When I go to a restaurant, I want a whole vibe. I want to notice the flatware. I want interesting ice cubes. I want the sides to — well, I want the sides to exist and at no extra cost. (PSA to all taco establishments: Lettuce and sour cream are garnishes, not sides.)
But most of all, I want to enjoy the bathroom. Which isn’t hard because I love a good bathroom. I like to think of myself as self-reflective, but sometimes I’m just another one of the self-involved masses on the internet, taking my phone into restaurant bathrooms, crossing my fingers for good lighting and cool wallpaper.
In 2019, I decided to document myself in as many bathrooms as possible. Which is to say: I took a lot of bathroom selfies. I visited everything from a men’s bathroom with a secret view of Fenway Park to neighborhood classics in Somerville.
Here’s what I found.
Best Experience: Bleacher Bar
Two married guy friends were visiting, and I asked if they would indulge me in a jaunt to Bleacher’s men’s room. Why? Because when you stand at the urinal, you can see into Fenway Park.
We got a table. Anthony scouted out the bathroom, Peter kept me company at our strategically selected table. I got the all clear and snap! Theresa at the urinals with a smile.
A man walked in on our giggles and high-fives. He smiled, “It’s cool, I ain’t judgin’!”
Biggest Letdown: Backyard Betty’s
I really wanted to like this bathroom. I’d seen pictures of the bucket sinks, the subway tile, the collage floor. But when I got there, I found two burnt-out lightbulbs making for an awfully drab selfie, and a floor that was reminiscent of a rub-on tattoo. Cue the sad trombones and snap! Can you even see me in this darkness?
That boozy Fruity Pebbles brunch shake, though? Worth it.
Best Almost-Big-Announcement: Trina’s Starlight Lounge
In 2018, I realized that I’m “not straight.” I hesitate to claim queer or even bi — out of respect for communities who have fought to safely be themselves, while I’m over here like, “I kissed a girl and I liked it.” But I am not straight. So, if I need to have a label, that’s it. My friends encouraged me to come out, but not really knowing what to say, I kept finding myself saying nothing.
When I visited the bathroom at Trina’s during Pride, their mirror was like a welcome home sign. “Happy Pride,” it read, a bright pink mouth and a sassy slipped tongue brushing the corner of the top lip. I stood in my favorite vintage dress, slipped my tongue across my lips, and snap! Happy Pride from Theresa at Trina’s.
Almost four months later I finally came out — by way of my Bitmoji avatar sliding down a rainbow on a pink-filtered Instagram pic on National Coming Out Day, of course.
Favorite Bathroom Selfie of 2019: Highland Kitchen
It was the kind of hot summer night that I prefer to spend in bed, air conditioner blasting, Hulu binging, and no limbs touching. Instead, I went to a friend’s show at The Armory, met up with a group of amazing women, and we tried our luck for an after-dinner table at Highland Kitchen. A kismet evening: The corner booth was open, we agreed on appetizers to share, and when I got into their bathroom, I realized my blue dress perfectly matched the cream-colored tile and brushed stroke walls. Highland’s bathroom is neither elaborate nor show stopping, but the lighting was just right and there are double mirrors in frames that are silver, sculptural, and quietly elegant.
And just like that, snap! My favorite restaurant bathroom selfie of 2019.
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I fully intend to ring in a new decade with a growing collection of Boston’s Best Restaurant Bathrooms for Selfies. Let’s make it a hashtag.
Theresa Okokon is a social worker, yoga teacher, storyteller, writer, and Wisconsinite living in Boston. You can find her on Instagram at @ohh.jeezzz.