23 July 2008

What You Can Get in the Public Theater Bathroom

It seems spectacularly incongruous to me that the Public Theater, that longstanding bastion of cultural democracy, is one of the few places left in New York City where you can encounter a bathroom attendant.

For as long as I can remember, a small old man who speaks broken English has lived in the Public's men's washroom, offering soap and towels and turning on faucets, and accepting tips from whomever feels appreciative enough. There's a small table to the right of the sinks crowded with items that can make you smell better. Usually, I avail myself of a mint or piece of gum from the candy bowl. The other night, however, I took a close look at what else was available. It's quite an amazing assortment.

There's Listerine, to cure vile breath. Tums, in case the play you saw made you ill, and Advil, if the play gave you a headache. Deodorant, in case the stuff you put on this morning is wearing off. Hand lotion for hands made rough by twisting the Playbill in frustration, and air freshener, in case the atmosphere in the bathroom offends you.

To top it off, you have a choice of three different colognes: Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole's Reaction and one other which I couldn't identify because the label had worn off.

So it's settled: You could arrive at the Public Theatre completely unwashed, unbrushed, smelly and hungover and have nothing to worry about. A trip to the restroom will set everything right.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, the bathroom attendants were added when the Public opened Joe's Pub. So they've only been there for about 10 years.