There are two (of many) pubs I frequent that have chalkboards on the walls of the loo cubicles, presumably to discourage folks from permanently graffitiing the place, and I’m not sure that’s a good idea.
Not because I necessarily think it’s a good idea to draw on walls, because I love to, but because the impermanence of chalk means that the few folks who pick up the tiny nub of calcium sulfate (nope, chalk is not made from chalk) aren’t going to put a lot of effort into whatever they write and sketch. (Especially if the only available colour is white.)
My evidence for this is scant, I admit. It’s been ages since I read a really intelligent bit of toilet talk. There might even be a lack of it in women’s loos because ladies don’t (generally) take as long as men to do sitting-down bathroom things and also travel in chatty packs to do their dirty business.
This is a baffling practice and my non-participation seems to be one of my many ladyfails. I’m not really a shy pee-er, but I have no urge to talk to anyone while I do it. And I don’t need any assistance when dealing with other business.*
Also, this ladies-going-to-the-loo-en-masse thing scares men quite a bit. One of my brother’s friends referred to it as ‘Dangerous Girltalk Time’. I can see how one might be paranoid, especially as, when he brought this up, it was the second time that the other three women in our party all went to the loos together at the same time, one asking the other two if they wanted/needed to go. (I only knew one of them, and had barely met the other two, so I wasn’t invited. Which is 100% fine by me.)
Anyway, my point is that ladies in loos are too busy chatting with friends, evacuating zippity quick, tackling lady troubles, and reapplying makeup (if applicable) to come up with anything clever. In the pub yesterday, the most thought-provoking thing up there on the blackboard was ‘I love you all!!!!! ♥’, closely followed by ‘Hi there, everyone! :)’
That’s garbage. We should be better than that.
The other pub I mentioned above is a bit different, in that it’s frequented by more artsy poets and musicians and creative types who probably crave a bit of blank wall to decorate. The cubicles don’t just have a wee chalkboard, but are largely painted with chalkboard paint, allowing maximum creativity. You would think that this place would be floor to, well, not ceiling, because the cubicle walls are shorter than I am**, chalk-full (har).
Nope. I can’t remember the last time anything was written up there. The walls are disturbingly blank.
Kirk dragged me into the men’s room there once to see a dirty joke written up there, and there was a bit of stuff up (mostly more dirty jokes), which is fine by me. But the ladies’ remains sterile and dull. Doesn’t anyone have anything interesting to say? Not even an interesting quote or website to suggest?
If a pub offered a sharpie on a string tied to the cubicle door instead, would be people be more interesting, because their work would last beyond that evening’s wipedown? I went to a truly impressive loo at Dragon, where there was sharpied graffiti on every surface (except the toilet and sink – porcelain can be tricky). I loved it.
Of course, I can’t attest to its cleverness, as it was all in Polish, but the art was very good. I wish I had a photo. Hundreds of people (it was a co-ed washroom) must have contributed to this marvellous bit of community art. It never would have worked if it was ‘forced’ or done in a less-permanent way.
Of course, graffiti is horrible and illegal and shouldn’t be encouraged. No, never.
Neither should writing ‘The quality of discourse on this chalkboard is appalling’. But I did that yesterday anyway.
* Even if those cellophane wrappers on tampons are designed to stick statically to every thing on Earth, making them impossible to throw out. Someone should study those fuckers, seriously.
** I should really stand up and triumphantly raise my arms to say ‘YES! It was ME who just urinated! And now you can see my face if you look up. So I won’t look anywhere but straight ahead, because you are still sitting and clearly busy!’