To Squat or Not to Squat: A Look at Popular Lark Street Bars Bathrooms.
Public restrooms horrify me and for good reason. Think about it: Before it’s your turn to balance ever so carefully over a toilet and attempt not to pee all over the seat, someone else has graced the same bathroom. But before you can even get to the point of to squat or not, I suggest you do a three-point check.
Jess and Kate at Cafe Hollywood
Over the weekend, I scoped out bathrooms at some of the most popular bars on Lark Street with the help of my fiend Jess Duell, a 27 year-old Albany preschool teacher. I evaluated them on their cleanliness, appearance and smell. When it comes to cleanliness the bar cannot be completely responsible. Let’s face it, there are some dirty people out there. For example, if you accidentally pee on the seat wipe it up. I don’t want to walk into a stall and see dribbles of leftover urine all over the toilet seat. I don’t want the stench of urine to engulf my nostrils. I don’t want to look at urine and debate in my head whether the person before me needs more water in their diet. It’s simple: If you color outside of the lines clean it up.
The bar bathroom needs a certain appearance. I enjoy a dash of color, artwork, writing on the walls, dimly lit lighting, at least one mirror, and a few forgotten drinks sporadically placed. The artwork and childish declarations of love, “Ashley luvs Brian 4-eva,” give me something to look at while my friend uses the bathroom. The dimly lit lighting is necessary. Do I really need to see what I look at like a three in the morning? No. All of these elements make a bar bathroom cozy and forgiving.
A foul smell can ruin a bathroom experience or should I say, make one puke in their mouth a little. Why is it so difficult for a bar to supply a spray? Glade: Relaxing Moments in Water Blossoms smells great. Look into it. I know bar employees are not the only ones responsible for the deadly fumes that inhabit the bathroom, so women need to start practicing courtesy flushes and even carrying a little spray with them.
Bombers Burrito Bar was the first stop on my list. After navigating through a sea of college kids and a Snooki wannabe, Jess and I finally made our way to the bathroom. For starters, the door was labeled with a “W” written on a piece of notebook paper. Really? A piece of notebook paper? The smell is what hit us first…puke and bbq sauce. There was no puke anywhere but the smell still lingered. The floor was littered with a few paper towels and a mixture of what looked like to be leafs, tomato peels, and paper resided in the sink. We made our way out the Bombers to a played out Lady Gaga song and to kids sipping enormous margaritas. Grade: C.
One Of Hollywood's Mens Bathrooms
I had been warned about Café Hollywood, “Last time I was at Hollywood there was a puddle of piss covering the entire bathroom floor,” said Jaime Malekoff of Albany, New York. Jess and I preceded with caution to the upstairs bathroom. I swung open the door and saw…nothing. The walls were a deep red color and once again paper towels were everywhere but the trash can. In one of the stalls, there was evidence that a woman had gotten into a fight with the toilet paper, as it was covering the tile floor. This woman and those who used the bathroom after her were obviously too lazy to discard of it. We decided we should also check out the downstairs bathroom. The bar was crowded and loud. People played pool, shot darts, and sang along to "Run-Around" by the Blues Traveler. As we waited in line for the ladies restroom, I asked Roger, a high school Spanish teacher, about the guys bathroom. “Oh, it’s gross!” said Roger, “There’s pee on the floor and it smells like ammonia. Why do you want to know about the bathroom?” He seemed perplexed by my interest in bathrooms until I told him it was for a story. “Will you go in there and take a photo for me?” I asked while handing him my camera. “Sure!” Urine was everywhere. The toilet was filled and there was piss soaked toilet paper all over the floor. “Eww!” said Jess. “Can you do a scratch and sniff photo for your story?” asked Roger. And on that note, we left. Grade: Women’s bathroom B-. Men’s bathroom G for gross. Get it together guys.
It's that simple!
After Jess and I left Hollywood we wanted to go somewhere we could actually get a drink. We ignored the bars that people were spilling out of and headed to Oh Bar. After ordering a Stoli Raspberry with Sprite and a splash of cranberry juice from Riley, the bartended, who informed me that’s what his ex-boyfriend used to drink, we watched In Living Color. I pulled out my notebook and started to look over my notes. “Are you a narc? I’m glad I carded you,” said Riley. “A narc? Ouch,” I said. “Just doing a story on bar bathrooms.” “Oh, don’t go in there!” Riley said while making a disgusted face. I put my notebook down and went into the bathroom. It was pleasantly clean and there was no overwhelming odor. In fact, Oh Bar gave instructions on how to dispose of used paper towels, “PLEASE…PLACE ALL PAPER TOWELS IN THE WASTEBASKET.” These simple instructions seemed to work; all the paper towels were in the trash can. Riley and another bartender named Josh, told me how during LarkFEST their bathrooms were so backed up they flooded out. “We had like four people with mops and it still wasn’t helping,” said Josh. Honestly, I’m glad I missed out on that. Grade: B+.
Susie's Womens Bathroom. Missing a shoe!
Susie’s was our last stop on Lark Street (alright, it's actually on Delaware Avenue) and it was packed with people who had just come from a hardcore show at Valentine's. A few minutes before Jess and I got there, there was a fist fight over a chick but now the bar was relatively calm. People were watching highlights of the Yankee vs. Boston game, playing music on the jukebox, and some were falling asleep on their barstools. This time Jess actually had to go to the bathroom so we made our way to the back of the bar. It was dimly lit, there as a full length mirror, and crappy artwork. Perfect. There wasn’t urine all over the seat or on the floor, and the majority of paper towels were in the trash can. It smelled slightly like stale pee but nothing unbearable. While Jess hovered over the toilet seat, I took advantage of the mirror and fixed my hair. Successful bathroom trip. Grade: B.
Our last stop of the evening was Fuze Box. We decided on this for a few reasons. Fuze Box is where you go to dance and at 2:30 in the morning, and we wanted to dance. And it might be the only place in Albany that you can dance to Billy Idol. Before we made the walk to the other end of Lark Street, we stopped at Dino’s for pizza. We each got a slice of cheese pizza and listened as a girl in short shorts, high heels, carrying a Coach bag, called one of her friends. “Ahhhhhh Ahhhhhhhhhh, call me the fuck back,” she yelled into the phone. “He said that if I called and made the Jersey Shore sound he’d never talk to me again…Yeah right,” said told her two friends. Her friends seemed to ignore her but she kept talking, “I know this is going to sound stupid but like ever eat a lot of sushi and you’re like totally full but it’s just all fish.” I looked at Jess, “Is she serious?” Jess and I shook our heads and walked to Fuze Box.
Womens bathrom at Fuze Box
Fuze Box is for the misfits. It’s where people go if they don’t want to go to a sports bar or a packed college bar or if they don’t care too much about appearance. Fuze Box is a judgment free zone. Straight, gay, black, white, old, and young flock this bar and it works. They are also know for having the dirtiest bathroom at 3:30 in the morning. Jess and I made our way onto the dance floor. Everyone was in their own world…carelessly moving their bodies to the 80’s music and smiling to themselves. We ventured into the bathroom and to our surprise it was clean for the Fuze Box. There were a few drinks on the counter, toilet paper on the floor, it smelled like alcohol, and someone decided not to wipe their urine off the toilet after using it. I’ll never get it. Anyways, we checked out the flyers that were hung up on the walls, applied lip-gloss, and danced the night away to “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi. Grade: B.
Moral of the story: Public restrooms are gross and they are gross due to your poor bathroom etiquette. Clean up your urine, start practicing the courtesy flush halfway through taking a “number two”, and put paper towels and/or toilet paper in the trash can. All these simple steps will make public restroom experiences a little more pleasant.