Deirdre Kelly

Girls’ Club

I was in New York City recently, staying at the uber cool Standard Hotel in the Meat Packing District and while having lunch in the ground floor restaurant, I felt the call of nature.

I asked for directions from the white-aproned waiter behind the bar, then scooted down the stairs, and not too soon. I really had to go.

But when I turned the corner to enter the washroom I saw a man akimbo in front a urinal. OMG! I jumped back, really quite shocked. The corridor was short. How had I missed the ladies? I backtracked, but could only find the stairs I had just come down.  It’s then I realized that the gents was the ladies or the ladies was the gents. Oh brother. I mean sister.

Anyway, I still had to go but there was NO way I was going to tinkle within earshot of some man. So I zipped back upstairs to my hotel room, relieved to be relieving myself  without some dude listening in.

I might be liberated and all that, but a unisex toilet? For me that’s taking emancipation too far.

I feel the same way about men infiltrating salons and spas. I just hate it when I am in a salon-issue terry cloth robe, my feet in a basin of warm water in preparation for a pedicure, when in walks some hairy legged guy, plopping down in the identical robe in front of me. He usually sits like a  guy, too, his legs open at the knees, the robe riding up the thigh. Looking at him, I feel exposed, and very uncomfortable.

I have an 11-year old son, and when I told him that I can’t stand it when a man comes to the spa, he asked me recently why?

Call me old-fashioned — or is that sexist?– but I told him that I don’t want a man, particularly a stranger, stealing a glimpse into my female world of make-up and ablutions.  I don’t want him knowing my arts of illusion, my secrets of the boudoir. I want to maintain my difference, my sense of mystery if not dignity.

I feel the same way about men who come to the dressing rooms of clothing stores, most often dragged there by insecure women who need a man to tell them, yes dear, the red suits you, no dear, your bum looks big in that. I don’t like them seeing how I try different outfits on, looking for the right one that will make me seem alluring beyond the dressing room’s walls. I don’t want them knowing how I do it. And so I silently curse the women who bring them along, thinking them weak and utterly lacking in imagination.

Sometimes I notice that the man dragged in by one woman ends up quietly ogling all the other women in the store.  Which is to say they don’t mind having crossed the boundaries at all. But I do. I don’t want to be seen with my stockings off, or my underwear showing, by a man I don’t know.

I enter the dressing room armed with the same attitude I bring to the hair salon or spa: this is my world, defiantly female, no boys allowed —  gay hairdressers/stylists/makeup artists excluded.

If I wanted to pee in front a man I’d do that at home, in front of my husband, which I never do, by the way:

I don’t want him associating me with a toilet.

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