My bladder needs no more encouragement than that and I squeeze between the tables. There is, of course, a little queue. I get talking to the woman in front of me, accompanied by her son-in-law, about the continuing gender injustice of public restrooms, despite studies from decades ago showing that to achieve equal waiting time for men and women, architects need only design the restrooms with twice the stalls for women. (The European Union studies were based on all sorts of elements: frequency and length of visit included.) The only place I know of that incorporated the recommendations of these studies is the new section of London’s Royal Opera House, where there was no wait last I was there.
The one-seat, single bathroom becomes free and she looks and me and says, “Join me. We’ll continue our conversation inside.” The line has grown and as we slip inside the bathroom, giggling, I can see the consternation on the faces of the men in the line. They don’t get it.
We chat and laugh as we take turns peeing and washing our hands, and then we leave the bathroom arm and arm to the bewilderment of the others in the line.
This reminds me of the old days, when gay clubs were illegal and when same-sex dancing was illegal. At that time the Mafia often ran the queer bars, trusting to their collegial relationships with cops. Inside, the long queues for the bathrooms were fertile cruising zones, a chance to meet those from other tables, other cliques, other lesbian worlds. Yes, I met lovers in those queues back in those days (late 60s, early 70s) – it was the only place, other than our budding movement, to meet girls.
On my way out of the restaurant, at the end of the birthday party, I stop to say goodbye to the stranger who had shared her seat with me, as it were. She jumps up and hugs me and says, “We’ll be bathroom buddies forever.” I will be keeping an eye out for her wherever my bladder leads.