A tour of the White House left my fiancee, her brother, and me peckish. Flush with reverence for the our country's rich historical tapestry, we adjourned the keystone of American democracy and sought out its mortar: mid-range italian-American cuisine. We arrived at a nearby Bertucci's that had no doubt catered to a range of illustrious public servants, despite the humble accommodations and . free-spirited maintenance standards. Oh, to be one of the many flies on the wall. The endless salad and soup (what a country!) took their inevitable toll and in due time I hefted myself up, groaning to match the chair, and ambled toward the bathroom.
The amiable, light-filled atrium in which we were seated gave way to a sinister, deserted hallway: the change in aesthetic was the first omen that the experience of the digestive consequent was not to match its pleasant antecedent. This was a corridor suited more for gurneys or the slow, shambling undead than those afflicted only with full bladders. It stood in stark contrast to the restaurant, to say nothing of the White House's grandeur. The clink of grubby plates echoed dimly behind me, and, discomfited, I scurried into the men's room.
Upon entering, I was struck immediately by the bizarre geography. The two stalls were not adjacent and instead flanked the sinks, while the urinals sat on the opposite wall. The dispenser for toilet seat covers was found in the small anteroom, rather than in the stall. A hand dryer perched above a trashcan meant to hold paper towels that were nowhere to be found. A slippery floor sign lay capsized by the door. It was as though some divine creator had gathered all the ingredients necessary for a bathroom and sneezed them into place. I chose the stall to the right, obeying a primal instinct to put the greatest distance possible between a door and my bare ass.
The room gave off an eerie, unsettling air. An indeterminate item of black clothing hung from the coat hook in the stall - I refrained from further inspection. The primary light fixtures crowded close to the corners of the wall, while individual bulbs nested sporadically in the middle of the ceiling. Here, an excess of space felt less opulent and more ominous, as though one could shrink into nothingness, their diminishing screams for help drowned out by waitresses setting down infinite bowls of minestrone.
The lavatory achieved brief redemption in its wash-up station. The mirror was expansive and clean, and the counter made of a cheap but appreciated imitation of green marble. The sink had manual faucets and soap dispensers. I side with the architects who allow their patrons a modicum of agency, and this sink gave power back to the people. I ran my hands under the stream, reflecting on the multitude of greased palms that must have done the same, and held them impatiently under a dryer that wheezed lukewarm impotence. Stepping out of the oppressive gloom of the lavatory and back into the light of day, I felt an imperceptible burden lift from my shoulders. The waitress had brought more rolls.
Grade: 2.5 out of 5 toilet paper rolls