - the slipstreamer - as you wait for another patron to open the door with their hand and you and your child can then follow them into fresh air without doing the same.

Then it's time for another coffee.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here.