Pre-Oscar potty: A photo dump of area facilities

Using public restrooms can certainly be a crapshoot. In my quest to quickly distinguish men’s from ladies’ lounges — or spotlight the creativity behind lavatory door design — here’s more signage I found clogging my phone.

Unfortunately, I forget where I shot this first pair. Based on the embedded info, it was around the time I reviewed “Forever Plaid” at Olney Theatre Center. So let’s call it that. (If my theater dates recall where we went out drinking afterward, that may provide a clue.)

Penelope Cruz

Penelope Cruz … why? (2013 Photo by Terry Byrne)

Penelope Cruz  is instantly recognizable … but who’s the guy (below)? Anybody? Looks like a young Paul Newman. Please let me know your theories in the comments.

If you had to choose someone emblematic to mark a restroom male or female, who would you choose?  Also curious: How is a user supposed to know that the guy isn’t intended to lure in the females, and vice versa?

Am I missing a joke here? So many questions … so few readers … so unlikely to get a response. (Is there an echo in here? That’s why I like bathrooms.)

Mystery guy at Olney Theatre Center

Mystery guy … who? This signage MAY be on the Olney Theatre Center’s men’s room door. I can’t remember. (2013 Photo by Terry Byrne)

Meanwhile, this sign in the stall at Smashburger in Fairfax, Va., earns a rave review.

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(2013 Photo by Terry Byrne)

And given this is Oscar nominations week, let’s shine the spotlight on the bathrooms at Bow Tie Cinemas in Reston, Va. Simple branding, symmetrical aesthetic … if they gave out Academy Awards for bathroom doors, this coulda been a contender.

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Donde esta el bano, por favor?

The lady or the tiger? Still wrestling with restroom doors

How about you? Seen any gems to share?


The lady or the tiger? Still wrestling with restroom doors

A seasonal update on the universal struggle to differentiate which public restroom is meant for you. Ever find the signage be-which-ing?

Spied these at the Applebee’s in Fair Lakes (Va.)



An idea obviously concocted by a man. Why are the women always the witches (rhymes with …)?!?!?

For more on this conundrum, see my previous post: “Donde esta el bano, por favor?”

And if you see any interesting men’s/ladies’ room signs across the country, please share them with me. I will compile them and credit you in a future post.

Donde esta el bano, por favor?

Putting aside my obsession with what goes on inside men’s rooms (See “The Daily Journal Urinal: Who knew?), I’m freshly fixated on how owners of establishments, typically bars, seem to go out of their way to disguise restrooms. It’s enough of a challenge to navigate one’s way to the potty after American-style partying, but having to puzzle out which door is for men and which is for women (The Lady or the Tiger?) seems a dangerous hurdle in emergencies.

Is this a sign that strict lines of gender matter less and less in modern society and that it wouldn’t much matter if we chose the wrong door?

These recent examples go way past Damas y Caballeros. If you enjoy these, please send me yours, so I can compile them. Maybe I’ll even sign up for Pinterest for this.

Starting with the highly judgmental World of Beer (this shot was taken in Evanston, Ill., but they’re the same in Arlington, Va.). They also have those machines on the wall that you stick your legs through and they vacuum-pressure things dry and shut — at least I THINK that’s what those machines are for.


What language even is this? Greek to me. Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013

At Piero’s Corner, an Italian restaurant anchoring Fairfax, Va.’s Main Street, these made me LOL. Go ahead, read them aloud:

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Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013

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Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013

The dignified Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastro Pub in Shirlington, Va., caters to linguists. Luckily they come with translations, if you can decipher the script after one too many Black & Tans.

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Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013


Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013

Finally, these are clearly labeled, but I wasn’t sure what to make of the preponderance of ants near the ladies’ room at the Artisphere in Rosslyn, Va. Is it because women are sweeter and they’re following the sugar trail, or are men’s rooms too toxic even for insects? Perhaps the buggy décor simply helps cut down on lines, weeding out the squeamish.

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Somebody call sanitation, the ladies’ room is crawling with ants! Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013

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Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013

The Daily Urinal Journal: Who knew?

urinals PLAY

Exploiting a new niche market: A veritable pee palace!

So what ELSE has been going on in men’s restrooms all these years I’m not privy to?!

It has come to my attention that at my favorite Mexican restaurant in Reston the current edition of USA TODAY is displayed in a colorful array above the urinals.

This poses many interesting questions: What did you THINK men were busy looking at while they went? Do they fight for the urinal beneath the sports section? Is that sexist of me? How do they turn the pages? Will the papered walls one day be replaced by iPad screens, or will men’s rooms be the final (edition) bastion of print journalism?

I’m ever intrigued how the world plays out differently for men vs. women, but it blows my mind I’ve never been let in on this boys’ club secret. And in downtown D.C., my husband informs me, The Washington Post has dibs at every self-respecting Irish pub washroom. After several Harps or Guinnesses, I’d imagine, men could consume a lot of news in relief. Women, at best, get advertisements, crisis-center hotlines or lovesick graffiti inside their stalls, while men are soaking up a FREE news stream?!

It’s a wonder there aren’t longer lines to get in.

Anyone who has ever lived with a man knows that a newspaper and the john go hand in hand. We even refer to the “men’s room” at home as the “library.” Moreso now, since laptops and smartphones have made access within the facilities more facile.

Still, I can’t help but think media companies, fighting to keep from going down the drain, haven’t somehow capitalized on this fecund opportunity — the last-standing outpost to the newsstand. Could prove a gold(en) mine. All those averted eyeballs, looking for something respectful to do.

I’ll humbly volunteer to do more market research.


My turn to be probed by aliens


Relax and do it! Here’s hoping reading through this “virtual colonoscopy” will prod you to get yourself probed.

“Up yours!” will never have the same ring to it since I bore my first colonoscopy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises screenings for colorectal cancer every decade, starting at age 50, claiming that as many as 60% of deaths from colon cancer — the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. — could thus be avoided.

I say “avoided,” and not, as it claims, “prevented.” News flash: You can’t prevent death. We’re dodging bullets here, that’s all, and I’m hoping only not to take one up the ass.

For spring-chicken readers out there, here’s a glimpse of life on the downhill side of 50, as we hurtle toward our demise and discover the brakes don’t work.

Prep Day One, two days before insertion

No solid foods allowed. My prescribed diet is creamy milk products, such as milk, by definition; yogurt (can a busy woman squeeze in a Go-Gurt?!); pudding (not rice or tapioca, or BREAD pudding, obviously); ice cream or milkshakes. Bonus allowance: eggs, hard candy, popsicles, Jell-O and clear liquids.

Basking in the Baskin-Robbins craving.

That’s some serious deprivation, excluding the ice cream. So I plunge in with ice cream for breakfast. Though, technically, it’s chocolate Greek frozen yogurt. Coffee ice cream might have been a brilliant choice, although I’m drinking gobs of java on the side. I plan to get a jumbo Baskin-Robbins peanut-butter-chocolate milkshake later.

When hunger strikes again, my “second breakfast,” a family tradition, is two eggs, sunny-side-up, and a 100-calorie Jell-O Temptations Key Lime Pie. OK, yum. So I add a Jell-O Temptations Lemon Meringue Pie for dessert. I down it with Ocean Spray cranberry juice, straight from the bottle, because it’s mine-all-mine. I seem to have adopted a woe-is-me-patient persona even without the paper-thin drape that ties in front and opens in back.

Caloric intake so far: 808.

I’m realizing the delicate balance of health here. To do the right thing against cancer, I am developing something of an eating disorder. Also, to feel satisfied, I’m forced to rely on the eggs my doctor took away from me last November because of worrisome cholesterol.

Life is full of trade-offs, and we can’t do everything right or be everything to everybody and ourselves all the time. It’s all about taking turns, striving for balance.

Today, my bowels; tomorrow, my blood.

Oops, late for work and no time to stop at Baskin-Robbins. Gotta grab that shake at quitting time.

Couldn’ta Had a V8

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: I chose the low-sodium kind, but even that was a no-no.

The “dunch/linner” I packed for the office included three cans of V8, which I thought would be a crafty way to squeeze in the vegetables I suddenly craved. But the doctor’s office called during my commute to check that I was bowel-prepping and answer any questions. I said, “Yeah, as a matter of fact, glad you called. It’s OK if I have a V8, right?” Vegetables were suddenly my forbidden fruit. Had to have ’em. The nurse scolded: “NO. That is exactly the opposite behavior we want. Too much fiber.” Step away from the V8. I pound my head, as in the commercials, duh.

This rule vastly reduces the supply of foodstuffs in my brown bag. What’s left: two things of raspberry and orange Jell-O and two things of Jell-O sugar-free dark-chocolate Mousse Decadence Temptations, at 60 calories each. At the cantina at work, I purchase two hard-boiled eggs and another thing of pudding. The yogurt has fruit in it; must avoid fruit. I feel like Eve or Snow White ogling the apples. I spring for a chai latte, for the calories alone.

I am drowning in bottled water.

12:52 a.m. Finally finished work; Baskin-Robbins is long closed. No milkshake for me, on the one day I am entitled and encouraged to have one. I throw myself a pity party instead.

Caloric intake for Day One: 1,385. Really? I didn’t feel as if I ate a thing. I go to bed hungry and dream about bread, no lie.

Prep Day Two

9:30 a.m. I drive to Baskin-Robbins. They don’t open until 11 a.m. I hate my life and the whole of civilization.

11 a.m. Time to drink the vile bile potion, medically known as “Suprep Bowel Prep Kit.” You mix the 6-ounce clear concentrate with 10 ounces of water, toast to your health, and chug, with a 32-ounce water chaser. The stuff tastes vaguely like grape children’s cough syrup and makes my head buzz. Correction: Makes me wanna gag. I can barely get the water down.

I have time to read about the potential grim side effects. “There have been reports of generalized tonic-chronic seizures and/or loss of consciousness associated with use of bowel preparation products in patients with no prior history of seizures.” Pretty sure I’m gonna get that.

11:39 a.m. This can’t be right. It works so fast? I am relieved by its gentleness and surprised at the artfulness of amber-colored geods in the porcelain bowl.

12:24 p.m. So glad I bought the Scott’s flushable moist wipes, which are also kind to the environment.

12:42 p.m. Getting ridiculous.

12:53 p.m. I am spending so much time on the toilet, I feel like a man. (For those who think guys merely stand for quickies have never been married or had a father with home newspaper delivery.)

UP THE WAZOO: My “ascending colon” is kinda lovely, if I do say so myself.

1:17 p.m. One of the biggest warnings in the Suprep packaging is to guard against dehydration. I must consume some clear liquids now, but I have zero desire. Reviewing again the list of allowed fluids: coffee, tea, chicken broth, beef broth (again with the no vegetables — I swear, all we have to do to get Americans to eat better is make vegetables illegal), soda, water. Scritch-scratch-rewind. Soda? Again with the health compromises. I never drink soda as a normal person, and have no intention of taking it up now. Hey, perhaps I should start smoking?!?! Aside: I had a roommate once who lived on nicotine and caffeine alone, keeping nice and thin, but rarely getting kissed.

2:10 p.m. This is going well; just checked, lost 3 pounds.

2:21 p.m. Have also lost full control of my sphincter muscles and can no longer distinguish between Nos. 1 and 2. Then again, was never great at math.

2:48 p.m. When they insert the scope tomorrow, will they have a laugh at the toilet-seat imprint on my butt? Which reminds me: I better shave. No, not THERE. I try to epilate and exfoliate before all doctor’s appointments. It’s only kind.

3:12 p.m. I own a lot of tea, which I always mean to drink instead of coffee, but am thinking a diuretic is not the best choice right now.

4 p.m. Chicken broth for the soul. Can’t even wait for it to heat up all the way, just pour it in a stout glass. Pretend it’s craft beer. Talk about going straight through ya’. Looks the same coming out.

4:34 p.m. Would the doctor even know if I nibbled on one almond, slowly sucking on it, or say a chocolate-covered soy nut from Whole Foods? Whole foods, how I love you. I watch with envy the birds snatching corn kernels from the bird feeder. I am a baby bird accepting regurgitated gunk from the inside of a chicken.

Yet, must say, I am impressed by my willpower. The strength comes in wanting not to jeopardize the procedure, to get a “solid” result, to not have to repeat it anytime soon — and even not to disappoint the doctors involved. How many times have I experienced cravings for food not in my best interests but couldn’t help but help myself because I didn’t have “doctor’s orders” to stop? If people on the verge of diabetes or what-not understood the relationship between “doctor’s orders” and the consequences of their bad behavior, willpower would be in greater supply. Odd thing about willpower. It’s exerting power over our free will, or willing ourselves greater power. And doctors have authority over us only because we empower them via our submission.

6:45 p.m. I feel empty.

9 p.m. Second dose of that crappy cocktail.

COLON PRIDE: Actual computer rendering of my large intestine. Does this make me look fat?

9:08 p.m. The body is an amazing vessel with so much storage, who knew! The colon, or large intestine, is about 6 feet long, while the sidekick small intestine, uncoiled, would expand to about 26 feet, about the length of a Winnebago. The makers of those colon cleanser products advertise that 40%-70% of our immune system resides in the large intestine and that 90% of the body’s serotonin is stored in the gut. Coronary artery blockage and strokes, cancer, neurological diseases, dementia and depression are initially caused, it seems, by retention and accumulation of poisons and toxins — often due to a sluggish colon. The average American colon is said to harbor 5 pounds of putrid, half-digested red meat (not me, I don’t eat that much red meat even in a year), plus another 5-10 pounds of foul, impacted, sluggish sludge in its mucus-lined folds. Uh-oh. Another movement.

9:26 p.m. You know when you’re packing for a move and you ponder, in amazement, “Where did I get all this shit? Never knew I had so much”? Ditto.

10:17 p.m. OK, the person who devised this colon-cleansing curse as a “safeguard” against dying was a fucking sadist. (I apologize to my mother, who subscribes to my blog, and to my kids, who maybe have never heard me curse.) What’s the point of flushing out the ol’ equipment? Is that part of the test, to see how well we function under extreme stress? Or are we just making it easier for the doctor, so s/he doesn’t have to get those pretty gloved hands dirty? Friggin’ elitist with a high-falutin’ education and three summer homes can’t stand a little doo-doo? Well, life is messy, doc, get used to it!!!

11:29 p.m. I’m beginning to understand the phrase “angry asshole.”

How do they expect me to get any sleep and be rested for anesthesia? No more fluids starting at midnight. I can’t sleep sitting down so, for insurance, I slip into a pair of sexy men’s Depends that came in the mail as a sample. Been saving them to send as a yuk for my brother’s next birthday, but hey, these are pretty comfy with all the extra padding up front.

Colonoscopy D-Day

7:30 a.m. Awake, famished, skittish. I’ve heard of people who don’t have to dedicate three days to a colonoscopy, or even journal about it. I don’t get those people. They take some pills one day while fasting, do the deed the next, then drive themselves to a restaurant and pig out.

What we need in this country is uniform health care.

More important: What does one wear to a colonoscopy? 

Such helpful info never appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine. (ha-ha, I know, annals.)

I settle on workout clothes. Easy to work out of. Once there, though, they size me up for the smaller-size wrap-around gown (yay, weight loss!) and give me socks with skids. I’m a hair worried about the “every one in 2,000th time something goes horribly wrong” statistic on the consent form, but my nurse tells me those statistics apply to every procedure everywhere, including Indonesia or the Citgo bathroom, and that my doc is 0-30,000 for boo-boos.

I am ready for my rite of passage.

An artist’s rendering of me mooning the doctor. For the first time ever, I had oxygen prongs up my nose. The “gas,” a sedative, actually entered via IV, third vein from the right on my left hand.

10 a.m. I lie on my left side on a gurney (thank goodness, no kneeling on all fours, as I’d pictured) and am given the gas — hoping I don’t have the gas, er, you know. I’m sure these guys have seen it all. The gurney ride down the hall is nifty, like TV; my eyes are the camera, rush-rush, darn, no doors to bang open and no one crying beside it, running to keep up. I faintly wonder if they’ll give me digital images to share on Facebook, then I’m out. Disconnected from all social media, social consciousness and plain old consciousness. Weird we can even have such private experiences anymore, withheld even from ourselves … though blogging about it may annul that revelation.

Rumor has it the proctologist inserted a long, flexible, lighted cancer-detecting dipstick into my anus, guiding it slowly through my rectum and into my colon. I’m hoping he didn’t break anything. The scope inflated my large intestine with carbon dioxide gas to give him a better view. A spy camera mounted on the scope transmitted images to a screen so he could examine my intestinal lining. And that’s why they call it a “screening.” I wonder who else was invited to my colon premiere.

The circle marks the polyp. We’ll know, in four weeks, whether it’s benign, but it looks awfully cheery to me.

17 minutes later. I awake as if from a full night’s sleep, but mid-sentence, surprised to find an anesthesiologist in a turban and beard instead of my husband. I’m already chatting up a storm with a nurse with a soothing voice who GIVES ME 9 PICTURES. On the report is written: “Good preparation.” Gold star! But the news is not all good. They found a polyp, a teeny one, YAY big — 0.5 cm — which was removed for biopsy. That means I don’t have a 10-year reprieve; back again in five.

For now, though, tra-la-la, I’m going to Baskin-Robbins for a jumbo chocolate-peanut-butter milkshake. Don’t give a rat’s ass about the calories.