by Zach Roberge, River Editor
I wish I had gotten a picture, but I was drunk and it was a bathroom.
I had a magical night bar hopping with a group of non-French people who were spending time in Le Mans, same as me. We’d decided the night was called, “Drunk Day,” and it started at the bar, O Brassin Belge, though I was told its nickname was, The Belgian Bar. This was to be my first social drinking experience in France, and the first bar greeted me with life-sized foam sculptures of Marvel characters: Wolverine, The Hulk, Captain American, and on its Shot-Of-The-Day sign was written details about their Superman and Batman shots. The bar itself was quaint, a little enclosing with black, leather covers on dark-stained, wooden seats, but the music was good and a football (soccer) game was on several TVs mounted on the walls.
After several drinks at the Belgian Bar and after I was almost killed for saying football would be more exciting if the field was smaller and there were less players (because they’d run into each other a lot more) we moved on to our next destination and were joined by more people. At this point, with a joke-filled atmosphere, the people I didn’t already know, I began growing more comfortable around. Our next bar was named Le Chicago and it had a tropical feel. The seats were wooden, folding chairs and the tables were barrels. Here, through mojitos and blended drinks, I became mesmerized with the bar’s amazing, blinking bathroom sign. I didn’t realize it would foreshadow the highlight of my night.
The design wasn’t anything special. It had a silhouette of a person and next to the person was the words “Le Toilet.” The brilliance of the sign, and what made me stare, was its mechanics: it lit up when the bathroom was available and went off when the bathroom was occupied. For some strange reason drunk me became fascinated by it, and, through a good portion of our time in Le Chicago, we all laughed as I had people go to the bathroom to make sure the sign did turn off and on as I thought it did. When I’d finally proved it, a person in the group, who had been to the bar before, exclaimed, “Wow! I’ve never noticed that before.”
After several drinks at Le Chicago we moved onto Le Saint Flaceau. Though, we almost didn’t because the place was considered fancy and the group was worried we were under-dressed. I told them I felt under-dressed in France every day, and it convinced them so we went. I’m glad we did because this place changed my life forever. It was Victorian-styled, ritzy, with cross-stitched seats. There were oil paintings of the walls and it even had a wandering cat that I petted. Everything was nice and expensive-looking (even the cat), and it was made even better because they served mixed drinks in giant, plastic, margarita glasses with flamboyant accouterments, such as pink masks with tassels. I only got a small glass of after-work wine, but the others got the fancy glasses and it made me happy.
But, the life-changing moment didn’t come until after a little time at Le Saint Flaceau, when I ended up needing the restroom. The group giggled when I asked where it was and I didn’t understand why. They pointed me in the right direction and I was still confused until I opened the door to a single-user bathroom. I was greeted by perhaps the most spectacular toilet I have ever seen. It was elevated on a platform, it had arm rests on either side with cup holders, it had a carved, wooden back rest with a crown hanging on the edge, and there was a thick red tapestry hung behind it. It was genuinely a throne, and though such a toilet will never be as magnificent, I don’t remember even sitting on it.