There’s an unbelievable sound coming from that bathroom
by Rebecca Congleton
I don’t know what it was about this particular combination of ceiling height, floor tile, bare walls, and hollow openness, but the sound quality in this gas station ladies’ room was glorious, and that is no exaggeration.
It’s something I’ve been known to do; warm up my pipes in a gas station bathroom before arriving at a venue, where our band, theSurrendering, will no doubt be asked to sound-check within minutes of walking through the door. No one wants to sing cold, not even for the sound man and the stage manager, so I often belt out a few bars and freshen up my hair and make-up, while the boys pump fuel or get snacks, especially if it’s been a long drive.
There are about four hours of highway between our home and the venue we were headed to in Fort Wayne, so not only was my voice sleepy, the glamorous look I had fashioned before we had left, that afternoon, now looked a bit road-weary.
Seeing that there were no other ladies hanging around, waiting to take care of business, I shut the restroom door, locked it, and began my normal routine. As soon as I started singing, I could tell something was different about this room. Now, normally I try to warm up my voice at least semi-discreetly, so I do not sound like a total maniac, but once I heard the incredible sound quality in this ladies’ room, there was no holding back. I belted out the chorus to our opening song and smiled gleefully! If you could have heard what I heard, you would have marveled, and possibly searched me for a hidden Bose system. It was unbelievable! My voice came back to my ear with the perfect amount of “natural” reverb and with such power and clarity!
“Forget the venue,” I thought. “Let’s just invite the crowd here! We can open up the bathroom door, they can all sit there in the snack area, and I’ll sing like I’ve never sang before.”
Finally, I came to my senses and realized the gas station employees, my band-mates, and a couple dozen random customers were probably gathered outside the bathroom door gawking and laughing hysterically by now.
More excited than embarrassed, I gathered up my make-up and purse and burst out the door. I couldn’t wait to tell someone about this amazing performance hall, masquerading as a ladies’ restroom!
I quickly observed that the rest of the band was now waiting for me in the van. Resolved to share my discovery with anyone who would listen, I turned to the cashier (who looked at me like I was an alien, not just an alien, how about an alien speaking Chinese, holding a sign that says “I am a moron”). I began to enlighten her about the magnificent secret vocal booth she has in her beautiful little convenience store (she may have been looking at me like I was nuts, but the little bluebirds of bliss were still singing on my shoulders). She smiled at me, you know the kind of smile you offer up to a person you sincerely suspect is insane. She said she had heard me singing, but it was clear my enthusiasm was completely lost on her.
A little deflated, I walked to the van and shared my heavenly experience with the guys. They too were less than ready to abandon coffee shops and festivals for a “toilet tour”, but at least my husband said he had heard me singing and was quite impressed with the superiority of the bathroom’s acoustics.
Running behind (due in part to my brief bathroom concert), we headed on down the road. I continued to comment on the amazing sound amplification in that small ladies’ restroom for a few miles more, but I eventually realized that only a truly devoted bathroom singer could appreciate its uniqueness. I may have even fantasized a bit about having a contractor build an exact replica of the room in our dream home. I could have sung in there for hours. My only regret is that I didn’t write down the name and location of the gas station, so I could come back and visit!
By now you have figured out that I do not embarrass easily, and when I find myself in the midst of a perfect opportunity for humiliation, I am usually too distracted by this beautiful life I live to notice. There aren’t many people who would sing at the top of their lungs in a gas station bathroom. There are probably even fewer who would write an entire column about it. But this is just who I am. I’m the lead singer of a rock band. I’m also a writer, a wife, a mom, and admittedly a bit ridiculous. And when I’m on stage, I’m the girl in front.