All you need to know about my town of Corinth, Miss., is right here on the top shelf of our local paint store, where, by the way, the staff spent almost half an hour carefully blending and matching paint for our bathroom. The young man helping me found our house colors in the battered metal card-catalog files lining one wall — they were listed under our address, which he knew as soon as I told him the name of the builder. I’d never seen anybody blend and match paint before — fascinating! He mixed proportions of shades identified by letters, spread a bit of the result on the color card of the original, dried it with an ancient-looking hair dryer and then studied it carefully, bringing in his co-worker to discuss the merits of “maybe a little more C?” or “there’s too much B in that.” Finally he was satisfied and charged me less than a typical Starbucks trip (because who can resist a Peppermint Brownie Cake Pop, Frosted Snowperson Cookie and a way-cute coffee mug along with a triple venti latte?). While the guys were working, I turned down their offer of water or coffee, talked to the store’s resident dog and imagined I was picking paint colors for our dream home. (I especially liked Ralph Lauren‘s River Rock finishes and double-especially liked the Swamp Willow color entirely due to the fun factor of saying “Oh, that’s Swamp Willow” whenever anybody might compliment our paint choice.) I also eavesdropped on accidentally overheard some excellent gossip about the cousin of the sister of the pastor of the attorney who’d taken somebody’s son-in-law’s divorce case. If there’s a local family-run paint store in your town, go hang out there. And buy some paint.
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 bathroompasses 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.”