Recently, I found myself at a local rock club quite a bit in advance of the show I was set to see. Not a problem, really – I’d amuse myself by sipping a beer, noticing how much one of the liquor bottles behind the bar looked like an old Log Cabin syrup bottle, and by using the ladies’ room before the club got so filled up it would be difficult to push my way through the crowd to get there. I lead a simple life.

This is fact: you never know quite what you are going to see when you enter a Rock n’ Roll Toilet. They are often quite interestingly decorated, but the size and cleanliness factors can vary widely. I’ve been in venue bathrooms that have been as clean and spacious and pretty as Nordstrom’s, and in ones that have no stall doors, no toilet paper (common), no door locks, no mirror, no soap, no paper towels, no hot water, no water at all, no lights (that was bad), or that have been so incredibly disturbingly filthy I’ve looked in and turned right around and walked out, bladder be damned. But this one wasn’t too bad: a cramped three-staller with no door locks and moderately dirty, but with lights, paper, water, and soap.

There was only one other person in the bathroom, a tall young girl putting on makeup in the mirror. As I was washing my hands at the sink, she apologized to me for having her makeup bag and assorted stuff strewn over the counter.

“Some fancy dressing room, huh?” she laughed.

I laughed back. “So, you are in the opening band?” I asked as my hands dripped water on her bag on the way to the paper towel machine.

“Yup.” She nodded slightly as she struggled to apply liquid eyeliner, flecks and streaks of it dotting her eyelid. “I can’t seem to get this eyeliner on at all. I suck.” She dabbed at her eye with the brush, blinking and wobbling.

As I dried my hands, I watched her, smiling to myself. It would have been about 30 years ago when I was similarly struggling to master the art of liquid eyeliner, trying to get that ‘60s/Cleopatra look in wide black swaths of sexy promise. I first tried with some cake eyeliner that I found in my mom’s bathroom drawer, the kind you would wet first. It must’ve been from the ‘50s, because I could not remember my mother ever wearing makeup, much less va-va-voom eyeliner. I failed mightily, time after time, like this girl was, trying to rub the misplaced black smudges off, swearing at my unsteady hand. I did eventually get the hang of it, but by then I realized that no amount of perfectly-drawn eyeliner would change the fact that I also wore big dumb glasses and looked like Helga from The Dairy Council. I would not be morphing into Cleopatra, any more than the club patrons in this particular bar would be able to tell that this girl was wearing eyeliner at all, given the extremely weak stage lighting. But, you know. We try.

I spoke up. “Listen, I am from the ‘60s. It’s kind of an art to put on liquid eyeliner. You gotta first put on your eyeshadow, then put little dots of eyeliner close to the lashes all the way across the eye. Pull your eye skin with your other hand so you have sort of a flat line, take a breath and hold it, then draw one line over the dots from inner to outer corners. Blink quietly until it’s dry.”

The girl laughed and smiled at me, pausing her efforts. “Thanks!”

“No problem,” I said, as I walked out. “Have a great show.”

I lead a simple, if mildly rock n’ roll, life.

The Soft Boys, "Rock n' Roll Toilet"