Of All the Gin Joints, in All the Towns, in All the World…

…and you idiots chose to hang out in front of my bathroom.

It seems like every time I go use the bathroom at work, there is a group of men standing right in front of the restroom door, shooting the breeze. Why? Why is this ‘the place to be.’ Do you enjoy the ambiance? Can’t get enough of that refreshing public bathroom scent? Or maybe this is a great place to pick up women?

“So, do you come here often?”

“Yes, about four times a day, ever since I started drinking a liter of water before lunch.”

Can you please.go.stand.SOMEWHERE ELSE!? I don’t know why it bothers me so much. Even though using the bathroom is a perfectly normal and acceptable thing to do, I always feel slightly embarrassed and ‘caught in the act’ if I have to make eye contact with someone as I walk in or out. No matter how hard I try to look normal, my eyes just scream, “I was just sitting on the toilet and we both know it, awkward!” I always blush and have some kind of “Busted!” look on my face.

And it’s not just that these guys loiter around the door. They stand right in front of it, as if they are guarding it. Like they are going to ask me to “answer me these questions three” before they let me pass. So I always have to awkwardly cut through their conversation to get inside. You’d think that would be a wake up call. Like, “Oh, haha, wow I am standing right in front of the door to the women’s restroom, like a fucking creep, maybe I should move over a foot or two.” But no.

Another layer of discomfort is added to the situation if the same group of guys is standing there when you walk in and when you walk out. I feel like the meter is running on me. Like their conversation is going to time stamp my trip to the bathroom. “Wow, she was in there that whole time? When she went in we were talking about Syria and when she came out we were listing all the food trucks we’ve been to.” If you think I am being overly paranoid, you are wrong. If you think I flatter myself that anyone would notice how long I’ve been in the bathroom, think again. People notice. In my first week at a previous job, a male coworker pointed something out to me when a female coworker stepped out of the office. “See that, she is off to take her afternoon dump. 2:00 every day. You’ll see.” I learned two important things that day. 1. Don’t use the bathroom around 2:10 and 2. People notice everything.

Maybe it would help if I said something to these men. Not something like, “Excuse me.” No, something more aggressive and implicative like, “Do you often loiter outside women’s restrooms?” or “Is there anywhere else in this hallway you could stand so that I don’t have to request your permission to use the bathroom?” Or something else intended to humiliate and question their character. I know that would give me a good enough reason to stand somewhere else.

What do you think?

Middle School Picture Day? Yes, Please Memorialize the Most Awkward Time of My Life

You don’t know it at the time, but Middle School Picture Day is for you. Elementary School Picture Day is most definitely for your parents, because they know they are about to lose you, and want to capture these last moments of cuteness. High School Picture Day is definitely for you, because you finally look remotely decent and you’ve got a professional there to document it.

But Middle School Picture Day? Who is that helping? Who is ever going to want to look at this atrocity, you think to yourself as you sit hunched over on a stool because you are still feeling a little awkward about having boobs, smiling tentatively for the photographer, careful not to snag your lips on your braces. Your parents aren’t going to show that shit around, “Here is my daughter, she’s going through puberty, it’s not going well.” You aren’t going to pass these out to your friends, “In case you don’t get a good enough look all day, here is a terrible photo of me for your amusement on nights and weekends.” And you certainly don’t want them for yourself. You already know that when the proofs are handed out in class you are going to turn them face down, shove them into your trapper keeper, and cut them into tiny pieces as soon as you get home, as you cry to yourself, “Is that what I really look like?!”

Photo Credit: nedhardy.com

Photo Credit: nedhardy.com

No, you don’t know it then. But the Middle School Picture is for you. It’s just for you in ten years. When you have transformed from an ugly duckling into a swan, and can look back on that picture and appreciate how far you’ve come. It’s for you to turn to on a shitty day and think, Actually, I can’t complain. At least I don’t have braces. At least I don’t shop at the Limited Too anymore. And at least I’m not in the seventh circle of hell grade. Yeah, I guess my life is pretty good. It’s for you to trot out at work and social events to shock and amaze your audience. “Yup, I swear, that fat kid with the uni-brow, that was me.”  The hideous portrait you once cried yourself to sleep over is now an affirmation of self, because of how little you resemble it. The Awkward Middle School Picture is a battle scar. It says: look at what I have overcome. I survived that. You don’t know it then – that one day you’d be proud to have ever been so ugly.

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