In Praise of Restroom Graffiti

In Praise of Restroom GraffitiI hope you all have had a happy holiday season so far, and that you have gotten an opportunity to spend some quality time with the people you love–especially those people that you don’t necessarily get to see that often.

I’ve been back home in Georgia for a few days now. I had not been back home since I made the big move to North Carolina at this time last year, so it’s been nice to see the folks, the cat, and some of the people I spent time with when I lived here.

This includes Tod. Tod and I have this almost-tradition of getting together the day after Christmas and rolling to the nearest larger town for beer, shots, football, and wings. And if the mood hits, we will hop over to a karaoke bar for songs and people watching. We don’t really know the town, though–as whichever bar we hit one year is usually shut down by the next–but we always find some shit bar. This year, it was a spot called “The Bottom,” which should be the name of a gay bar, but there weren’t enough people there to tell. We ended up interpreting the name as a “Welcome to the Bottom of the Barrel” sort of thing.

They had my favorite beer, though, so we stayed for a minute. One trip to the restroom later, and I’m reading some truly glorious restroom graffiti. This entire event reminded me of how much I love the scribblings often found on restroom walls. I remember reading philosophical arguments transcribed on the walls of my university’s library’s restroom walls–long and articulate responses to deep and probing questions. Since leaving college, I haven’t had quite the same reading material, and most restrooms don’t have graffiti at all. Needless to say, when I find a bar restroom with a wall seemingly dedicated to capturing the random and drunken ramblings of the horny and uneducated, I am pleased.

Restroom Graffiti: A Case Study

1. Community College Restroom Graffiti

2014-12-27 23.01.06   Since leaving university, I’ve taught at three different community colleges. Where I teach now, restroom walls are covered in slick tile–a terrible surface for writing with pens. This picture was taken at a previous teaching gig. It offers some of the same deep questions and pondering as the university walls, but it doesn’t do as much in the way of discourse. Here, Student A declares that “God knows everything”–not an unusual sentiment to read on a college restroom wall in the south. But the follow-up, which is harder to read, says “omniscience denies free will.” I appreciate this student’s critical thought, but I think his argument could have been better articulated.

However, this is typical “urinal” graffiti. If you are standing at a urinal, you are not investing a ton of time in the restroom to start . To read the words of those before you and then find your way into the conversation all over the course of a piss is actually pretty admirable. Bravo, Students! Also, a bonus shout-out to the student who declares that he loves himself in the bottom right corner. Either that, or he loves men, and the picture cut off the “n.” Whichever the case, way to go, Student C. I appreciate your declaration, but next time, let’s try to stay on topic.

2. Graffiti from “The Bottom”

2014-12-27 00.02.47-1This green and black masterpiece is the work of art that inspired this post. There is a lot of love going around here–love for Melody, Beth, Andrew Smith, tons of hearts, and the like. This is what one may expect from a place that specializes in booze. There is plenty of love for everyone!

My favorite part of this is where someone decided to let us know that he did, in fact, pee (in the past tense).

And if that didn’t satisfy our curiosity enough, he had to let us know the exact spot (note the arrow pointing at the urinal on the left). It reminds me of Whitman– “and you that shall piss from urinal to urinal years hence, are more to me and more in my meditations, that you might suppose” [1].

3. Brunch Graffiti

2014-12-27 22.01.56This gem was found years ago in the restroom of a bar/restaurant that specialized in brunch. Now, I’m not sure what the scratched/ etched section says/ means, but those four words at the top tell a story.

Some poor shmuck was out for a one night stand, and he passed out before he could either A) kick her out or B) sneak out, and now here he is–at brunch with another girl he was supposed to never see again.

I feel your fear and your self-loathing, you anonymous-brunch-graffiti artist.

Between us, though, you should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking you could hook up with that chick and never see her again. You at least owe her a waffle, a mimosa, and a conversation.

Prick.

Final Thoughts

Here’s hoping you’ve had a nice holiday season. Remember to be incessantly thankful–for family, for friends, for lovers, for cats, for food, and for restroom graffiti.

Have you ever come across any truly awesome restroom graffiti? Have you ever written any restroom graffiti yourself? Drop your confessions in the comments!

Until next time,

-Shane

[1] This is not an actual Walt Whitman quote. The inspiration for this quote can be found in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” a poem about interconnection between generations based on shared experiences–like crossing the same ferry or using the same urinal.

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3 thoughts on “In Praise of Restroom Graffiti

  1. This was great.

    Reminded me of the time in high school that some prick wrote “for a good time call maleficent at…”

    I marched right into the bathroom and put my own damn message in reply. I won’t tell you what i wrote, but let’s just say I felt pretty good about it.

    Thanks for the laugh and the memory.

    • That is the most common type of restroom writing, I guess. I called one of those numbers several years back to ask if the person wanted me to scratch through it, or if they enjoyed the advertising. I ended up scratching through it. Ha!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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