Let’s face it — bathrooms are important, especially when you’re out & about and away from home. That’s when the state of a bathroom particularly is vital. It’s safe to say that we women appreciate a nice restroom with elegant touches and luxurious style. And it’s no secret that we tend to judge a restaurant or an office or a public building — or wherever we happen to be — by its bathroom. It’s a sort of test: Is the restroom clean? Is it comfortable? Are there plenty of supplies? Is the style of the restroom in keeping with the style of the overall location — does it convey the same decor message of funky or chic or classic or retro? If the bathroom passes these tests, we’ll give the “okay” our girlfriends who are waiting at the table while we check it out. But sometimes we enter an alternate restroom universe and it seems as if the bathroom is testing us. As in, “If you’re smart enough to figure out how the faucet works, Ms. FancyPants, then, welcome. You belong here. If not, there’s a McDonald’s down the street.” Such was my experience recently with this gorgeous and sparkling-clean women’s room at The Club in Birmingham, Ala. The furnishings, the art work, the details all were so compelling that it took me a minute to realize I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the faucet. I mean, it looks as if you’d maybe slide those rectangles back and forth or perhaps push them on the edges or maybe there’s a motion sensor somewhere. But, no. You turned these on by a coordinated action of sliding and pushing — and it only took me two visits and some friendly advice from an employee to get it right. “Don’t worry. Nobody can figure it out,” she said, smiling at my ineptitude. I could hear the bathroom chuckling in triumph as I made my way out. But before we were ready to leave, I couldn’t resist one last visit, just to show that I could. “You do it this way,” I said helpfully to a frustrated woman standing at the sinks. “But don’t worry. Nobody can figure it out.”
I don’t know what it is about Mississippi and restaurant names, but any eatery in the Magnolia state that has the word “grocery” in it is bound to be a winner. Examples: City Grocery in Oxford, Pizza Grocery in Corinth. And Romie’s Grocery in Tupelo. A meat-and-three by day, Romie’s turns into a warm and friendly dining experience at night featuring a creatively eclectic menu of fresh Southern favorites. And then of course there is the ladies’ room — you know that’s one of my top priorities for a restaurant. And Romie’s gets top grades for its home-like decor, cozy lighting and whimsical art work. Also: I sort of want to take this sink and the bathroom counter home with me, but a) that would leave a huge hole in the Romie’s ladies’ room and b) my Dear Husband consistently turns his nose up at bowl sinks. I say they’re an imaginative way to add some personality and style to a bathroom. He says, “They’re just weird. And wrong.” But I believe, with all due respect, that in this instance he is wrong. I mean, doesn’t the contrast of textures among the sink and the mirror and the counter just make you believe that the whole world should be this cool? Imagine, if you can, what it would look like with your typical white bathroom sink. Ugh. However, Dear Husband and I do agree that Romie’s is delicious and we should eat there as often as we can.
I’m pretty much a small-town Southern girl. More than three cars waiting at a stop light says “traffic jam” to me. The biggest building I can see from my front porch is the three-story county courthouse on the square a couple of blocks away. Also: I’m lazy and do not like housework. If we even have clean towels in our bathrooms at home, I consider that quite an accomplishment. But at the same time, I love visiting Big Cities and staying in nice hotels. For a change of pace, you know. And for endless clean towels. So when those clean towels come origami-fied as a pair of swans, it’s lagniappe. I mean, is this something I should consider doing at home? And where did this idea come from? Did somebody sitting around a corporate hotel-chain table suddenly jump up and say, “Swans! We must have swans!”? Or is it a subversive effort from the housekeeping staff? Or maybe towel swans are The Latest Thing in hotels and I’ve missed it until now. At least it’s nice to have a cityscape balcony view to gaze at reflectively while you contemplate weighty swan-towel issues.