Thursday, April 28, 2011

Life in the Ladies Room

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I have experienced the impulse to "pummel" others waiting in line in theaters supermarkets buffets doctors offices receiving lines places of worship public bathrooms. That was somewhat of an exaggeration. I don't want to pummel them. All I really want to do is pee.

Waiting in line for a stall -- and life in the ladies room, in general -- can be a complex affair.

It often begins with the initial surprise received after you stride towards the swinging door marked "Ladies," (or, if you visit a specific BBQ joint in the mid west, it will actually say "Sows" on the door. If it hadn't said Pigs" on the men's room, I might have gotten mad) confident that you will soon be experiencing sweet relief.

You barrel in and --wham!-- are stunned to be met with the grim faces of a line of women in various stages of discomfort.

Often the line snakes by the mirrors. The older women (myself included) tend to look away from our fluorescently illuminated imperfections while the younger set seeks the reflection that assures them they still look better than the older set. "Just wait, bitches", the older set thinks in return....but our faces remain impassive. We've learned to give nothing away.
All we really want is clean...

As we edge toward the front of the line, we become hyper vigilant.

Determined to catch sight of the next empty stall, we lean slightly forward so we can rush toward it as much out of a sense of honor ("Yes, I was paying attention at this important moment!") as the increasing need to go tinky-winkles.

No one wants to be the woman who doesn't immediately spot the stall door swing open.

That woman is then subjected to a chorus of impatient but controlled voices: "There's one...yoohoo, there's an open one!" What we'd really like to say is "Wake up, lady, before we trample you!"
...but we don't mind fancy.
But we don't. We smile indulgently as the less than vigilant scurries, in shame, to her destination. Though we try to be alert, we are all potentially her and we know it.

Women in public bathrooms are pretty cool, for the most part.

We don't mind passing toilet paper under the partition and if someone enters in a state or emergency, once we establish it's genuine (rolling eyes like a terrified racehorse and a sheen of cold sweat are imperative before we let you through), we will happily allow you ahead of us.
Said it was an emergency when it wasn't.

Years ago, I was in just such a state driving home on a holiday weekend.
The Jersey Turnpike had been backed up and I'd missed the ramp for a rest stop.

I ran as fast as one can run with knees clamped together only to find a long line blocking my way.

I don't remember exactly what I said but suddenly the sea of women parted and I was allowed to rush into the next available stall. It was a moment of pure sisterhood

And yes, we do notice those who choose to bypass the sink. After all, we cannot be sure you have a bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse. And we do flush with our feet.

We also love to find a public bathroom that has an individual sink in every stall. This way we can examine our pores, teeth and nostrils in blessed private. 

We don't like to find any "surprises" in the stall and can react testily under certain circumstances. But, for the most part, it's a pretty civilized atmosphere in women's bathrooms.

I always swear that next time there's a long line I'm going to dart into the men's room if it's empty. But not only do I have a fear of urinals (they look too much like spaceships) but I have no idea what the rules are in there.


  1. Rule #1: Don't piss and chat. At least, that's what I hear from all my dude friends.

    That's all the rules I know :D

  2. You are fortunate to have had mostly civilized public bathroom experiences ... you must not have gone to the UA in theaters in Astoria Queens. Everything plays out exactly as you describe above until we dart to the stall and notice that it's completely clogged with surprises, the next stall has a rim decorated with sprinkles of yellow liquid, the third has water all over the floor and the fourth with all the toilet paper rolled off and on the floor is clearly the preferable of the four. It happened more than once. And one can argue that maybe they can't afford to pay help 24/7 but who are these women who can leave a stall looking anything like that? I shudder....

  3. I personally have the bladder of a smallish squirrel and can proudly admit to using the mens restroom on more than one occasion. When I have to go, I have TO GO.

    Trust me, the women's rooms are MUCH nicer. With the one exception of...well, you know..."establishments of female nakedness," where one should always forgo the womens restroom in favor of the mens, NO MATTER WHAT.

  4. The men in my life confirm that rule, Katie!!

    And Cat, if it weren't for my fear of being transported to a distant planet by one of the urinals, I'd check it out for myself!

  5. Anna! How nice to see you here! I have experienced simialr horrors and often wonder the same. Those are not the surprises we want.

    These days, some stalls don't have hooks for pocketbooks which adds to the misery.