Destination: Women’s Bathrooms, Floors 4 & 12, downtown Minneapolis Macy’s
Hey ladies! Have you ever thought it would be exciting to get on a time machine, travel back to the 1920s and pee? You can do that at Macy’s in downtown Minneapolis.
OK, so there’s no time machine involved. All you have to do is step out of the intimates collection located on the 4th floor and through the portal. Here’s the entrance:
There are, however, lots of women who want to talk to you. The first time I ended up here, completely by happenstance, there was a woman showing two of her friends the bathroom and I joined their de facto tour group to talk about the amazing tiles, original fixtures and color scheme. I’m so glad this was never renovated.
How many bathrooms do you go into today where you get to enjoy beautiful tiles like these? They don’t have these at Chili’s!
The second time I was in the bathroom, I came to take photos and waited for it to be empty. Just as I was beginning to snap pictures, a woman dashed in and locked herself in a stall. When she came out of her stall into the main room, our conversation went like this:
Chatty Woman: I’m so glad I made it in here! Man, there is no place to set your stuff down though. I was running up here, looking for the bathroom, about to pee my pants and this sales clerk was like, “I know your pain! I was just like you when I was pregnant!”
Me: She did not say that! Chatty: Yes, she did!
Much squealing on both our parts at the rudeness and audacity of this woman. Then Chatty Woman pulled up her (tiny) t-shirt to show me her (bulging) stomach.
Chatty: I mean, I know I gotta do something about this but… that’s still rude, right?
Me: I think the rule is that even if someone is pregnant, you don’t bring it up if they’re in the in-between stage where they might be pregnant or might be putting on weight.
Chatty: Yeah, she shouldn’t have said anything. Oh, I just bought this new shirt and I’m gonna put it on and it will cover more of my stomach.
This changing of the shirt took place right in the sink area. Once she was in her bra, she noticed my camera.
Chatty: Hey, you’re not going to take my picture are you?
She struck a pose.
Me: Um, no. Absolutely not. I’m trying to document this bathroom.
Chatty: I didn’t even notice this bathroom. It’s cool. Here’s why I’m so fat: my man keeps on cooking for me! On Sunday we had baked potatoes, steak and salad. Then the next night he makes vegetable fried rice with rib tips!
She put her new sweater on, which was approximately the size of her old shirt and did not cover all of her belly.
Chatty: Damn! I thought this would be bigger. I guess it’s OK. I did have five babies. I’m just not pregnant right now.
She proceeded to tell me that when she was young and in love she had five babies with her man and now she wonders what she was thinking. She was caught up in a love cloud. She’s calculating who will die first. Her kids are almost all grown up except for the 12-year-old, who wears clothing that is too small. Older men ogle her and older men are disgusting.
In the middle of this conversation, it occurred to me that maybe I really had slipped into a vortex and perhaps this woman was not real. Was I imagining her? Was this like the bathroom scene in The Shining between Jack and Grady! Red rum?
Me: Have you ever seen the movie The Shining?
Chatty: Yeah. Why? Is someone going to bust in here and chase us around with an ax?
Eventually, I got Chatty to leave the bathroom so I could take more photos. I didn’t feel right taking them with her in there. But without her the bathroom did seem more gloomy and ominous. It doesn’t have the best lighting and there isn’t anyplace to set your stuff. And I still haven’t been able to figure out this sign, posted on the wall outside the main bathroom. Holly Bell? Red rum?
The 12th floor is home to the Oak Grill, the original restaurant from when Macy’s was Dayton’s. Opened in 1947, it was first a club for men only – women had the space next door for their fluffy luncheons and fashion shows and, you know, all that dumb junk women used to do. If you go past the Oak Grill, you’ll see a small exhibit about the history of the building and it’s progression from Dayton’s to Macy’s and blah, blah, blah. I didn’t read a word of it. I was looking for the bathroom.
This bathroom is much more of a lounge, although it’s been updated. It has extremely good lighting. If you needed to get a sliver out of your finger, you could do so here without a magnifying class. There is so much light that I’m not sure anyone could work up the gumption to to anything tawdry in this bathroom.The updates however, are a bit sad feeling, sort of Vegas meets airport lounge meets clinic.
However, it does have Room of Mirrors. You can tell that Room of Mirrors used to be part of something really special, before the renovations. At least they left the mirrors , so you can be made dizzy while you wash your hands and see 30 more of you washing their hands and so on and so forth…
There was a group of women here, too, having a deep conversation when I first came in (to pee – I’d talked to Chatty down on 4 for so long that I had to go again) but by the time I was washing my hands and wondering how I was going to explain my camera, they kindly explained to me that they had to leave because the mirrors were giving one of them a headache. “It’s so crazy standing here,” one of them said.
You should try a few floors down, I thought. And then I went all Vivian Maier on the place:
If you go: Be one of the Ladies Who Lunch and eat at the Oak Grill or The Skyroom, both on 12th floor. Oak Grill is sometimes open for dinner until 7 pm; Skyroom is lunch only. They have a salad bar and a wall of windows. No rib tips though.