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.


Scott said...

HA! You Go Girl! :-) I would have peed in her clutch purse and wiped up with her parka.

cindy said...

Oh my god. So. This weekend. I was standing in line at Salvation Army, leaving space for people to walk in front of me so as to avoid CHAOS at the register.

This man standing behind me starting saying, "Cash or charge. Pick a line. Step up. Where you going?" I only realized he was talking to me when he stuck his face RIGHT BETWEEN my friend and I, then repeated his statements.

So I turned around and said, "Excuse me?" Then he said, "You need to step up. Someone is going to get in front of you if you don't step up." The entire time he is standing about an inch from me.

I said to him, "Oh. Well you see. I generally like to give people space when I am standing in line. You know, so as not to crowd them or cause chaos, stress, and frustration."

I smiled, turned around and took one TINY step forward.

Moments like that make me miss my wifey.