Friday, 8 April 2011
I usually hate public bathrooms. They're normally loud and busy and give off the vibe that privacy is just not an option. Whether at a service stop or in a mall, there's almost always a little kid complaining that they can't pee or an embarrassed person taking a number two in the wheelchair stall. The atmosphere is instantaneously frustrating for anyone.
But, one thing that almost never fails to rescue me from the fast pace of public washroom is graffiti. It's the one thing that allows us toilet-goers a break from the noise around us or inside our heads, as we read words like "Katie loves Matt" or "Stef wuzz here." There's something amazingly comforting about knowing that someone else took the time to vandalize personal messages on the very spot in which we sit.
In fact, there is a bathroom (whose name will remain in confidence), where Graffiti reigns supreme. Colours and writing styles of all kinds, this stall really takes the cake when it comes to toilet reading material. Directly behing the toilet are the lyrics, "If we could be heroes, just for one day" in big, cursive pencil. On the far left wall, more bubbly cursive font claims that, "Love is like a bird. Let it go, if it comes back, it's yours. If it doesn't it never was." On the corner of the back wall, to the left, the words, "Never give up. You are always loved by someone," are scrawled in bold pink highlighter.
These words may keep people occupied while they pee, I couldn't help but notice the pattern that suggested they do more than that. The doodlings in this stall were better than the self-help section at chapters. Everything from "Keep your chin up," to "God loves you," had the theme of pick-me-up ruining through it. All words before me, I could hardly believe my eyes. This wasn't just graffiti. It was a safe haven.
Just as I thought I had discovered the ultimate of bathroom graffiti, a Starbucks washooms rrose to the challenge. Someone had inscribed the words, "My next perfect man will be..." followed by a list of hopeful qualities the vandalist wanted their lover to possess. She had left 5 blank spaces for different bathroom-sitters to fill, discussing the dream-traits of their future boyfriends. I had to smirk. Graffiti had a small but resilliant influence on whoever had also sat in my stall.
This brings up two main questions, both of which have already been discussed for centuries but are nevertheless revived by bathroom-stall graffiti. Firstly, what does this say about girls in 2011"? Are they still as undermined as girls from previous generations, constantly needing the self-esteem reassures that are long due after much oppression? And secondly, what does graffiti say about the prevalence of written word in our culture? If it can calm us enough to urinate in the midst of the busy bathrooms, it is still something to be reveled.