‘Ladies room’ mystery finally unraveled

By Helena Rodriguez: Local columnist

It’s time we get to the bottom of that age-old question that has haunted men for centuries.

Notice I didn’t say women. That’s because we women already have all the answers.

That age-old question is: What exactly do women do in the bathroom? Why do we go together in mafia gangs, armed with lipstick and face powder? Why do we stay in there a long time? And why do we come out laughing or crying?

When I worked for the Abilene Reporter-News in Texas, my newsroom colleagues were searching one morning for our missing photographer, Nellie.

“Oh, she’s lying down on the couch in the bathroom,” I replied.

I had just come out of the ladies room, half-asleep myself, and was stunned to see her sprawled across the couch when I went into the bathroom to check my makeup in the wall-sized mirror that ran above the wall-length vanity. Nellie must have been taking too many pictures the night before, or perhaps drinking too many pitchers.
“Ya’ll have a couch in the ladies room?” A reporter named Brien Murphy asked.
“Yeah,” I responded. “Don’t you guys have a couch in your bathroom, too?” And Brien shakes his head no. To annoy him, I said we also had scented candles and lockers, which we did, but then I teasingly added that we also had a hot tub and a massage bench. Now this may not be too far from the truth in some women’s bathrooms.

At my place of employment now, the Portales News-Tribune, we have a colorful spray of artificial flowers in the ladies room along with not one, but two types of hand moisturizers: Vaseline Intensive Care and something called “skin milk.” I was informed by our secretary, Vickie, that men here are not afforded the same luxuries. She mumbled something or another about them not getting extra amenities because they always miss their target.

Growing up, my aunt Paula, who is only two years older than me, would always ask my sister Becky and I to go with her and her friends to the bathroom and then our friends would follow along, too. Even when I got older, my friends and I would go to nightclubs and all head to the ladies room in a gang where we would meet other gangs of women. It was like a pantyhose convention.

One bathroom really took the cake. In Yucatan, Mexico, two summers ago, we were at Playa del Carmen and I’m in the ladies room when a woman walks in and starts unlocking all kinds of cabinets underneath the wall-length vanity. She pulls out everything you could possibly imagine a woman could need while out partying on the beach — hairspray, aspirin, perfume, pantyhose, hairbrushes, mascara, mints, nail polish, deodorant, tampons, sewing kits, disposable shavers — it was a convenience store inside of the ladies room.

Like the “Calgon, take me away” commercial, the ladies room has become a means of escape for us women, sometimes an escape from the smoke and loud music, sometimes it’s in search of other intelligent lifeforms out there to discuss important matters like: “Should I put my hair up in a clip, part it to the other side, or leave it down?”

Actually, there are some very important things going on in the ladies room. As a matter of fact, many ladies rooms come equipped with blackboards where we gather around appointed coaches who map out gameplans for us, defensive or offensive strategies, depending on the situation, and they also offer tackling techniques.

I’ve actually seen a few good fights in the ladies room, too, and sometimes we even have belching and burping contests.

In some cases, women slap each other’s behinds. Sometimes a woman gets slapped a little too hard, and so she comes out of the bathroom in tears. It really has nothing to do with her and her boyfriend making up or breaking up, but for the sake of protecting our treasured little getaway, that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: