Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Boys and Girls

Yesterday, I wrote about my girls' outing to The Connection. It was a night of many firsts, not the least of which was my introduction to the unisex bathroom. Sometimes, the smallest moments are the most memorable, so I thought I'd share.

My friends and I arrived at the club an hour and a half before the show started, so we chilled in the upstairs bar until it was time to go into the theater. For a while, we were the only people upstairs. This turned out to be a good thing for a couple of reasons. First, we had a great time with Justin, the bartender, who was bored by the lack of customers and hung out at our table with us. Good bartenders are also good conversationalists, and Justin was no exception. And second, we were introduced to the unisex bathrooms before we actually had to share them with members of the opposite sex.

Never have I been more grateful for the female mentality of going to the bathroom in packs. Three of us went in search of the bathroom. I was glad I had company. I might not have gone in by myself.

When we found it, I said, "Is it the men's or the women's?"

It had not previously occurred to me that a club hosting one of the premier drag shows in the country would not want to make gender distinctions. Amanda was more on the ball.

"It says boys and girls. I guess it's both."

"Huh? Really?"

We walked in wide-eyed, or at least I did. Amanda and Tammy perused the place like they were looking at exhibits in a museum. I ducked into the nearest stall, hoping to get in and out before a boy came in. I don't know why it freaked me out at first. I live in a house with three men, but I guess my conservative upbringing rears its head in unfamiliar situations.

When I went to sit down...or rather hover over...I was momentarily blinded. The stall contained a spotlight embedded in the floor right in front of the toilet.

"Oh my god! I'm blind!"

I could hear Amanda laughing. "I can see your silhouette on the wall."

This is where I have to pause and ask WHY?? I get the unisex bathrooms. Really, I do. But why do you need your giant urinating shadow splayed across the wall for everyone in the bathroom to see? If the locked door isn't enough of a clue that the stall is occupied, then install one of those latches that says "occupied." Don't display my hunkered down, slightly panicked crouch to the general public.

I peed as fast as humanly possible and got the hell out of the stall. Amanda was standing in front of the wall between the two stalls. It was tiled with a trench at the bottom.

"Do you think it's a urinal or just decorative?"

At this point, the ridiculousness of the whole thing hit me, and I doubled over. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to have to make another trip into the light fantastic to pee again.

We resolved to go to the bathroom in pairs and to wait until both parties were finished to leave. We borrowed a page from Pam's army book. Don't leave a man...or woman...behind. The rule was adhered to for a while, but after the show started, the bathrooms became crowded and the wait was longer. Going in pairs became inconvenient. Besides, the only lighting was in the floor in the stalls, so it was pretty dark. Half the time, I couldn't tell if the person in line beside me was a boy or a girl, and it just quit mattering very much anyway.

Pam talked to some boys in line for the stalls who told her they didn't like the urinal wall. It looked chic and trendy, but in reality was exactly like peeing on a wall, and they didn't like it. I don't want to stereotype, but I wonder if this is a gay thing. The straight men I live with have peed on a wall when necessity dictated and didn't seem particularly bothered by it. Maybe I just live with gross straight men. Cleaning up after my teenagers would suggest this is the case.

I'd like to say I'm all sophisticated and cosmopolitan now, that the next time I encounter a unisex bathroom, I'll be completely nonchalant. But in truth, a conservative upbringing is a hard thing to overcome. Unless the lighting is low and the gender lines blurred, I'll probably duck into the stall like I've committed a crime and hope my shadow doesn't give me away.

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