Years ago, my sister and I were in the ladies, at some God-forsaken highway rest-stop out in South Dakota somewhere. It was after midnight, the lighting was terrible, and I was complaining about the poor quality of the mirror, which was a simple sheet of polished steel. The steel was wavy and kind of scratched, and its dull surface reflected only my general outline, rather than the exceedingly fine details of eyeliner, mascara, and lipgloss.
"What's up with that? Can't the South Dakota highway department afford real glass?" I asked. It was already obvious that they couldn't afford a real proofreader, because the largest toilet stall was labeled "handicaped only."
Stifling giggles, Martha said, "Well, probably people break the glass ones."
"Wait. You mean women? Breaking mirrors?" I was slack-jawed at the thought. Women breaking mirrors in rest-stop bathrooms in the middle of nowhere? How was that possible?
"Well, it could be anyone, really. I mean, guys could come in here in the middle of the night, and have a fight and the mirrors could get broken."
"Wait." My mind was reeling. First women breaking mirrors, vandalizing public property, perhaps even on purpose. Then, men in the ladies room. My God! What was the world coming to? And why had I never considered any of these exciting options for sh** to do in my spare time? Too much time reading Baudelaire and Ionesco for French V, obviously, and not enough time spent dreaming up acts of anarchic violence. Clearly, my bourgeois ordinariness was holding me back.
I hadn't thought about vandalism for years, until my recent trip to Greece. Because apparently, female museum-goers in Greece are just as rowdy and destructive as those South Dakotans.
At the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, you can gaze on the Mask of Agamemnon...
and the golden treasures of Mycenae.
You can look at Etruscan pottery...
or you can contemplate statuary.
But, after all that, if you need to use the ladies, consider yourself forewarned. This is what you'll find if you go to use the loo at the museum.
The women have torn off all the toilet seats, apparently. Fits of rage over poorly interpreted exhibitions? Blind anger over lack of bargains in the museum shop? Apoplectic fits at the sight of inattentive security personnel?
We will never know. But if you prefer to sit rather than squat, I suggest you use the toilet at your hotel before you go out touring. Because there's not a goddamn toilet seat to be found anywhere in Athens. Hope your quadriceps and hamstrings and glutes are fit, girls. You'll be needing 'em.