“I’ll just be back from the restroom,” she announced, proceeded to grab her purse, and walked away from the table. I continued to slurp from my bowl of soup. Her date (and a mutual friend) nodded, focusing on his chopsticks.
Twenty-five minutes went by. She didn’t come back. Was she all right?
We were at a Japanese restaurant renowned for its ramen and miso soup. Both dishes are delicious but light and I have never known them to irritate stomachs before. But how else could I explain her long absence from the table? Her date fidgeted and glanced at the restroom door every so often. I figured I should go and check. What if she had a stomach upset? A sanitary-pad incident? A nervous breakdown?
“I’ll just be back from the restroom,” I announced. It was only later that I realised I had repeated my friend’s statement unedited. Her date looked at me curiously, perhaps assuming it was code for top-secret behaviour.
I pushed open the swanky restroom door with some trepidation. My friend hadn’t been drinking that much; surely, I wouldn’t have to clean puke. Oh God, what if I walked in on a full-blown scene, the cleaners screaming at my friend, other patrons eyeing her with disdain?
Something clicked loudly as soon as I entered. A blinding flash struck me in the eye. There, in front of the mirror, stood my friend, her make-up newly done, not a hair out of place, smiling with mathematical precision.
She was clicking pictures. Selfies from every angle. Photographs with restroom stalls in the background that she’d spend long minutes cropping out. All this while we waited for her outside and her date feared she had staged a silent exit.
“Hey, let’s click a picture together!” she grinned at me. “But first you should do your hair.”
I muttered something and escaped into one of the stalls. The sounds from her camera followed me inside.
What is it about clicking selfies in the restroom? I find so many people doing it that I am worried it’s a riddle I can’t solve. How is a restroom, with its designated areas for people to do their ablutions, alluring enough to be captured on print? I see many restroom selfies on my Facebook feed; some of them even have hashtags like #NaturalBeauty and #RawSelf. Does this have something to do with the realisation that needing to use the restroom is a natural, raw human need? Some of the pictures I see have poor lighting too—no, none of the green-room elegance or vanity van charm. Is there something about a mirror that gets people clicking?
When I exited the stall, my friend had finally left. I eventually saw her back at the table, staring at her phone screen, possibly busy choosing the best restroom selfie to post on social media. It was a far more interesting pursuit than allaying the nerves of her date, even as the man grew increasingly convinced that she was utterly bored with him.
I got back to my simple-minded ramen. It posed no riddles.
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I am taking up the April #AtoZChallenge 2019 and will post every day of the month, except Sundays. I look forward to your company!
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