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The Ruined Restroom: A Psychological Assay, Sociological Cross-Section, and Parable of Lost Innocence

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– Eli Goodman

The experience is as scarring as it is universal – you’re out to dinner with a plump, illiterate overcoat model from Brussels. Just as the fois gras variety pack arrives, you excuse yourself to the restroom. This being a restaurant that has received numerous stars and even more numerous accolades[1] from the gourmand community on the whole, you would expect the restroom to be of impeccable quality and stateliness. You would expect a basic level of civility to be employed by occupants of said restroom. You would expect a notable absence of overweight, impetuous children and frothing, neurotic dogs. You would, however, be sorely disappointed. What you see before you is Sodom, Hades, Nicaragua, and East L.A. forged into a nauseating spectacle of pain and humiliation. It is the Restroom, and it is a Hell of mankind’s own hubristic makings.

The modern restroom is, without fail, one of the most degrading and unholy scenes imaginable by the human mind. Lepers moan and caress the legs of those seated in stalls. Homosexual provocateurs shout Marxist slogans while urinating freely. Crooked businessmen sign bloated, dense contracts in an orgiastic frenzy of fountain pen ink. Short order cooks baste pheasants in the filthy basins. Teenagers, drunk on malt liquor and prescription cough syrup, use the hand dryers provided for Your Convenience to extract psychoactive chemicals from Milky Way candy bars[2]. Every variety of sexual fetish is indulged, every bizarre compulsion sated, every disruptive personality type tolerated. If a society’s health is gauged by its restrooms, ours could accurately be diagnosed as a cancer-riddled flea bag old lady who has just thrown up a lung and then eaten that same lung and then fell down from diabetes.

In this series of article, I intend to explore the historical precedent that has allowed our restrooms to reach such a state of malevolent anarchy; then, I present a vision of better days to come. I believe that we might change the fate of this nation’s restrooms, but only then can the true healing begin. Together, let us take the first step towards Equality, Justice, and True Health.

Part 1: A Personal Anecdote

My awareness of this nation’s restroom Situation began on a day that will permanently tattooed upon my memory: July 15th, 2008. I was attending the opening of a sophisticated, upscale Mongolian/Nuevo-Welsh fusion joint on Manhattan’s upper west side. Genetically engineered cocktails were flowing freely, hors d’oeuvres were being hidden in secretive locations around the room, and celebrities were being placed in translucent plexiglass cases for our amusement[3]. It was exactly what a posh restaurant opening should be.

I firmly believe that an open bar should be neglected by no man, and I was doing my best to incur financial damage to the institution that was so graciously hosting me for the evening. I had put away a goodly number of Gastrotinis[4], and was feeling the pull of the restroom. I dismissed a Ukrainian head of state (with whom I was speaking) with a curt and insulting hand motion, fell out of my seat, and stumbled gracefully towards the restroom.

I was immensely relieved to find that the restroom was of the variety that only accommodates one inhabitant, and this put me at ease. However, I know now that such an arrangement only incurs a false sense of security, and that no restroom is free from the horror of the modern world. At the time, though, I was young and naïve, and I really let myself unwind.

This particular restroom was an impressive piece of work. The floor was a solid slab of black marble, etched with cryptic heiroglyphs and erotic depictions of the pantheon of Norse gods. The toilet was an unrefined chunk of basalt, mined from the core of an active volcano; the ravages of mother nature had molded it into an ideal perch for relieving oneself. The room was lit entirely by rapidly decaying, highly carcinogenic radioactive particles, which gave off a homey, rustic glow. Set into the wall was a bank of high-resolution LCD screens, each showing looped footage of primitive reptiles mating. After a lengthy and satisfying urination[5], I stepped up to the laboratory-grade mirror to refresh my follicles[6]. It was in the middle of this most satisfying ritual, however, that my love affair with restrooms came crashing down around me.

Without warning, the bank of screens all flashed to an important news bulletin. A swarthy, stuttering newscaster proclaimed, in a voice that wavered on the verge of weeping, that two of the nation’s most notorious smugglers of high-grade oxygen had been apprehended only seconds earlier. The camera cut to a shot of two men being rolled into comically large carpets. I recognized those men as the financiers of the very restaurant whose restroom I was inhabiting! I vomited copiously, and sank to knees in silent but reverential prayer.

A knock at the bathroom door interrupted my vigil. “Just a minute,” I croaked, my throat thick with the mucus of regret and admonition. “No rush,” came a voice from the other side. “This is the sommelier. Just wanted to let you know that we’ve just filed for bankruptcy, and this bathroom was sold to a second-rate textile wholesaler in the Lampang province of Thailand. Thanks for understanding.” Before I could move, I felt a shuddering sensation, and swirling sense of vertigo – the bathroom was being lifted by some unseen force. The room tipped and yawed crazily, and I clung to the basalt toilet with all my strength. Eventually, the maniacal movement came to a halt. Through the thick walls of the restroom, I heard a loudspeaker blaring in an indecipherable language. The wild spinning of my descent had been replaced with the gentle swaying of the ocean. I was on a freighter bound for Thailand.

The remainder of my journey was largely without incident[7], and I returned home to America with only minor intestinal parasites. However, the psychological wound was far more severe, and my profound distrust and hatred of bathrooms has persisted ever since.

Next Week: part 2 – History in the Making: The Great Depression and the Reinvention of The American Commode

[1] For the purposes of this discussion, let us assume no fewer than 7 stars and 15 accolades

[2] For a full procedure, see Nature, Vol 2, Issue 10, pg 67: “A Non-Alkaloid Extraction of 5-N-Betatriptamine from a Nougat Substrate”, Kelly, Michealson, et al

[3] Remember, if you must place your celebrity in a plexiglass case, cut adequate air holes in the side and on top of the case. Nobody likes an asphyxiated celebrity.

[4] 1 pt Dry Vermouth, 1 pt warm tap water, 2 pts lemon zest, 1.75 pts Helicobacter pylori

[5] 45 seconds, 12.4 mL

[6] For all my follicle upkeep needs, I swear by the Hemmings and Carbuncle Follicle Stimulation System (coupled with the optional scalp salve)

[7] Though the story of my extradition was eventually adapted for the screen by impresario playwright Luc De Con Phay.

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