YOU ARE TURNED ON by this idea that you are alone, when in truth there are six people pounding on the door and threatening to call the manager. Your privacy is limited at best, but this is part of the allure. Everyone outside probably knows what you are doing but you are afforded that little bit of privacy by the lock on the door. It’s a secret that everyone knows.
It started a few years ago, visiting your friend at San Diego State. You were mackin’ on a girl and she pulled you into the bathroom and straddled you atop a toilet before pushing you into the bathtub and surreptitiously walking back into the party.
The summer after graduation you decide to buy a ticket to Europe. Berlin is a good place to start. On Orianienburger Straße you learn the ins and outs of European dance floor courtship from a guy named Hartmut. He tells you that Bavaria is the real Germany and picking up chicks in Berlin is about acting like you are too cool for them. He thinks it would be easy for you as an American, especially from California.
You don’t ask him about your chances of hooking up in the bathroom, because you just met this guy. You spend a week listening to Hartmut’s advice, eyeing girls in circle-scarves and nose rings from across the room and it finally seems to work at a gay bar called Roses. The bar is known for its furry walls and cheap drinks, but probably mostly for its furry walls. You try to flirt by asking one of the girls to teach you 15-letter German swear words, but Hartmut tells you that you are coming off as an “ignorant American.”
When it becomes obvious the girls don’t care to explain anymore compound adjective-verb-nouns, you leave and blame your ill-fortune on your out-of-style winter coat you bought at The Gap in San Francisco. You plan to go consignment store shopping in Friedrichain the next day. You remember how a friend told you he was offered a threesome at an after-hours bar so you google “hip after hours bar” but only get results in German. You decide it’s about time to leave Berlin so you book a flight to Barcelona to visit a friend living there.
There’s something about the bathroom that is alluring to you. Your English lit prof would say, “it’s the meshing of the private and the public spheres in a moment of intense emotion.” The bathroom is a location in which nudity is expected. There’s no doubt that such a space in which you experience nudity outside of your private home carries a sense of sexuality.
In Barcelona your friend takes you to Razzmatazz. You are embarrassingly underdressed. You get drunk enough to recall your Spanish from high school and begin dancing with some of the local girls in your group. They think you’re funny because you’re dancing like an idiot and they laugh harder when you try to speak Spanish. You dance with a Spanish girl who seems to want to dance to top 40 as much as you do.
Once you are out of sight from the rest of the group you start to dance like everyone else in the club with your hands around her hips. When it comes to real dancing she is a way better dancer than you are, which you attribute to her being Spanish. She constantly puts her hands up in the air in what you think is supposed to be a sexy show of attitude. Suddenly her tongue is down your throat. This is a good sign.
It takes you three minutes to translate in your head but finally you say it. “¿Quieres venir al baño conmigo?” She looks at you baffled — not in a sexy way. Did you accidentally mistranslate? By this point she has disappeared into the crowd. You find yourself alone in the middle of the dance floor, dejected. A tall Spanish guy dancing elbows you in the head as you try to make your way back over to your friend.
You consider giving up on your bathroom fetish, and wonder if you can even consider this a fetish, and whether it’s even possible to give up on real fetishes, like feet or S&M.
You explain what happened to your friend back at his apartment. You over-analyze the drunken sexual psyche, but he tells you that’s the most important psyche to analyze. He admits that it’s a little weird to be drawn to the bathroom instead of, say, an apartment, hostel, hotel, or even the dance floor, but he concedes that those places do not afford you the same thrill. “We all have our vices,” you tell him.
In Madrid you’re by yourself so you go on one of those pub crawls that your friends from college would scoff at. The crawl takes you to Americanized bars but you don’t know Madrid in the least bit and decide it’s best to stay in the group. You introduce yourself to a girl from Istanbul. She seems interested but doesn’t speak much English and only a little bit of Spanish. You speak a lot of English and un poco of Spanish.
The crawl ends at a bar that is playing the song from Grease. You find yourself oddly proud of your country for whatever reason. She knows every word to the song and you sing along because everyone knows, “TELL ME MORE, TELL ME MORE.” You make out to the last verse that you don’t know and decide to pop the question one more time. You want to stay true to yourself.
“Bathroom? Wanna go to the bathroom??”
Was that a nod? She takes your hand and pulls you into the men’s room, which has no line. She sits atop the sink and you kiss her neck and she grabs your hair and you can’t believe this is happening.
You’re hammered and you can see yourself in the mirror. You look so fucking stupid, you think, then wonder why this girl is hooking up with you — especially in this disgusting bathroom in Madrid.
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Andy is a graduate student from the Bay Area. He currently lives in Austin, Texas where he will never get used to breakfast tacos.