Friday, October 20, 2006

where no woman has gone before

From time to time, I find myself in a men's bathroom. Not for any illicit reason. Unless peeing is illicit. I'll have to consult my social conservatism handbook on that one. But sometimes, a girl has to go pee with the boys. This doesn't bother me at all, as I grew up in what I now realize was a rather bohemian household, but at the time seemed quite normal.

So last weekend, I went to see "After Mrs. Rochester" with my father. Interesting play -- stirred up thoughts on being a writer versus being a parent and the idea of perfection of the life versus perfection of the work. But that's a much more serious discussion to have somewhere far away from the salty-meets-sweet combination of silliness and near-constant political vitriol that is this blog.

So, at the play, there was a line for the ladies room just prior to the performance. I say it was a line, but it was really more of a collection of female persons in a hallway, all facing different directions as though they were posing for the cover of their CD. In an episode of "South Park."

I asked the woman I was closest to -- who was facing southwest, I believe -- if this was the line for the bathroom. Considering the way the other people were assembled and the habit women have of standing around a bathroom waiting for their friends, I did not think this was a silly question. She looked at me as if I'd just asked her if she were waiting for a bus. "Yes," she said, "it is." She said it so coldly and slowly that I had the time to narrate "she said" in the middle of her sentence.

I should mention that this play was being performed in the Braddock Carnegie Library, a building which, though it is a building, is my father's favorite child. Consequently, I know it fairly well. Not well enough to direct a tour, but well enough that I know where the other bathrooms are. It had occurred to me that I ought to take a collection of people downstairs if this modern-art assembly was actually a bathroom line, but because of the aforementioned exchange where I narrated a not-so-nice woman, I decided they could all fuck off. It only takes one to ruin it for the rest of the class. Or line.

So I turned around and was getting ready to walk downstairs when a man said, "No one's in the men's room." I heard the tiniest snort behind me and I decided that if it was going to bother that woman, I'd go pee in the men's room. I turned around and asked if anyone would rather go before me, because, after all, it was a line. Also, I wanted to get a look at that woman's face. It occurs to me now that she probably looks like that all the time.

So I went in, I peed, and I came out. There was a different guy standing outside and he said, "Wow! Going in the men's room!" Guys are usually surprised. Once, at a truck stop at about 3:00 AM, I walked out of a men's room (the women's room had been vandalized and was nauseating to the point that even I couldn't use it) and I made a guy nearly jump out of his skin. I think he got out three "Oh, miss, I am so sorry"-ies before I convinced him that it was in fact I who was in the "wrong" room. But never have I previously experienced what happened to me last Saturday night.

The same guy said, "All right!" and clapped me on the shoulder as I walked out the door. Women tend to chat with strangers, especially in a bathroom, and my understanding is that men generally do not. In fact, they go out of their way to avoid contact with men they don't know, especially in bathrooms, and carefully calculate buffer zones between themselves and their fellow urinators. (Tearooms would be a whole different category with a decidedly different code of conduct. Which I also know a little something about. Don't ask.) My point is, men don't high-five each other for peeing, so I have to conclude that he was applauding my apparent bravery for going pee in a room that has a picture of a person wearing pants painted on the door.

I guess next time I'll just use the bucket in the janitor's closet.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

i hope there's an afterlife because i want my slave-owning bastard relatives to be able to watch little scenes like this while they roast in hell

Sometimes, I really hate white people. And then immediately after that thought, I look down at my arm and say "God damn it!"

Over the weekend, Mom and I stopped at the grocery store after we'd done some shopping (by which I mean we made fun of things at Pier 1 -- what the hell is up with their latest stuff? Usually I love their things, but we saw silver and gold teddy bears. The fuck? We decided to leave during the brief window that comes between us both cracking up and the manager asking us to leave).

So we're at the home grocery store. Everyone in America knows what I mean -- there's the grocery store you go to that's close to your house, and then there's another one, maybe even in the same chain, that's farther away, but nicer in some respect. Maybe it's cleaner or better-lit or has a wider, fresher selection -- maybe all three.

Our home grocery store is the Giant Eagle in Braddock Hills. I don't want to give anyone the impression that I think this store is ghetto -- it's not. It doesn't have the huge variety of the Giant Eagle at the Waterfront, and sure, the bank branch in it has been robbed a couple times, but whatever. This is Pittsburgh. Every bank has been robbed a couple times. I've been going to this grocery store for over 20 years and some of the same people have been working there the entire time. Pretty much everyone who goes to this store has been going there for that long, if not much, much longer.

My point is this -- unless you're under the age of 2, this isn't gonna be your first time there.

So I'm standing at the deli counter waiting for my turn and talking to the lady in front of me and her kids. (Side note -- having one random little kid start talking to you out of the blue is awesome. Having her little sister grab your hand while you're talking is like a religious experience.)

Including the deli staff, the only other white woman around was an extremely sour-faced old bat with hairdresser hair. You know what I mean -- the short, blue-white hair done in ridiculous curls and then sprayed with some kind of sealant so it lasts until next week when she goes back to the hairdresser and "gets set."

So, Sour Face is before me. It's cool. The lady with the kids left, and I smiled at Sour Face. She gave me a weird look and then ordered the deli girl around like she thought we'd all been transported to a tobacco field in South Carolina around 1837. Part of her orders included "I don't want the slice on top." I have no idea why. Maybe she has OCD or schizophrenia and the voices in her head don't like their lunch meat exposed to too much air.

So, as the girl grabbed the entire stack of bologna and weighed it, Sour Face gave me another look. This one I understood immediately, because I've seen it on many an old white bitch in my life. It's the look that says, "Oh, these silly Negroes!" and it's usually followed by a giant spike in my blood pressure. I gave her a look of my own and I don't think it's the one she thought she'd be getting back, because she immediately started studying a stack of Ham Off The Bone.

"I didn't give you the one on top," said the deli girl as she flipped a decidedly flaccid- and anemic-looking slice of bologna back into the case, which I think showed a great deal of self-control, because the temptation to flip it into Sour Face's hair and say, "Don't worry, it's on the house," must have been absolutely overwhelming.

I exchanged a look with the deli girl, which sent Sour Face into some sort of palpitating state -- perhaps the vapors -- and that pleased me to such an extent that I nearly forgot what kind of turkey I wanted.

And just for the record, if the deli girl had whipped that bologna at that old bat, I would have told the manager that Sour Face did it to herself.