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The Acme House

August 30, 2011

This past weekend while Hurricane Irene was ravaging the East Coast, my friends and I were busy ravaging New Orleans in honor of a good friend’s upcoming wedding. And even though the hurricane made travel difficult and I had to cut my trip short, I had a great time and would like to go back one day.

But since we were there for a bachelor party and no girls were invited, we spent our days/nights eating, drinking and being merry. And with drinking comes the need to use restrooms.

If you have never been to New Orleans, you may or may not know that the whole city smells like a bathroom during the hot summer days. It isn’t very clean and you could probably get away with using a number of alleys, more often than not we used bar or restaurant restrooms, and the occasional “club” restroom.

But while in the least likely of places down on Bourbon Street, I came across a very nice public restroom. It was located in a restaurant called the Acme Oyster House. The food was excellent (I had the gumbo) and the drinks weren’t very expensive, but it was the bathroom that impressed me most.

There was one urinal and one stall, which spoke volumes to me as they resisted the urge to pack tourists in their restrooms like they pack oysters in their freezers. And the most impressive part was that the urinal was walled off and completely private.

After sharing a couple pitchers of beer and eating some hush puppies and gumbo, I was very delighted to be able to relieve myself in such privacy; mostly because just about every other bathroom we visited down there offered nothing of the sort. And like I mentioned earlier when talking about the smell of urine, some people in New Orleans don’t even use public restrooms.

The Port-A-Potty

August 26, 2011

As I have mentioned in a few previous posts, my wife and I traveled down to Atlantic City a number of weekends this summer in order to spend time with friends and family. My in-laws have a beautiful house near the beach and even when we have no plans, there is nothing but endless activity to occupy your interests.

My father-in-law and I like to sit on the front stoop and watch people unload and load all of their beach gear. It truly is never-ending madness as car after car pulls up and attempts to turn around amidst traffic. But this year, we had a new element added to the excitement. Right around Memorial Day, construction workers broke ground and began to build a house across the street. Ever since the construction work started, there has been a port-a-potty on the site.

Please keep in mind that I am writing this story in August. I am pretty sure that it has not been cleaned/emptied once all summer, yet day in and day out, people of all ages and sizes continue to frequent the restroom. I don’t know about you readers out there, but I loathe mobile restrooms. I have seen my fair share considering I have been to the Preakness a number of times and witnessed the infamous “running of the urinals.”

And let me continue by saying that this construction has been going on ALL summer; not spring, nor fall, nor winter. It has been dreadfully hot, and one can only imagine the gross odors and bacteria and who knows what else growing in there. There is most likely one of those creatures from Star Wars rummaging around underneath there ready to snatch a person up on a minute’s notice.

And while all of that is fine and good for those who don’t mind using the port-a-potty, I still will never understand how they have yet to witness and make use of the largest, most refreshing public restroom on the planet, the ocean. And before you judge me, think really hard as to whether you’ve ever done it or not.

The One-Sided Mirror

August 23, 2011

This past Saturday marked the first one since the middle of May that my wife and I have not had to take a trip out of town. By all accounts, since this Saturday aforementioned, we had spent exactly two Friday nights in Philadelphia over a span of roughly 13 weeks and zero Saturdays. So instead of running around like crazy, we decided to take it easy and enjoy our time in the city together.

Saturday morning, I surprised my wife by taking her out to brunch at the Continental – a Steven Starr restaurant located on 18th and Chestnut Street. As always, we had a wonderful time eating and talking and having a “breakfast drink” (or two). All of Steven Starr’s restaurants are a bit funky to me (think retro if that can even be used to describe something in this day and age) but the food is always excellent and the drinks are spot on.

Since we wanted to check out the farmers market at Rittenhouse Square after brunch, I thought it would be a good idea to use the restroom before we headed out. You have to take a long flight of stairs down into the basement to get there, and on my way in to the restroom I completely missed it. I was more preoccupied with the weird balled chains hanging in front of the urinals that make that annoying sound of rattling chains the whole time you are urinating, and then make it again while you are washing your hands.

I was washing my hands and making funny faces in the mirror, checking to see if had a loose boogie in my nose or something stuck in my teeth. I was simply trying to make sure I looked my best for my wife (best is a relative word). But on my way out, I noticed a giant glass window on both the men and women’s restroom walls. And it was in the exact same place as the mirror!

What purpose could this possibly serve? Who wants to watch someone go to the bathroom, or even worse, pick at his or her nose for a number of minutes, or play with his or her hair, or put on makeup, or anything else that is supposed to be private? Needless to say, I am certainly glad there was no one there when I exited the bathroom; whether someone was there prior to my exit, I will never know. And all because of the one-sided mirror that, in my opinion, would be better served the other way around.

Wash Your Hands – At Your Own Risk

August 19, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, my brother and his wife flew into Baltimore to see our parents and celebrate his birthday. Since he lives in South Carolina, we don’t see him very often and decided to take a drive down to my parents’ house to spend the weekend with the family.

On Saturday evening, we went out to dinner and enjoyed some Italian food and each other’s company. Afterwards, we decided to walk across the street to have a drink at a local bar.  I had been to this place once before on a Christmas Eve, but was kind of (more like probably) intoxicated so I don’t remember too much. I know that I thought I liked it.

Regardless, the bar we went to is in a restaurant called the Glen Rock Mill Inn. It is a very old building having been established in 1832, which is nearly 200 years ago for those of you who struggle with numbers – also known as basic math. The place has passed through numerous owners and undergone a number of remodels, but its current ownership has done a very nice job with the place.

The bar, located on the first floor, has a rustic feel to it with great woodwork and ample seats for eating and listening to live bands or sitting at the bar. But as always, I was on the lookout for the bathroom.

The bathroom, located in a narrow hallway (you should expect things like this with older bathrooms), was very nice done. There were only a limited number of urinals and one stall, but this bar doesn’t get an overwhelming amount of traffic, so it is understandable. The tile floor was very nice, as were the walls and countertops.

However, the Mill is almost DARING you to wash your hands. If you notice from the picture, the door swings inward, providing the opportunity to knock you out cold while demonstrating a healthy and conscionable act of civilization. And of course – as always – there is a sign in the restroom that asks all employees to wash their hands.

Well, if I could possibly suffer a concussion or be the reason some stranger gets sick, I would probably choose get a stranger sick, but that’s just me. Anyway, when going to the Mill, it is probably a good idea to bring either a helmet and mouth guard or hand sanitizer. And be prepared to wash your hands at your own risk.

The Brewery

August 16, 2011

We took a trip to New York City this past weekend to visit our old stomping grounds and see some friends. And although we lived in the New York area for over two years, we still have a number of things on our “tourist checklist” we want to cross off before we die.

One of those is/was the Brooklyn Brewery in the neighborhood of Williamsburg located in (you guessed it) Brooklyn. I would just like to say that if you have never been to Brooklyn get ready to discover a land where the 1980s never died.

We had a great time at the brewery. You pay $20 for six wooden tokens and each token gets you a beer (they typically are 5% alcohol or greater, so six tokens is more than enough). They had some very high-percentage beers that required two tokens, but I wasn’t about to dance that dance.

We happened to visit the brewery on a Saturday, so it got quite busy. However, we were fortunate enough to get a table after standing around some poor people who were getting ready to leave, just like a shark circles its prey. And after a few card games and beers, I of course had to use the restroom.

By all appearances, the bathroom was in normal order for a large brewery that acted as a bar. There were two stalls and four urinals, but here is what I didn’t like: the urinals on the wall had no splashguards.

The problem with this is that someone always wants to strike up a conversation like we are at a town hall meeting. I am not in the bathroom to hear what someone has to say about Derek Jeter or what beers they’ve been drinking or their plans for after.

I didn’t know one person that talked to me and it happened each time I went to the restroom. To put it bluntly, I have no use for discussing anything with another man while relieving myself and I am not sure where people get the audacity to do so.

Please bars, restaurants, breweries, and all other businesses with public restrooms, install some splashguards. They can’t possibly be that expensive, and they will keep some customers lingering longer because they won’t have to listen to someone else’s bulls**t. Although, I guess there is no other more appropriate place.

The Wild Wild West

August 12, 2011

As I mentioned in a few previous posts, I have been frequenting Atlantic City this summer, and this story comes from another casino off the boardwalk. To put it bluntly, gambling and drinking, limited sleep, and random groups of individuals can lead to some interesting situations.

On this particular occasion, my wife and I went to Bally’s Wild Wild West Casino with some friends to play $1 blackjack and get cheap drinks. And by cheap, I mean that they offer $2 domestic beers and $3 mixed drinks all day, every day. For Atlantic City, this deal cannot be passed up – not to mention there are usually live bands and there is always a mechanical bull for your riding pleasure.

Multiple bathrooms are located throughout the floor plan, but the restrooms are unique in this particular casino because of the stall doors. They are fashioned to look just like saloon doors would at an old Western bar. After a few drinks, I found myself kicking through those things like Clint Eastwood in any one of his cowboy films. It might seem childish, but it is actually quite fun. I could go further with the cowboy analogy and reference loosing your gun from your holster, but I think that is far enough.

However, it should be noted that the stall doors aren’t the only feature of the restroom that resembles the Wild West. The patrons are by far the most unruly characters I have come into contact with since that truck stop in Colorado about 10 years ago (shutter) and it really reminds me of a scene from a movie – if everyone was dressed up like a cowboy, of course.

Nearly every person who walked in to the restroom appeared to be intoxicated, and WAS loud, obnoxious and messy – please note that I am not excluded from this group. On a side note, I have a feeling that a janitor needs to be present at all times in case something happens; although I am not sure what he would be able to do other than get security. Every time I went into the bathroom, someone was yelling at someone else, people were flinging paper towels everywhere, peeing places you aren’t supposed to and not washing their hands.

So I guess the moral of this story is this: when you go to Bally’s Wild Wild West Casino – late at night – be prepared for it to get wild. And I didn’t even mention the number of people who fail miserably to ride the bull and come running in to be sick. Now this janitor in the photo did a pretty good job of straightening up, but I certainly wouldn’t want to go through that on a daily (or should I say nightly) basis.

The Roach, The Art & The Ugly

August 9, 2011

As I mentioned on my Who is the Wizgoblin page, I am currently a graduate student. As a result of this, I spend Thursday evenings after work in the Drexel library building from 6 PM to a little after 8 PM attending class. Since I have a commute that is typically 45 minutes, I seem to always have to go to the bathroom before class starts.

The only bathroom I have found in the library (I should mention that I am lazy and there are most likely other bathrooms) is in the basement underneath the staircase. I would like to describe it as dark, dreary and damp. But I can normally deal with bathrooms like that without much fuss. There is ample room and more than enough toilets and sinks, and splashguards (I have yet to talk about my belief that splashguards should be in every bathroom, but don’t worry, we will get there).

What really got to me was the GIANT cockroach that came crawling out of the front entrance that I was walking into the third week of class. I understand that it is a city and there are bugs all over the place, especially around high-traffic areas where food is, but I would hope that they have a pest management professional under contract considering my tuition for one class could cover about eight years worth of service.

But as stated in the first paragraph, this hasn’t deterred me from using the bathroom. If I really cared that much I wouldn’t be so lazy and would eventually have found a different restroom. And I have to say that I am glad I didn’t, otherwise I wouldn’t have stumbled across this wonderfully idiotic piece of bathroom art.

We all remember bathroom art, right? Of course we do! We are subject to it in every dive bar and rest area we stop at. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes it is not, and other times it is quite simplistic and probably not worth the creator’s time.

With that being said, I noticed this little guy hiding behind the toilet dispenser last Thursday and I laughed, but my opinion is this: if this is the best that the Drexel-educated youth of America can come up with, the DOW Jones isn’t going to drop 500 points in one day 15 years from now, it will be non-existent. And also, the bathroom is ugly.

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