On Katy Perry’s Bathroom Selfie and Forgotten Pleasure of Going Out-Out

Adelicia Caree

Not to open on too much of a downer, but something about Katy Perry’s American Idol bathroom selfie stirred a feeling in me that I thought had died over lockdown. It’s not that I completely lost my hope for a good party over the last year; I still believed in a brighter, […]

Not to open on too much of a downer, but something about Katy Perry’s American Idol bathroom selfie stirred a feeling in me that I thought had died over lockdown. It’s not that I completely lost my hope for a good party over the last year; I still believed in a brighter, post-pandemic life. But the constant desire to regain what had been taken away—basic freedoms we all took for granted—started to hurt more than they inspired. I was cocooned in the imaginary fever dream of a party until, suddenly, I wasn’t. As the months dragged, I stopped reminiscing for my old life—the jazzy shirts and pinchy shoes—and succumbed to soft clothes and heightened screen time of extrovert purgatory. In what I assume is a survival mechanism for the chronically gregarious, I adapted a lightly agoraphobic approach to living, focusing on my immediate surroundings and shunning the outside world. I stopped pinning for nuggets of adventure. 

But all was not lost. That party feeling wasn’t dead, so much as deeply buried like Excalibur—Katy Perry my King Arthur prising it free. The pop princess in a nice dress, teetering on the bog like a bird on a wire, instantaneously reminded me of being out-out. Not an afternoon at the cinema alone, not a date with my husband, not dinner with friends, or the thrill of being out on a school night. I remembered that feeling of being properly out. All the way out. Stellar nights of unparalleled brilliance dialed up to a billion, soaring upwards and outwards, past the point of no return, not a drop of energy for the journey back, no parachute for the descent. 

You might have missed this feeling too? The unbridledness of a proper party, of old friends or new people and light-up dancefloors or dingy kitchen discos with a phone in a pint glass. I forgot how good it feels to be footloose and fancy-free, drinking doubles and giving good face. In my weakest moments, I even miss bumping into people I don’t like and making awkward small talk while trying to Poltergeist them away. I miss the swollen feet and the feeling of other people’s drinks on my clothes. I miss missing the “are you okay?” texts from my husband as unread news alerts vibrate in my pocket. I miss giving hugs to absolutely anyone (okay, maybe we’ll never get back to the point someone identifies as a hugger and we don’t all flinch). I miss meeting a new best friend, a soulmate, a stranger that’s changing my life forever and knowing I’m invincible with her at my side. I miss immediately losing her, and my phone, and the cloakroom ticket. 

The out-out feeling is most concentrated in the loos, glancing at your smudged face in the mirror. It’s not a selfie moment in the loos, nor is it those weird fake mirror selfies of Gen Z. It’s a Polaroid committed to memory. A paused glitch in the rolling tape of a good night. Perry’s loo was chic—I suspect Lionel Richie was shooting his own outfit in an adjacent stall—but yours is fine if it has enough paper towels and sufficient lighting. 

So cut to me in the wee hours, in the hardest pants I could find, crawling out of an Uber and into my house for instant noodles, a fried egg, and hot sauce. I might make it to bed but the sofa is right here. As dawn breaks, the night will come back to me in memory Polaroids—the glitz, the grime, and my eyes in the bathroom mirror. 

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