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Rant: Sex Repeal

Forget Snooki and banking—unisex restaurant bathrooms are destroying America


Some pleasantries in life are worth sharing. A pizza. A cab. Blame. Others should never be shared save for apocalyptic situations. A toothbrush. A spouse. Restaurant bathrooms. San Diego’s unisex loo is front and center again thanks to Kimpton, who purchased the Se Hotel and revamped the restaurant as Saltbox (try the short rib grilled cheese). NYC started the gender free-for-all trend circa 2005. It saved space and money. It prevented the vacant-men’s-room/queued-women’s-room dilemma. Plus, designers argued, it was “sexy.”  

I’m convinced these designers are aroused by medical procedures; their pheromones a’mist during Hoarders. Most functional humans do not get flush over co-ed washroom socializing.   

Private-washroom gossip plays an essential role in American courtship. “It’s been decided, in the Court of the Women’s Room, that your excessively tweezed brows, doughy abdominals, and decision to focus dinner conversation on potential fantasy football trades ... makes us incompatible. Good luck on Match.” The male is spared awkward pining for Date 2. The woman is free to resume manshopping.  

Finally, a woman in “night-out” mode is a finely tuned beauty machine. It requires mid-meal management and corrective vanity mirror measures. Unisex bathrooms make this a self-conscious task. The result is a restaurant full of false eyelashes dangling like cheap-motel vacancy signs; lipstick connecting a woman’s voluptuous upper lip to her left ear; local, organic kale covering a prominent tooth.

It’s worse for men. Finally evolved one rung past homunculus, we no longer haze each other for basic restroom grooming. But have a woman catch us preening? Unthinkable. So men bypass the mirror. That rogue neck hair, grown to six inches in length since the amuse bouche, goes uncut. Our coifs evoke tribal warfare and Unabombing. Hung just-so in the V of our collared shirt, nestled in disco patch, is a freshly gnawed lamb shank. 

Kimpton, please pull a reverse-Berlin and put up that wall. 

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