What Actually Happens In Women’s Bathrooms

It’s no secret that women and bathrooms have a special relationship. We like to go in groups, stay in there for about two rainy seasons, and often come out an entirely different person. No matter what anyone tells you, never believe that that little room with the W on the door is anything less than the insane study in behavioral psychology that it is. Jane Goodall could have easily built a makeshift hut in the back of one and come out with findings no less interesting or revealing. And no bathroom is more of a circus than that of a busy bar or club on a Friday night. The stakes are high, the girls have been drinking, the line is long, things are going to happen. For those of you that haven’t had the privilege of seeing one for yourself, here are a few of the more choice bleach-scented realities.

  • The lines are Soviet bakery long- There are really only two reasons that women go to the bathroom in small groups/duos, and one of them is that it’s nice to have someone to talk to while you’re standing awkwardly, trying not to touch every wet surface, and often spilling out into the hallway as you wait for one of the three stalls to open up and service the dozens of women who’ve just chugged three gin and tonics. If you do go it alone, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have an awkward, stilted conversation/head nodding session with the girl next to you about how long this line is. Imagine a conversation about the weather, only much less engaging.
  • People are talking shit- This is the other reason that women go in multiples. Just so you know, fellas, any time you go out with girls and they retire to the bathroom together, they are having one of two conversations about you:

“He is so hot, like, Ryan Gosling in the bearded, middle thirty minutes of The Notebook hot. I normally don’t go for facial hair like that, but he could so get it tonight if he wanted to.”

“I think he’s trying to get with me… he can’t possibly think I’m into him, can he? I don’t know, what do you think? Ugh, you have to save me. Can you take one for the team, please? Say you stepped on a rusty nail in here and we have to go to the hospital. Or something.”

These conversations generally make up the light, effervescent din that fills women’s bathrooms like a fine dust.

  • Someone is crying- I know, I know, it’s a cliche at this point to point out women crying in public. But oh, God, is it ever true. There is, without fail, one girl against the wall with a light blend of tears and mascara running down her ruddy cheeks, barely eking out a semi-coherent but universally understood, “I just…I just don’t know what to do anymore, you know?” while her poor, poor friend runs through a list of The View-style affirmations and tries to pretend like she’s not holding in about 7 beers’ worth of pee.
  • There is some bitch glaring and typing away on her phone- It is a staple of any bar/club, the girl who spends the entire night (never more so than when pressed against the bathroom wall), looking at everyone with the hate of a thousand suns in her face and mashing her keys with a vengeance. She is so over it, she doesn’t like you, she doesn’t like your shoes, and there’s a 93 percent chance she’s also the girl who, when politely offered to be bought a drink by a poor, unsuspecting man, will treat him as though he just yelled racial slurs and farted directly into her purse.
  • Vomit! Vomit! Vomit!- Someone is puking. A given for every bathroom, but yet somehow so much more beautiful when done by ladies at a bar. Leaving all sense of dignity or shame behind, women will unabashedly ralph their small intestines out as two of their best friends stand by for moral support (?) and look at everyone who walks by as though they are bursting into her home bathrooms and videotaping her in the shower. The very same women who would rather fall on a sword than take a poop in a public bathroom, even a completely empty one, are ready and willing to hit that perfect combination of Red Bull and Lemon Drops that will leave them with liquid pouring freely out of every facial orifice.
  • There is a Christ figure walking around with some Windex- The true martyrs of our time, the women who are left, on a nightly basis, to pay for the myriad sins of the human race, are without a doubt the women’s bathroom cleaning ladies in a bar. Left trying to scoot around every manner of drunk, unaccommodating woman to feebly attempt to pick up sanitary napkins and empty constantly overfull trash bins, they look upon the bazaar of the bathroom with the same hopeless, solemn, thousand-yard stare that I imagine POWs must bear on their more bleak days.
  • Screw this three-square-inch mirror, I have makeup to put on- Let me tell you, there is nothing more hilarious than seeing the makeup-and-hair combination that, while looking like something out of a Victoria’s Secret catalog on the dance floor, looks like a raccoon on its third day post-being flattened by a car in the harsh light of the bathroom. Thank you, most dive bars, for installing fluorescent lights in your WCs and therefore giving us all a humbling reminder that we are, in fact, not as hot as we think. And the furtive, almost desperate adjustment of all that is cosmetic in front of a mirror an infant would have a hard time using is made all the more wonderful by the knowledge that, when they return to the blacklight-and-fog-filled mess of a dance floor, they will look exactly the same as before. Strobe lights, the great equalizer.

So there you have it. Women go into the bathroom together, and it takes a while, but it could be worse. All things considered, we’re actually pretty timely. We usually share stalls with our friends to save time, and if you still want to complain, we would be happy to wait for individual ones. We will then be spending approximately 27 minutes in the bathroom for every hour out on the town, if my calculations are correct. TC mark

image – ©iStockphoto.com/Nathan Watkins

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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  • Jenn

    Excellent piece.

  • Anonymous

    “There is some bitch glaring and typing away on her phone” – me

    • douchegirl

      And me. 

      Although, now that I think about it… I’ve probably been every single one of these examples. 

      Great article. Spot on!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=825630453 Lauren Doster Magruder

    I always felt sorry for the ladies who were actually working in the women’s restrooms on the weekends, pumping the soap, handing out brown paper towels and offering squirts of perfume. They should all get together and recount their favorite moments and make it into a book. 

    • Star

       I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen anyone cleaning the bathrooms. Guess I’m going to the wrong bars.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9383035 Scott Muska

    Awesome.

    At a bar I go to sometimes, they have a woman who works in the men’s room on weekends, cleaning and all of that stuff. I always feel terrible for her, and I also wonder if it’s even legal.

  • http://www.wilfordlauren.tumblr.com Lauren Wilford

    “He is so hot, like, Ryan Gosling in the bearded, middle thirty minutes ofThe Notebook hot. I normally don’t go for facial hair like that, but he could so get it tonight if he wanted to.”
    Your specificity is forever charming.

  • http://www.facebook.com/blanketboat Jessica Blankenship

    chelsea, all i can think about is that basement bathroom in that weird neon douche bar in paris, the one we ended up at when the boys first met. it was weird because we were the only ones in there, but you could feel the sad, pungent echoes of all the aforementioned situations.

  • Amkorme

    But what do men do when the women leave? It’s something I’ve always wondered.

  • Amkorme

    But what do men do when the women leave? It’s something I’ve always wondered.

    • Guest

      We imagine the club is the set of an action movie and plan for the imminent gunfight.

  • a.

    I think you left out “OMG we’re having so much fun, let’s take pictures of us posing in the bathroom to show just how much fun we’re having!”

    • Babe

      also should be known as bathroom cloggers; they slow down the lines/pace without a care…because “OMG we’re having so much fun”!

  • http://twitter.com/mung_beans 371747

    if the line’s really long I just go in the men’s

    • Asdf

      As a man, if the line’s really long, I just go in my pants.

      • http://twitter.com/mung_beans 371747

        cool

      • Asdf

        Not really. No.

      • http://twitter.com/mung_beans 371747

        yeah I bet it’s actually pretty warm

      • http://twitter.com/mung_beans 371747

        yeah I bet it’s actually pretty warm

  • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

    There you go, giving up all our not-so-secrets. Breach of the “only in use when I feel like it” Girl Code? (Probably not.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=807220175 Jessica De la Cruz

    love this!

  • Star

    “Let me tell you, there is nothing more hilarious than seeing the
    makeup-and-hair combination that, while looking like something out of a
    Victoria’s Secret catalog on the dance floor, looks like a raccoon on
    its third day post-being flattened by a car in the harsh light of the
    bathroom.”

    So true, which is why there are so many girls clogging up the bathroom while reapplying makeup for the Ryan Gosling look-alike.

  • Guest101

    So this site’s a catalog of thoughts, not necessarily a catalog of interesting/entertaining/well-written thoughts. Got it.

  • Guest101

    So this site’s a catalog of thoughts, not necessarily a catalog of interesting/entertaining/well-written thoughts. Got it.

    • guest2

      Let me guess…you’re a man? Or you’ve never been in a woman’s bathroom in a bar?

  • Elizowen12

    “There is a Christ figure walking around with some Windex- The true martyrs of our time, the women who are left, on a nightly basis, to pay for the myriad sins of the human race, are without a doubt the women’s bathroom cleaning ladies in a bar”
    Laughed out loud at that one.

  • http://twitter.com/yanyun92 Lim Yan Yun

    someone is peeing. 

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