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Bar bathroom chat: a female-specific phenomena

Meghan Dorn

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I have an odd amount of party stories that take place in women’s bar bathrooms around midnight – like the time I opened a stall to find two girls braiding a third’s hair while she bawled her eyes out because she had seen a puppy that was “too precious” earlier that day. Or when I stood in line next to a girl who pulled a full pepperoni calzone out of her purse and offered me some. Or when someone asked for beer money from another girl who responded, “I’m just a poor boy, from a poor family,” and the entire bathroom continued into a full blast “Bohemian Rhapsody” harmony.

Bar bathrooms are such odd spaces where most rules of civilized society seem to be thrown out the window. First off, they are universally disgusting. There just always seems to be water on the floor, and one stall is always out of toilet paper, and one door is broken so you have to recruit a friend (or a new bathroom friend) to hold it closed for you. And everyone seems to be fine with this condition of pure filth because they want this to be over as soon as possible to get back to the party.

Secondly, everyone in bar bathrooms seems to be absolutely fine with being best friends for at least five minutes while you wait in line. Very little small talk – right to the point with sharing relationship issues, opinions on smells and giving the most generous compliments possible.

You can accredit some of this camaraderie to the blood alcohol content levels of the group in the bathroom, but I think the nature of the space has a role to play too. By entering a bathroom you have separated yourself from the core of the party, but you can still hear the band in the distance and can easily catch the comments said around you. So the energy is still high, but you are now shoved into close proximity with strangers that you can hear, unlike the passing space of the dance floor. Also you are brought together by navigating the filth of the place by advising one another on “this stall has no TP” or the “I’ll hold the door for you if you hold it for me” negotiations.

Talking to my male friends, the women’s bar bathroom seems to be a gender specific phenomenon. They talk of quicker trips and silence, no lingering that leads to the development of great bar bathroom stories. And also, not every women’s room experience leads to instant friendship; it can also lead to instant aggression. One well-placed side eye and a quick retort can escalate very quickly with the wrong two individuals.

I think it is interesting to consider this funny little space as we go about our day and the other areas that we interact with. No one will start offering you a calzone as you sit in your political science class. No one will be braiding a crying girl’s hair on the steps of Gorgas. And people absolutely would not join in with you for “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the middle of Bruno. Sometimes you have to appreciate these funny little areas where the traditional rules go out the window, and smile along with it.

Meghan Dorn is a senior majoring in political science and public relations. Her column runs weekly.

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Bar bathroom chat: a female-specific phenomena