The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Girls & Boys

Another moan. Well, not a moan as such. A quibble. An indulgence of irk.

What is it with pubs and the signs on toilet doors?

In the old days, you knew where you stood. There’d be a sign for ladies, and a picture of a stick person with a skirt, a sign for gentlemen, a picture of stick person without a skirt, and a sign for disabled, and a picture of a stick person in a wheelchair.

Now, at this point I could digress into the prejudices and assumptions this makes about people with disabilities – what, are they suddenly devoid of gender because they have wheels? – but I’ll save that for another day.

No, my problem is that now, in order to seem more upmarket, cutting-edge or chortlesome, toilets no longer have these simple, easy-to-understood words and symbols.

Instead suddenly, if you want to go into the correct toilets, you have to have a degree in iconology and foreign languages. It’s not enough for it to be ‘men’ and ‘women’. Now it’s ‘ducks’ and ‘drakes’. Which leaves me standing there, legs squeezed, jumping up and down in bladder frustration, trying to drunkenly remember whether male ducks are called ducks or drakes.

Other places are more cryptic. I swear I once went in a place that had ‘Roundheads’ and ‘Cavaliers’. These aren’t even gender-specific.

In America, they don’t even have toilets. They have washrooms, or even more euphemistically, restrooms. Of course, in the UK you can go to the toilet in a restroom, it happens at London Bridge station every Friday night.

It gets more complicated. In Scotland, both the pictures have stick people in skirts. And I once went to a transvestite bar in New York. It was like a bizarre logic puzzle. The choice was ‘butch’ and ‘femme’.

No comments:

Post a Comment