Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Secrets Of The Ladies Room

At the end of the movie Titanic, the old woman tells someone (perhaps her granddaughter) that 'a woman's heart is a deep ocean of secrets.' Ain't that the truth. And perhaps never more so than in the bathroom.

When I was a little girl, I found myself in a bathroom related situation. I went to the girl's room of my nursery school, and for reasons I can't now recall, decided the rest of my day would be better if I were not wearing panties. So I removed them. And then noticed that my pants didn't have pockets. And then decided to leave my panties on top of the toilet.

Okay, yes. Somewhere in between my decision to visit the bathroom and decision to remove my underwear, might have been the not-so-uncommon-for-four-year-olds occurrence of a bit of leakage. Happy now?

I returned to the playroom and went on about life. Ten minutes later, one of the teachers appeared in the doorway. To four year old me, she looked about nine feet tall. Especially because she was hoisting my panties in the air.

"Do these belong to anyone? Who's are these?"

Even then, I wondered if she really expected anyone to answer. I was in a room with twenty other children. What was I supposed to do, say "Wow, I've been looking for those!" and toddle over to retrieve them? Not on your life. Instead, I shook my head back and forth with the rest of the kids and spent the rest of the day in fear that the teachers would do a panty check. They never did.

And I don't recall that my mother ever noticed that I came home sans drawers. I mean, this was the seventies. Parents were less concerned then about what might have happened to their children's underwear in school.

Why was I reminded of this?

Just now, I visited the ladies room here at work. I was in a stall when I heard, a few stalls down, the sound of an empty toilet paper roll being spun and someone exclaiming, "Oh no!"

Then I heard the sound of the toilet seat liner dispenser dispensing liner. And lots of rustling.

And then I flushed.

I don't think the poor, toilet paper challenged person knew I was in there before I flushed, because as soon as my bowl went 'whoosh' the other stall went silent. You know how it sounds when someone is attempting to be perfectly still and silent? That was the sound, or lack thereof, from the mystery woman's stall as I washed my hands and exited the bathroom.

I can only imagine how long she might have waited to be sure I didn't return or stand outside to see who she was (as if I would do that. I mean, it's not Friday or anything).

Poor woman. Now having to carry the secret of having wiped herself with a seat liner. Of wishing she'd checked the roll before unbuttoning her pants (I mean, really. Always check the roll, people).

If she'd emerged, I would have done the right thing: avoided eye contact and minded my own business. After all, not everyone can say they've seen their own panties waving in the air in front of twenty of their peers. I am a person who can understand the need to keep a bathroom secret.

And I can proudly say I am also now a person who can understand the need to always remain in possession of one's panties.

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