The Bathroom Goddess Lives in the Sprinkler Head
I’m quite sure this is true, as that’s where my gaze is naturally drawn when I enter the bathroom at work and, upon discovering that no one else is in the large, more private stall on the end, I say, “Oh thank god,” my eyes rolling heavenward. And there’s the sprinkler head directly in my line of sight.
I amend my prayer to “oh thank goddess,” when I realize that this is, after all, the ladies room. I know she’s up there, monitoring my life at work, and just when I desperately need some privacy, she usually manages to provide it. She’s a nice lady.
There’s something about having to attend to bathroom duties surrounded by co-workers, albeit behind somewhat private stall walls. I can’t fathom the whole guys-lining-up-side-by-side-at-the-urinal scenario – at least we women get some semblance of solitude. My husband has a friend with “shy-bladder syndrome” who has to have a stall. Frankly, I’m surprised this isn’t the norm, with the exceptional man being able to pee freely alongside others. (And am I the only one whose mind just flew back to the snicker-inducing title junior high schoolers tittered about, namely, Yellow River, by I.P. Freely?)
I mention “semblance of solitude” when referring to the stalls at work because whoever measured for the door placement did a lousy job (lowest bidder on a state contract!). Some of the stalls have a one-to-two-inch gap, which affords little hope that your every move won’t be accidentally observed. I say accidentally because I know of no one who would purposefully peek, but the stalls face a long mirror, and when Bertha, Belinda, or Beatrice (are those sufficiently false names?) is applying lipstick or brushing her hair, she can’t help seeing behind her. She’s probably more uncomfortable than the person seeking refuge in the stall. The outsider’s mantra is Avert your eyes, avert your eyes!, while the insider’s is Brush your hair at your desk!
I am, of course, referring to your typical American bathroom stall. I love Europe for many things, not the least of which is its gentility in the realm of public bathrooms. The vast majority of stalls across the pond not only have fully closing doors with no gaps, but they also have walls that stretch from floor to ceiling. Nothing more embarrassing than having your pants around your feet and knowing that those on either side can easily observe. If you’re a guy reading this and you’re thinking Oh c’mon, no one knows whose feet those are, you’re mistaken. Women know each other’s shoes. Those red six-inch-heel pumps were just being discussed five minutes earlier – probably behind the wearer’s back. (Girl, did you see those shoes?! What was she thinking? The last time I checked, this isn’t Saturday night clubbin’!)
Oh to have the privacy afforded the Europeans! We lost more than the civility of high tea, croquet, and je ne sais quoi when we launched this start-up country of mavericks (is it safe to use that term again without everyone conjuring a certain ex-governor?). We lost the right to five minutes of complete, unobserved solitude to do, well, you know.
But enough potty mouth for now…next week, boys and girls, we’ll talk about the “courtesy flush.”