Restroom Reflection

Posted: April 6, 2015 in New stuff
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I remember the smell of processed sugar beets mixed with the meat processing plant and swirling around me as I hastily got out of my car.  It reminded me of coming home from a week long summer camping trip to realize that someone had accidently left the steaks out on top of the freezer in one hundred degrees.  There is no description to give you a sense of what that smells like.  If you’ve never experienced it, be happy.  Even a ghost of the smell is enough to engage a gag reflex.

I mentally closed off my nose and breathed shallowly.  Everyone around me, as we treked into Wal-Mart, was doing the same.  Head down, mouth pinched into a tiny breathing hole, and shoulders raised as if to protect yourself from the onslaught of malodor.   Some women even wrapped their headscarfs aroudn their faces.  

But, the smell wasn’t the whole reason I hastened inside, however.  I wasn’t as desparate to remove myself from the smell as I was desparate to relieve my screaming bladder.  My urgency was foremost on my mind as I scissor-walked through the sliding doors and into the cool, loud world of Wal-mart.  


I had just come from a meeting that had taken longer than I’d anticipated.  We’d chatted like old friends and laughed while we drank coffee after coffee, then switched to water.  I drank three glasses of water and three cups of coffee in an hour and a half.

My urgent  issue didn’t raise it’s ugly head, though, until I was in the car, on the freeway heading home.  My bladder’s communication must have been a little slow that day.  When it decided it was ready to empty itself, there was no gradual escalation.  One moment I was rehashing how my meeting had gone and the next moment, I was hunched over the steering wheel begging my  bladder for time, just a little more time to get to the restroom. I tried to keep my thighs squeezed together and hoped the kegel exercises worked.  Thankfully, there was an exit and a Wal-Mart.

As I walked inside, I prayed there was no one in the place.  I turned left and saw the bathroom halfway down the row of checkout stands.  My prayers weren’t going to get answered that day.  It was a feeble prayer, really.  When is Wal-Mart ever silent?  I took a deep breath as I surveyed my path.  There were seven lanes of people between me and that restroom.  This was an obstacle course of customers at checkout.  It would be a marathon to reach my goal.   

I could do this.  I would do this.  My scissor walk became a scissor fast-walk.  My vision narrowed to the pinpoint of light shining on the sign, Restrooms.  The finish line would be the last stall.

I swerved around the mother with two kids in tow and one in the cart, yelling at the toddler to put the gum back. 

I side-stepped the older couple as he bent to help his wife put bags in the cart three feet too far from the register and halfway into the walkway.

I shouldered past the teens loitering as their friend purchased energy drinks.

My resolve was waning.  I started muttering to myself.  

I can do this.

I will do this.

The restroom is right there.

My goal was within reach! 

I was going to make it!

The relief I felt at reaching my goal was seconded only by the relief as I closed the door, wrestled with the slacks and finally, sat down to pee.

My sight expanded.  I felt as if the weight of the world was being lifted from me.  It brought a little moisture to my eyes.

I finished, wiped, and flushed.  

I felt new and light.  As if the world couldn’t get me down.  I had won the race to the restroom.  Now I could concentrate on driving back to the city and to my next meeting.

I opened the door, adjusting my jacket, and walked to the sinks.  My mind registered a strange set up for a restroom.  But my joy overtook my mind’s warning signals and I bent to wash my hands.  I felt my relieved smile stretch the previously pinched corners of my mouth.  

I had made it.  No embarrassing accidents for me.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman standing in front of something.  At first, I couldn’t wrap my mind around what it was.  She was standing open legged, but out of courtesy, I didn’t look directly at her.  I glanced up in the mirror.  

I saw everything at once.

That wasn’t a woman standing at the wall, it was a man standing at the urinal. 

The horror of the situation fell on me like a hatchet from a slasher movie.

I had used the men’s restroom.

Not only had I used the men’s restroom, I was standing at the sink washing my hands as a man was using the facilities at the same time.

Had he been there before?  Did I just notice him?  I realized he must have come in while I was sitting in the back stall, head full of cloudless, blue sky relief.

He was looking at me in the mirror.  We locked eyes.  I heard the sound of a stream flow turn to a trickle, then die.  The shock was obvious to us both.

I had no idea what to say or do.  I stayed bent over the sink. The water stopped flowing over my hands.  The silence was broken only by muted sounds of shoppers outside the restroom. 

I did what any woman would do.

I straightened up.

I smiled.

And before I turned to quickly dry my hands and leave, I said, “Sorry, I had to pee.”

His face continued to reflect slack-jawed shock as I strode out of the restroom hoping to go unnoticed.

But today, my luck would not hold.

Apparently, he hadn’t come to this store alone.  His other half was waiting with a cart full of groceries and a child on her hip.  She looked at me then up to the men’s sign and back at me.  The look of shock, accusation, and suspicion in her dark brown eyes was a reflection of her boyfriend’s inside.  The child chortled and cooed.

I did what any woman would do.

I squared my shoulders and said, “I didn’t see anything.  I swear.”

And before she could answer or react, I strode out of the Wal-Mart and vowed never to return.  The smell of rotten meat and processed sugar beets embraced my retreat.

  1. Cristen Iris says:

    Hahahaha!!!! Loved it. 🙂


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