Friday, December 29, 2006

bathroom snaps and hotcakes

Some day I will snap and tell all the secrets and behind-the-backs I’ve been told, thereby bloody-facing the melodrama that gets fabricated in this workplace.

That said, I’ve got another bathroom tale.

Last week, someone beat me to the closer bathroom so I trekked to the far bathroom that smells like flowers and poop. One person was in one stall; I went to the other. As I was shutting the door, I saw That Woman (our office leader who wants to steal both my office and my potential for smiling) come in as the person in the other stall came out. They began speaking a craggy string of names and office politics. I didn’t care. I don’t care. I won’t care. Besides, I was peeing, a time during which I tune out things involving other people.

They began whispering. Clearly dirty gossip was happening. One of them (M) said to the other, "Who’s in there?" And they took their whisper a notch quieter. "I think it’s Sara," one of them said, and they continued to whisper. One always hears one’s name in whispers, whether it’s there or not.

And then M said: "I shouldn’t be looking in there."

I looked up and the woman was actually looking into my stall through the crack where the door latches.

My first thought: "What the fuck?" Dignified and real. My second thought: "What the fuck."

When I came out of the stall, That Woman said, "Oh it’s Sara. She’s Switzerland. She won’t talk."

And, no, I wouldn’t talk because, like I said, I don’t care. However, because my privacy had just been seriously invaded, I wanted to talk, though I would never do so, and I hadn’t actually heard anything anyway—because I keep to myself in the bathroom.

"I actually have Swiss ancestry," I said to them. This is true, and it was the only thing I could think of to say to keep from feeling uncomfortable and glaring hot strawberries into their cheeks.

That Woman tried to make conversation about my new haircut, but I was done with them. Or so I thought.

Later in the day we had farewell office cake for one of the staff. I walked in and sat in one of few available seats, which happened to put me between That Woman and M.

(History: for some reason, at work, I can’t put food of any kind into my mouth without somebody commenting on how much or how little I’m eating, or simply observing and naming what I’m eating, followed by a comment that I’m thin. For those of you who have never seen me, I’m thin but not grossly so. I'll say no more so and instead bite my bitter.)

M looked at my empty plate and said (to me, mind you): "Look, Sara finished her whole piece of cake."

I like cake.

I had no response. I don’t think an appropriate one is possible.

M: "I just didn’t know you ate cake. I mean I’ve never seen you eat cake. It’s just that you’re so thin. I mean, do you eat?"

Me: "I’d be dead if I didn’t."

(pause) (pause) (pause)

M: "I just meant do you eat a lot…"

I don’t know what else she said. I tuned her out. It was clear I’d caught her off guard and offended her. I considered apologizing for being short with her. But objectively I thought it was a funny piece of dialogue between us and, besides, she’d looked in at me while I was using the bathroom. She needed a snap in the face.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

fantasy football in the white-tile way

Stupid tired is the day, in which sense I am the day.

Here is a fantasy I keep having on my way to the bathroom here at the hospital—but first the backstory:

Where my office at work used to be, the closest bathroom is a two-staller which is always out of at least one of the following: toilet seat covers, toilet paper, hand soap, or paper towels. And always it smells like any of the following combinations: flowers + poop, papaya + poop, pine + poop. You get the idea.

Where my office is now, the closest bathroom is a private, one-person, spacious room with a toilet and sink. What a boon. Unfortunately, this bathroom is often occupied. Worse, however, is this:

I’m on my way, walking fast as I always do—and yet faster when I think I hear footsteps that sound like they're headed to the bathroom. (This is what urgent pointed purpose sounds like, no matter particular click or pad of the shoe on the tile. It’s the way it hits that speaks clearly.) One of two things often happens:

1. Someone walks out into the hallway just before I do, in front of me, and I can hear by the footsteps, see by the sway of the back of the head, that that person is headed to where I’m headed.

2. Someone rounds the corner, from the direction opposite me, and heads toward the bathroom. This person will beat me there because the corner is just a leap from the bathroom door, while I still have a whole hallway to cover.

My fantasy is this, and I’m particularly eager to enact it on people in Category 1 because those people will be unsuspecting:

Just as Person 1 reaches the bathroom door, I take off running at him or her (it’s usually a her), leap quietly like a cat from a few feet away, pushing the person aside, and, as I land in the bathroom, kick shut the door.

Person 1 would never know what hit her. And she, instead of I, would have to pad a little further to the two-stall bathroom where people are likely to enter and launch into talk, sigh, or moan.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Never imagined I’d find myself watching boxing on TV in a room full of Germans. Being in the presence of multilingual, even bilingual, people makes me feel dumb and lazy. I love language, but I cannot speak another language well enough to communicate. I’ve spent many hours and pencils memorizing grammars and reading the codes. In high school, French, but that was high school, and not having spent any time around the French, the nasally strings of vowels are half-sleeping in me. In college, Latin and Greek (the latter of the ancient variety, which is nothing like the modern spoken variety). I haven’t spent any time around long-dead toga-wearing folk either. In a room with only three native English-speakers, the dozen Germans that night for the most part spoke English.

I continue to find myself with polyglots. They’re speaking to each other, to me, to waiters, reading menus, and I’m looking like a deer. One girl, Polish, told me I’m lucky to know English because things are easier and more accessible that way. I suppose this is true, but that isn’t my way of life. Making things more difficult than they need to be is part of my personality. (Why? I asked the tree. It could not tell me. And so I licked it.) Meanwhile I try to rake back languages I’ve learned and begun to lose, by bobbing my head in occasional buckets of it. You should see my wet wet chin.

And there are other sorts of languages to learn: those of boxing and football. Before I die I will understand why it’s engaging to watch two men pummel each other when they’re not angry about anything (and maybe why people pay hundreds of dollars to see this done live). I made some headway regarding football, the American variety, this weekend. Why learn these languages? Because I don’t want to leave any avenue untouched. Because I’m a pervert in the park.