Human and animal peeing habits. An animal will circle around a spot 3 times before it deems it suitable. I usually can't wait that long.
Like an animal, I have my preferred toilets marked out in my territory, usually involving beautiful hotels in exotic climes. I go to the same ones in Las Vegas which I re-visit each year, down to the same stalls. Ahhh yes....I've always wanted to write a book about my favourite bathrooms. This blog will have to suffice.
So, you've spent a number of hours in the SG area making your presence known when nature calls. Where do you go? For some of us, it's a no brainer. We live a stone's throw from any given haunt and it's usually just a matter of popping back home for the safety (relative cleanliness), comfort and familiarity of our own bathrooms.
However if the matter at hand is more urgent, some crafty thinking is in order. Even if you did the "pee before you leave the house/go for a car ride for pity's sake!" as per Mother's sage advice growing up, when ya gotto go, ya gotta go.
So my game plan is well thought out - sort of like a War Room floor showing a map of attack zones and landing beaches at D Day. I've got these on a grid, believe me.
Popular social etiquette suggests that you don't use a washroom in a store or a restaurant unless it is made available to the public, or at the very least you are spending time/money there. So, this limits our choice of toilets in the SG area.
Chapters has always been a go-to and given its location of being sort of a mid-way point of neighbourhood wanderings, it's convenient and you aren't breaking any rules by using their washroom without buying anything. However it's usually busy and given its proximity to the children's books section, usually smelly and loud. One door is a bit "iffy" and there is a large amount of water around the sinks at any given time. The hand dryers are "meh" and you are better off drying your hands on your pants. One doesn't linger here, the lighting is yellow and I always look harried and limp when I brush my hair. Besides, there is nowhere to set my purse down given the wet sink area. But still, it's Chapters and a certain "I read when I'm peeing" comfort zone is already in place.
Another hidden water closet gem is Starbucks. Now sometimes you can sidle in at the same time a large group of school kids/seniors/actual patrons file in to line up for coffee. Just pick up a few items, give them a cursory glance then ask for the bathroom key. The one connected to Chapters at Broadway also has a back door so you won't have to remind anyone that you aren't buying a coffee. Or anything. Also, given its nearness to food and drink, you can bet that it's clean. Actually, the lighting isn't too bad either for some strange reason.
I've always loved restaurant bathrooms and the ones in SG are among my favourite "refuge" zones. However some of their restrooms seemed to have been designed by men, given the lighting. It's all very "boudoir" which is fine and dandy if you are entertaining the troops. However, it's really hard to see to reapply lipstick for example. Also, and I know I'm not alone on this, I find the automatic taps annoying at most. I make vain swipes to get the water flowing and then it shuts off mid wash. All first world problems I admit. But for relaxation, nice music, a comfy chair in case one of your friends is hanging out with you, it's all good. Usually nice soap, Kleenex, and full length mirrors are included too. Yes, I'm talking about YOU - Joey's, Earl's and Cactus Club!
After a recent trip to San Francisco, I am acutely aware of the tiny "airplane/SanFran" cans that are cropping up everywhere, complete with minuscule sinks and clean white decor. One of the best bathrooms to feature this design is at the Stable House. Along with this economical and undeniably more "Ladies" than "Mens" water closet they also have a full-size bathroom. Both have the surprise element of really cool automatic lights. There is always TP and paper towels and the hand soap is a pleasant green apple fragrance. Sigh. Honorable mention also to Heirloom Restaurant for re-vamping a charming yet cramped bathroom space from a previous restaurant into white-tiled, clean, well-lit and bright rooms.
There is one bathroom which shall have to remain nameless, however. The bathroom stalls here are cramped, terrible gas station/institution cream coloured paint, yellow serial killer dim lighting and stall doors which are the stuff of nightmares. They are like something left over from grade school in that the doors are short. Short like when you stand up to zip up, you are exposed from the shoulders up (depending on how tall you are of course) and you can carry on a conversation with the stranger washing her hands. Unsettling, to say the least. Not only do I have intense heebeegeebees using it, but I feel a profound sense of shame afterward. Especially uncomfortable when making my way back to my table I happen to make eye contact with said person. A weird experience in an otherwise enjoyable atmosphere.
Ah yes, SG has hidden charms and since we spend so much time here, it's important to stake out your preferences, not to mention "go before you go".