And what's wrong with that?
That's not a rhetorical question.
I do feel there's something wrong with that but a) I'm not sure what and b) does anyone else?
And what about this: In the crazy-hot summer of 2006 (as the digital memory-stick versions of ourselves will refer to it in the millennia to come), I similarly stopped off at the ladies' at the end of the day, and when I came out of the cubicle I was confronted by a woman stripped down to her bra (fully clothed from the waist down, I should stress) having a very thorough top-half wash over the basin.
(Perhaps the bottom half followed – I didn't linger to see).
She was a slightly older lady. You are right, this is of no relevance whatsoever, except there was a certain mighty, matronly bulk to her bra, and the considerable load it was bearing, that made me scared to reach across her towards the soap for fear of an accidental harassment charge.
When I saw her there, I emitted an inadvertent and high-pitched 'Oop!', my generic call of surprise/clumsiness/exertion (it is somewhere between 'Ooh!' and 'Oops!' and helpfully serves as either) at the unexpected MIDDLE-AGED BOSOM SEMI-REVEAL! that confronted me.
She, meanwhile, was entirely at ease. In fact, I would say she was revelling in the situation, positively daring me to blanche at her lack of inhibition.
'Don't mind me!' she beamed.
I did a bit.
If you want the truth, I'm always slightly intimidated by a very public groomer, a mirror moth – even if it's not depilation or partial nudity, but just a fairly normal amount of make-up. While it's likely that the opposite is true, I always divine a terrifying confidence about them. And – as in this case – they seem to feed off my timidity and slightly apologetic lack of grooming in order to become bolder and prouder.
I am 36, and I think I am so independent, so on top of it, with my work-life balance and my mortgage for one. But still. Seeing another woman in the throes of an elaborate make-up routine still makes me feel about seven.
It is an everyday anxiety that I will go the toilet at the end of the working day (I am a creature of habit, this much is clear) and there will be a group of advertising types in full preen, colonising the basin area like cockatoos spread out along a branch. You can usually sense this before you walk in, from the exotic scents that have seeped out under the door and into the corridor. For at least one reason, I take a deep breath before I go in.
Then I'll push open the door, and dive into a cubicle and, when I emerge, I have to insinuate myself – with my bare face and scuffed-up student-wardrobe jeans – among them, to perform something as mundane and totally square as washing my hands. 'Sorry... can I just... oop!... get some soap... thanks... sorry....' They will grudgingly slouch to one side slightly, to permit my path to dull old hygiene. There will most likely be some high-budget handbag cast down on the flat space between the sinks, its open mouth leering at me, showing off a threatening set of hair straighteners, cans and compacts inside. This means I have to rinse in the smallest, carefulest way possible, for fear of shaking water onto the uber-bag and provoking some screech of 'WATCH IT, SPLASHY! THIS IS MIU MIU!'
It's worse if I am forced to carry out some token making up myself. While in all likelihood they couldn't care less and are consumed thoroughly by the serious business of bronzer, I am crippled by performance anxiety as I put in my contact lenses, and feel scrutinised as I attempt to fake some colour in my cheeks. I blush (that, right there, is an inadvertent pun) to phantom sneers of: 'Oh! You're using that? On there? And you think that looks OK, do you?'
If there was hair to be removed, I would be undertaking that task in the murky depths of a closed-door cubicle, risking bloodshed and a crick in the neck, rather than publicly hoisting my armpit heavenwards for anyone to interject with 'You've missed a bit... there... down your arm.'
I'm not sure what the corresponding situation would be, were I a man. Perhaps a highly ostentatious changing-room towelling-down, post-shower. More likely, an elaborate hair-product ritual. I'm not sure a straight-forward Remington in front of the mirror of the gents' is the same. Although, if I were a bloke, doubtless I would still find a way to be intimidated by that, projecting a monologue out of the suave mouth of Mr Shaving that was principally: 'Can you guys believe I am having to do this AGAIN? God, it is a nightmare being so hirsute and so fecund and so incredibly made of undiluted MALENESS.'
What is the message here? I don't know. And that's a problem, because I'd quite like to go to bed. But let me refer you to the title of this post.
Loosen up, Jones, won't you?