A guest in a traditional Southern home, now a comfortable inn, I was sitting and musing — not to put too fine a point on it — on the toilet. The bathroom wasn’t private, but only in the sense that it was in a public area and any guest could use it. At the time, though, it was mine, at least until I unlocked the door.
Without warning, a startling “click!” interrupted my reverie and disrupted my composure. Spooked, I looked toward the sound and spotted a sinister device that was almost hidden from view across from me in the narrow space between the sink and the wall. It appeared to have an eye or a lens, and in far less time than it takes to write this, I thought of the ineluctable surveillance cameras that dog us everywhere, recording every move, taking note of height, clothing, headgear, companions — everything. In fact, I had just taken part in a discussion about the complete loss of any remaining shred of privacy in the 21st century.
Americans have relinquished the privacy they used to take for granted. They have reluctantly submitted to the ubiquity of hidden cameras — yes, but in the bathroom? That’s a lot more quirky than your standard Big Brother that lurks in public spaces.
As paranoid scenarios of kinky stalkers and lewd snoops grabbed hold of my imagination, I became aware of a sweet and flowery scent that suddenly suffused the small chamber. Slowly, I realized that the “lens” was the aperture that delivered a puff of perfume when the eye, probably a motion sensor, detected a person in the room. Creepy.