Men have long wondered what women do in public restrooms (besides the obvious). Sure, we gossip — but that's not all that happens in these feminine lairs.
Esther Zuckerman of the Observer writes,
There is a generally accepted practice among New York women that the bathroom is still a place to tell secrets; whether it is the best place is not something they devote much thought to. Women go into the bathroom to gossip about someone spotted at a party, divulge something to a confidante during a dinner party, or complain about a co-worker in the office stalls.
I don't really remember what it's like to have "office stalls," and really I've never been much of a restroom gossiper (I usually just blurt stuff out in public). But Zuckerman quotes Agyness Deyn, so it must be true. Still, there's so much more to the ladies' room experience than "I heard that Joanna's husband is cheating on her with I don't know who." For instance:
Asking strangers for things to put in or on your vagina.
Requesting that somebody hand toilet paper under the stall wall if you run out is pretty common. Not as common, but still pretty acceptable depending on the establishment, is cadging a spare tampon from your bathroom-mates. A little vulgar, sure, but also a bonding experience.
Taking care of people who are crying, vomiting, or both.
This is not that fun, but it is a primary function of women's bathrooms, especially at bars and especially late at night. Usually those wiping eyes, holding hair, and whispering words of encouragement are friends of the weeper/vomiter, but sometimes everybody gets involved. And while it's a little embarrassing to be the subject of such attention, it's always a relief to know that most public places contain their own built-in physical/emotional infirmaries. Sometimes they even have tissues, like your therapist's office!
Telling strangers they're beautiful.
The best-kept secret of bar ladies' rooms is that they are a great place to boost your self-esteem. Stumble in late enough at night, and odds are a girl will grab you by the face and slur, "oh my god, you are so pretty." Unlike the people who may or may not be hitting on you in the bar proper, she wants nothing in return — it's just something drunk ladies sometimes feel like saying. And while she probably can't see too well at this point in the evening, you'll hopefully be drunk enough not to care.
Image via Judy Tejero/Shutterstock.com.
Ladies Room Confidential [NY Observer]