Kids these days… everyone’s got to get a trophy. Even bathrooms are winning awards. That’s right; there’s an Oscars for Toilets. I was at the Nashville Zoo recently and saw a prominently displayed plaque declaring their bathroom the 2019 Best Restroom Award Winner. Of course, I immediately went to bestrestroom.com to check out the other nominees to determine if this really was the Meryl Streep of bathrooms.
Here’s a very hotdog sentence for you: the bathroom had monkeys in it. It was, in fact, a very cool bathroom. Is having a special zoo exhibit only viewable if you have to piss a little weird? Yes. However, monkeys are cute, and I will never turn down a show while I wait for the bathroom. I do feel a little bit bad for the bathroom monkeys, mainly because they look like they’re aware they are the bathroom monkeys.
I feel like all of the other zoo animals make fun of them. It’s bad enough that their hair naturally grows in the shape of David Bowie’s Labyrinth mullet, but we’re also going to make them live in a bathroom? Give them some dignity, Nashville zoo.
The Nashville Zoo wasn’t the first to relegate an animal to a lifetime job as a bathroom attendant. They got the idea from the 2017 recipient of the Best Bathroom Award, OdySea Aquarium, who pulled the same move with sharks. Apparently, filling a bathroom with sharks is something either a bad James Bond villain or a good bathroom designer will suggest.
It may be controversial to say sharks deserve it, but they seem like creepy little guys. They can smell your leavings from four leagues away and they like it. But their enclosure seems more humane to me because it’s only a portion of the aquarium’s largest exhibit. It’s an interesting little window for the sharks to peek into every once in a while and see a bunch of humans standing in a line looking uncomfortable, unlike the monkeys who spend 100% of their public facing time in a bathroom.
Stuffing your bathroom full of wild animals is not the only way to get the bathroom award academy’s attention. They also seem to be interested in bathrooms decorated like a nightclub in the Lord Of The Rings universe. At least that appears to be the vibe of 2013 winner, The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. Here’s a photo of it, taken by someone who takes pictures inside bathrooms:
I personally vote this bathroom Most Likely to Remind Me I Haven’t Been to an Olive Garden in a While. What I mean by that is it looks like someone who has never been to Italy describing Italy to you, which is exactly what the best bathroom awards were looking for that year. Its entry in the bathroom hall of fame describes it as “one part old fashioned powder room, one part lounge.” Which they say “allows concertgoers to take a break in an area from which one can still view and hear the stage. Bartenders even serve drinks over the back counter into the restroom area, offering a VIP experience to every guest.” Fucking gross, those VIPs probably think.
Even though several outlets covered The Varsity winning Best Bathroom, they didn’t include a lot of pictures. It’s sloppy journalism.
So until I have to pee in Minnesota, I can’t quite get the orientation of the place. But it seems from the description that the bathroom is far too much of a social experience. I get that sometimes women congregate in there, and that’s fine, but it seems weird to make it a social hub of your venue. Where are introverts supposed to hide in this place? Where can they learn they’re lactose intolerant now with dignity?
The more you look at the bathrooms in the hall of fame, the more it starts to sink in that there’s no specific design aesthetic the judges are looking for. Sure, if you put a David Bowie monkey in your bathroom, you will win. That’s a great general rule for life. All other past winners are seemingly chosen at random. Last year’s winner was the Tampa International Airport, which won for a very normal airport bathroom. Look at this ordinary ass line of urinals. This is the default setting of bathroom:
There’s not even a whiff of New Jersey mansion decorator style to liven this place up. You can tell the bathroom judges knew it was a real dud of a year, too, because the language they use to describe it in its restroom hall of fame entry is so flowery. “Boasting large graphics and a natural, deep blue stone, the undulating veining is reminiscent of waves crashing along the shore.” I’m pretty sure you can’t do undulating veining in a public bathroom. At least not with monkeys watching. Plenty of other entries got way slimmer descriptions. Wendell’s restaurant only got two sentences, but they hired Herman Melville to take us on a word journey through the Tampa International Airport’s men’s room.
Probably the most depressing section of the bathroom hall of fame is the area where you can pursue the bathrooms that were nominated but didn’t win. I’m sure 2010 was a controversial year in the competitive bathrooming world. Somehow vintage St. Louis ice cream parlor, The Fountain on Locust, narrowly beat out The Muse Hotel in New York, the most indulgent bathroom on this list. Look at how they defecate there:
I’ve never seen a bathroom and said, “This is trying too hard,” before, but The Muse bathroom is thirsty. There’s a common lounge area and then individual stalls with cool words painted on the door like glam, envy, rebel, vain, and my personal favorite, macHo. I know there’s a guy who waits for the macHo stall when the glam one is open.
This bathroom is begging people to fuck in it. There’s a large illuminated moose antler on one wall. There’s red neon lighting and gold mosaic tile. They were campaigning for this award, and the committee could sense it. In fact, they wanted to win so badly that they resubmitted for consideration in 2020 with better pictures and got snubbed again! The judges hate this tacky, desperate bathroom.
Another big controversial loss was the year Great American Bank BallPark in Cincinnati brought some actual innovation to the awards and got fully rejected. How can you innovate in bathrooms? They added a full nursing suite for new mothers with tons of amenities like comfortable gliders and a kitchenette with a refrigerator for storing and heating milk. They put a full dishwasher in their bathroom and still lost to what the town of Minturn, Colorado, says is a bathroom, but I don’t understand how it could work from its photo. I am afraid of it and angry at it, and I’ll pee right in front of monkeys.
Bathrooms should not be confusing. People need to understand bathrooms. We’ve made them very simple for that exact reason. The design team behind this calls it “functional art.” I call it an excuse for a lot of drunk people to just pee in the woods instead. I don’t want to pee in art, but the best bathroom judges are all about it; peeing as art, however, they hate.
The judges were not impressed with the “urinal gaming system” Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania entered in 2016. The hands-free game was activated by motion sensors, and after finishing, the player got a unique code to report their score to a leaderboard via their smartphone and see the scores on real time displays throughout the stadium. They made a literal pissing contest and lost to another boring airport bathroom!
I have noticed one recurring theme at the bathroom awards. Aside from the gamification of peeing in a urinal, most of the entries are women’s restrooms. Not because men are disgusting but because monkeys attack when they see a penis, and none of you are brave enough to prove I’m lying. So for every beautiful bathroom winning this award, I have to wonder if there’s a men’s restroom that’s just a rusty metal trough and a pile of damp paper towels.
By the way, if you want to nominate a bathroom, you can submit an online form on bestrestroom.com. All you have to do is fill out some contact info, send a couple of pictures, and answer the question, “What makes this restroom special.” Caution, they don’t like it if you put “my daughter Courtney was conceived in here!” I heard that’s why Muse keeps losing.
This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: Neku104, the only bathroom monkey we need in our lives.