"You're crazy," I replied. "It's just a nice hotel."
"Did you see the bathroom? It's see-through."
"First of all, that's a bad photo, and secondly, in what universe is a see-through bathroom sexy? You're insane," I said, resting my case.
My co-worker Matthew and I were rooming together at the American Library Association's annual conference in Washington, D.C. The W hotel was giving cheap rates, but that rate would be even cheaper with two thrifty guys sharing a room.
The week before the conference we'd crack jokes about the see-through bathroom, with me insisting that there was no such thing, and even if there was, no one would want a see-through bathroom anyway.
I arrived in D.C. first. I couldn't check in til afternoon, so I spent the day wandering through the Smithsonian. It was cool visiting alone because I could spend as much time as I wanted checking out certain things while ignoring boring stuff.
"Oh, the history of commercial aircraft? ZZZZZZZZZ. Hey, look! Spaceships and WWII planes!"
People had warned me about D.C.'s heat, but as a native Floridian, I didn't pay too much attention. Hell, I grew up in humidity and heat. Maybe I'd run a marathon up there just to show everyone.
They were right. August in D.C. is no joke. It didn't help that I was carrying around all my clothes in an overstuffed messenger bag like a homeless person.
So I was more than ready to check in to the W. And yeah, it's a super-nice place. Great bar up on the roof with a view of the Capitol Building so you can pretend you are in the beginning of an action movie, lots of amenities and ....holy crap. See-through bathrooms. Yep. There's a toilet, a shower, a sink, all out there in front of God and everyone.
Shit. Matthew was right.
By the time I was in high school, group showers were a thing of the past, which was just fine by me. In the years since I had seen more male anatomy than I cared to, thanks to tricks like Hanging Brain or the Minnesota Wristwatch . But these were parlor tricks performed by degenerates that an upstanding lady or gentleman could simply ignore. I was going to have to like, shower and use the bathroom in clear view of another human being for a whole three days.
I have a confession to make. While I am a fellow who appreciates occasional off-color or bawdy talk, I'm a total prude when it comes to bathroom matters. I close the bathroom door when I'm at home alone. That scene in Bridesmaids where everybody's all shitting in the street? Gross. The term "Brainfart?" Gross, and probably my most hated phrase.
I had no problem changing in front of another guy, or sleeping in the same bed with him, but having to sit on the toilet while he was a few feet away watching cable? I would rather run a marathon in the D.C. heat, provided I had a private place to shower afterwards.
"Well, I'll be damned.'" I said. "You were right." Looking at Matthew's face, I could tell that he didn't really want to be right.
Luckily, my roommate was as genteel and refined as myself, so throughout the three day conference we made elaborate plans to make sure the other was far away or deep asleep or roofied before showering or using the bathroom. Because we were very cultured, we never actually talked about this, we just sort of worked it out without resorting to anything as crass as communication.
We were able to survive the weekend, but the incident leaves me with questions. First, who thought that was a good idea? How many architects and designers and planners had to OK a clear bathroom? Were we really in the Honeymoon Suite? What new bride or groom wants to see that? Save some mystery, people. And more importantly, I wonder if the statute of limitations has run out on suing for emotional distress and how much can I ask for.