August 2, 2004

10 Things I Learned from the Toilets of New York

1) Osteria Stella is a fabulous Italian Restaurant in New York with the standard number of restrooms (two), divided by sex and neatly labeled. In Italian. Which I do not speak.

2) Two semesters of college Spanish and three years of high school Latin don’t really help a person decipher whether donne (which looks sort of like “dame”) or uomini (which looks sort of like “women”) means “Ladies’ Room.”

3) It isn’t Uomini.

4) Any architect worth his salt is going to put the urinals against the BACK WALL of the men’s room. Not the side wall. Certainly not the side wall right in front of the door.

5) The architect who designed the men’s room at Osteria Stella is NOT worth is salt.

6) The surprised man who was using the urinals at Osteria Stella was emphatically not Jewish.

7) Contrary to my previously held beliefs, it IS possible to leap four feet up and six feet backwards while wearing two hundred dollar shoes with three inch heels.

8) It is not possible to learn ten things from a toilet. Even a New York toilet.

9) You can only learn about seven or maybe eight things. Then you have to PAD to finish out your list.

10) I would have learned more things – apparently there was some fantastical art waterfall in the lobby men’s room at my hotel, but I forgot to sneak in and look. Bah. Or maybe I was afraid. I DID go in the women’s room in the hotel lobby and OH. MY. GOODNESS. This was soon after my misadventures in wiener-seeing at Osteria Stella, and I opened the door and there STOOD A MAN IN THERE. He mercifully had his pants zipped up. After a moment of panic, I realized he was cleaning the mirrors. SO. We stood there looking at each other for a second. Then we scootched past each other doing the face-to-face tippy-toe dance because the room was so narrow.

The hotel was mod and hip and funky. I took some pics of it (getting developed), but you can get an idea HERE..

The ladies’ room was about half the width of a standard hallway but twice as TALL. It was lined on one side by shallow bowl-like sinks and the opposite wall was made entirely out of a floor to ceiling mirror. It was starkly and dramatically lit. There were no visible toilets or stalls.

I stood staring blankly around the room, looking for a lever that would cause a hidden toilet to pop up out of the floor or for some structure that was actually a toilet cleverly disguised as artsy-fartsy-ness. There was a long narrow vase against the back wall, but it looked difficult to sit on and plus too it had reeds in it. Finally, in desperation, I pressed one finger on the floor-to-ceiling glass wall. It gave. Behind the nine-foot-tall, one-foot-wide mirror door was a TINY CUBICLE with just enough room for a toilet and my knees. I got in, the door closed behind me, and I stared up at the teeny square of distant ceiling as the walls pressed in around me and I thought, “I am going to die in here. This is a long vertical coffin and I will die here. DIE. HERE. ON THIS TOILET. HERE IS WHERE I DIE.”

Obviously I made it out alive, but the tenth thing I learned from the toilets of New York is actually this: No matter how hip and mod and funky or European and sophisticated you are, when it comes to the ladies’ bathroom, you should rein yourself in and commit to plain regular normal stalls and then stick a picture of a chick on the outer door. Really.

Posted by joshilyn at August 2, 2004 9:47 AM

Posted by: Dark Lord Fancy Pants at August 2, 2004 12:50 PM

I could have told you all that ;)

Posted by: AGK at August 2, 2004 2:16 PM

LOL!!! I hate stuff like that. ACK

Posted by: Tiff at August 2, 2004 5:39 PM

That was a great story almost as touching as Tuesdays with Morrie. Cetainly more interesting.

Posted by: julie at August 8, 2004 2:00 AM

Ok I'm with you - now take the 10 things you learned and transport them to beijing. Where they don't just not tell you which room is which but where they provide no toilet, or door, or, shall we say, ACCESSORIES to guide you through the process. Only a hole in the ground and a "good luck!" There. Now you have an accurate picture of my time there AND you feel better about yourself. My work is done.

Posted by: Amy at August 21, 2004 8:28 PM