An Ode to the Alderman Library bathrooms


I’m not one to wax poetic. Sometimes I’ll epilate. Usually I do my best to avoid digging out deeply-rooted, unfortunately ingrown truths, and just casually slick right over ‘em with my trusty old Schick Quattro. But today — this bright yellow morning birthed of grey yesterdays and burning into blue tomorrows — today, I will indulge my flowery, romantic tendencies, and just freakin’ go for it. Why, sweet reader? Because today is the day I discuss the most lovely, most spiritual, most fulfilling aspect of Mr. Jefferson’s University: the Alderman Library bathrooms. 

I know what you’re thinking: Lucy, how dare you attempt to grasp at such ethereal resting places with simple scrawlings of ink on paper? No mortal being can describe the magic, no words can encapsulate the calm, nor the faintly moldy smell, that emanates from those tiled, heavenly cells. I understand your hesitation — I have felt it myself — but I dare because none before me have. I dare because I think it ought to be done. I dare because soon every toilet and sink in Alderman will be not only functioning, but uniform. With renovation looming ever closer, my time with the Alderman I have come to love and trust hastens to an end. Oddly placed spicket in the third floor Alderman women’s bathroom, this one’s for you.

I think, like all good stories, my ode should begin with an allusion, something to set the scene and tone. Are you familiar with “The Grapes of Wrath”? Yes? Great, the Alderman I grew to love was nothing like that.

It was a sunny April day in my first year. I had just eaten from the dumpling cart for the first time. Has my body shown me time and again that I am unable to eat greasy food without getting sick? Yes. Are the dumplings from the dumpling cart greasy? Devilishly so. Is Lucy Hopkins a quitter? Only in important aspects of her life, and dumplings really aren’t a priority. Though common sense and acid reflux told her to quit, nevertheless, she persisted. And who picked her back up when the taloned fist of Americanized Chinese food gripped her stomach and drove her to yak in the toilets right off the Aldy cafe? The ghost of the fabled Lady Alderman herself, a benevolent spectral godmother. In one of those characteristically off-center, chipped porcelain founts, I lost my lunch and found my strength.

The unpredictably pressurized water springing forth from the leaking faucets, the sunshine pouring in from those oddly placed windows, the age-old cracks in the speckled floors, the weirdly comfortable corduroy chair in the bathroom off of Gov Docs which remains unused because nobody in their right mind will sit in a reclining chair and just read in the bathroom because it’s not really a casual resting place but I guess maybe it could be because it has a decent amount of natural light and its temperature is fairly well regulated and the company entering and exiting the room is generally decent and eager to get out of your hair and really this is a great place to fix your hair, too, if that’s what floats your quickly sinking boats — they’re the constancy I cling to in our dynamic times — they’re what makes these heavenly quarters feel like home.

I fear the day when I choose a stall without first checking to see if it has sufficient toilet paper. I fear the day when I’ll look for musings scratched upon peeling painted doors and find nothing. I fear the day when I can sit on the toilet and not have half my body lurching towards one side or the other. I know they say all good things must come to an end, but I thought I’d found an eternal resting place here. I guess even heaven has to be renovated sometimes. So long, sweet dysfunction, I dearly love ye. 

related stories