On a recent night out at the Biltmore I noticed something on one of my visits to the facilities – and no this has nothing to do with dicks or dick jokes. What caught my eye was the vast amount of graffiti on the walls. I have been to the Biltmore many times before but this is the first time I really thought about the ink that covers the bathroom walls so completely. I guess the main query I had was, who wrote all this stuff?
I found myself wondering several things about these authors. The thing that stuck out the most was my curiosity over who brings Sharpies or big fat permanent markers to the bar? I suppose it would be the same type who carries one around so they can mark-up mailboxes and bus stops. At least I hope it’s the same type, it would be even stranger to me to be leaving for the bar and make sure to grab your marker so you can tag the bathroom. That sort of action shows a level of forethought towards bathroom artwork, which I find to be curious/creepy.
Something else I couldn’t help but muse on was that despite so much writing on the Biltmore walls and that of many other establishments, I’ve never seen anybody writing on the walls. Which filled me with questions over wall writing etiquette. Are you supposed to wait until the room is cleared before you start? Was the stuff written above the urinal done whilst peeing? Does that ever result in awkward moments with other patrons? See, now I kind of want to catch somebody in the act. I think I would get a modest chuckle walking into the loo to see a guy, junk in one hand and Sharpie in the other leaving his mark.
I suppose a large part of my interest also goes to the mentality of bathroom tagging and I guess tagging in general. I fail to see the drive behind it. If, indeed it is some sort of turf thing or an ‘I was here’ feeling, then wouldn’t – if caught in the act – the writer turn to me and pump his fist with a little ‘Fuck yeah and shit!’ so I knew it was him. So I knew that I was in the presences of greatness, that I actually saw ‘Stumpy’ or ‘Togsoner’ or ‘FilthBomb’ in person.
This phenomenon of bathroom tagging is not contained solely within the lavatory of the Biltmore. It is something I have seen at dozens if not hundreds of establishments, as I suspect you have as well. Which means you should be familiar with the two basic types of privy prose. The first being the simple ‘tag’, which when I think about it is most fitting for the bathroom as ‘tags’ tend to be heaping piles of shit. The second form encountered is the small poem or comment – things such as ‘Becky Winston is a bitch’ or ‘for a good time call 778-995-5789’ - at least in the men’s room, not so sure about the other side.
It’s actually what is written in the ladies room that caused me to dwell so much on the washroom scripture. A day or two before that I was with a friend who told me of some truly great conversations she read written on the stall door of the washroom. They sound very much different than what I am used to reading in the men’s room. This particular conversation started with a girl complaining how fat and ugly she thought she was or something to that effect. As it turned out the response was all positive, several comments left behind reassuring this initial girl that she was wrong and that she was beautiful and other such comforts.
My friends informed me that this sort of thing is not uncommon, that girls will often write nice things to each other and try and be helpful to the strangers who had previously popped a squat in that particular stall. Again something I found fascinating. This concept opened up a whole new dimension to the bathroom writing mentality that just leaves me with more questions.
So, I will put those questions to you. If you, loyal reader, can shed any light on the practice of bathroom tagging, poetry, conversations and any form of stall messaging please do. If you have engaged in this practice yourself then help me understand why? If you have ever caught somebody in the act of writing on the walls/stalls of a bathroom please share. Lastly, if you for some reason can recall a particularly memorable piece of writing you’ve read then share that story.