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Day #328: Gut Check

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The Story:

“Oh God, what do I do?” I thought, suddenly frozen by indecision. I hadn’t expected to have a moment of social crisis, in here of all places, but here I was, presented with one of the more awkward situations I could remember. I would have to make a decision- and soon. Wondering why these sort of things always tended to happen to me, I almost giggled as I imagined that everyone, some time or another found themselves facing a similar situation and thinking that same ‘why me?’ thought.

“Do I say something? Do I check? Do I just leave and hope for the best?” my options spun through my head as I sat immobilized by the thought of actually having to act. “Maybe it’ll resolve itself? I shouldn’t pry… it’s none of my business after all… I don’t want to make it worse, or embarrass them…” the excuses to remain hidden and uninvolved wrapped me in a shroud of guilty comfort.

A few more minutes passed and it was beginning to become difficult to breathe. The increasingly noxious odor perforated my rationale and suffocated any hope for logic. I had to get out of there… but how would I handle my exit? Graciously and humanely, demonstrating a genuine concern for my ‘fellow man’ or just cut my losses and high tail it out of there, social responsibility be damned?

Suddenly, the choice was made for me as I heard the other patron collect themselves and indicate their own exit. Would I really get off this easy? Tempting fate, I slowly made to come out as well, and looking around the small austerely decorated room, locked eyes with the source of my social dilemma. “Should I say something?” I wondered. But again, as if understanding the fix I found myself in, the young woman bowed her head to break eye contact and swished by me and out of the ladies room.

“Whew, that was close,” I said to my reflection in the bathroom mirror spanning the back wall. The relief I felt at not having to interact with the woman as she puked her guts out in the stall next to mine only moments ago was overwhelming, almost guiltily so.  Hearing the initial few heaves was enough to make me want to run out of the place- hands unwashed and all. But I stuck through it, half afraid to leave the ailing woman, should she need assistance, and half paralyzed by a strange feeling of embarrassment at having born witness to the event. Either way, it was over now… I had escaped from another socially ambiguous situation wholly intact- that is, all but my appetite.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Public bathrooms are already weird in my book. Here I am, doing a very private thing, in my opinion, surrounded by at any given time up to six other women (more if there’s a line) doing that ‘thing’ as well. Knowing this, as soon as I enter the ladies room I am transformed into an awkward weirdo, who’s just on the cusp of having a mini-breakdown should someone choose to talk to me, make too much eye contact, ask for a paper towel or do that little dance you do when you’re trying to leave and they’re trying to come in but the space is too small and you both move in the same direction a few times before awkwardly snort-giggling as you finally get out of each other’s way… Anyway, today as I’m trying my darndest to get in and out of there, I suddenly here the unmistakable sounds of a person retching in the stall next to mine. Great. Now what do I do? The girl is obviously getting sick, so do I hang out, make sure she’s ok? Do I ask if she’s alright, offer to get someone or bring some water? Do I just ignore it and assume she can manage on her own? What’s my role here? What’s my responsibility? Doing the right thing, however uncomfortable it made me was something I was highly concerned with, and as a result forced me to sit immobilized on my porcelain ‘thinking seat’ as I weighed my option. Then, before I could do anything, I hear the other toilet flush, the door open and the water from the sink begin to run as the ‘puker’ washed up. Oh thank God! Collecting myself and checking for the tenth time that my zipper was up, I emerged from my stall just in time to see her flip flop disappear out the door. Crisis averted.

Love & Squirrels.

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Day #156: The Importance of Being… A Yellow Robot

The Story:

“What a fantastic evening, wouldn’t you agree, Donna?” Donna’s husband, Jacob or “Jake” swirled the last of his merlot and raising the glass to his mouth peered over its rim expectantly at his wife.

Donna, who was not having a glorious anything, looked from her husband to the other’s in their group, none of which she knew personally, and managed to nod. Thankfully the evening was drawing to a close and she could soon retire to the sweet sanctuary of a good book, warm cup of tea and perhaps a hot bath. The thought alone managed to sustain her through the current conversation. Donna looked around the room and hoped that an excuse to escape would make itself apparent, but not seeing any turned back to the conversation. God, did she hate these types of events, nothing but small talk, food too small to eat with a fork but too big to eat in one bite, way too many tables and only three chairs, and they had just run out of cupcakes. Add to that the fact that Donna had been required to wear heels to this soirée for her husband’s work and Donna was officially miserable. The only redeeming thing of the night was the performance of The Importance of Being Earnest that was included in the night’s festivities.

An actual look at tonight's players... bravo! (and yeah, that's a dude playing a chick in the red)

Finally Jake began to go through the motions of beginning to say goodbye and bring their night to a close. About ten minutes later they were walking to their car and began the drive home. In his typical fashion, Jacob began to recount the highlights of the night, running through the entire event as if she hadn’t been by his side for the duration. He especially liked to narrate each conversation they had been a part of- down to the last trivial detail. “Hey, let’s stop at that Quickstop for a drink, I need a Gatorade or something,” Jake interrupted himself long enough to say before pulling into the convenience store.

While Jake perused the drink selection in the coolers at the back of the shop, Donna wandered to the front by the checkout and scoped out all the latest brick-a-brack for sale. Seeing that Jake was walking towards the front with his Gatorade, Donna sidled up to the counter and a box of brightly colored rings immediately caught her attention. In bright neon colors were about a dozen of cheap metal robot adjustable rings. Honing in on a bright yellow robot with nerdy glasses framing his rhinestone eyes, Donna was picking it up and rubbing her thumb over it before she realizing what she was doing. “Cute, aren’t they?” The weathered woman behind the counter smiled as she noticed Donna’s fascination.

“They’re fantastic,” Donna said with an almost reverent tone. “I love this yellow guy,” she said after a few seconds.

“Yeah, he’s my favorite… he needs a good home,” she said and smiled again showing her perfect but smoke stained teeth.

“I’ll take it,” Donna said without another thought and slipped the ring on her finger.

“Good, I like you. And I like that robot, so things worked out all right tonight, that’s a good thing,” the lady responded as she scanned Jake’s Gatorade.

Back in the car, Jake was about to pick up where he left off and then he noticed the faraway look in his wife’s eyes and she absently played with the absurd robot ring. “I’m sorry honey, I’ve been going on and on about what I enjoy tonight and all the great conversations I had. What was your favorite conversation tonight?” Jake looked curiously over at his wife in the dark car, the passing street lights splashing an orangish hue onto her face every few seconds.

“My favorite moment and conversation of tonight was the one I just had,” Donna said with a smile.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Tonight I dragged Andy to a work event honoring esteemed alumnus of our college which included a cocktail hour, followed by an hour-long award presentation and rounded out by a presentation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. These sorts of things are not usually my bag, but to be honest, it’s the only way I can afford to go to the theater so I manage to swallow an hour of awkward social situations in order to take in a play (on my employer’s dime, no less). The performance was excellent, of course it’s one of my favorites, but still, it was excellently done. Despite this, I have to say my favorite moment came after leaving the theater and stopping into a 7-Eleven for a tea. It is there that I found the cutest lil robot ever, and he had to be mine. After absently handing the cashier two dollars for the little guy, I started t ochat with her about each of the different robots on display and what we thought their personaility was like. There was the hipster, the flake, the hot girl, the cool dude and then… there was my ring- the yellow one. The cashier agreed that it was by far the best one, and her personal favorite. I could see why. Besides yellow being my favorite color, I don’t know, he just spoke to me, ya know? Funny how conversations with strangers I’m supposed to have a lot in common with, we are colleagues after all, can feel so canned and forced and then, a conversation with another stranger, one that I doubt I have very much in common with at all, can feel completely natural and was, frankly, preferable to all the other conversations that night. That’s the beauty of yellow robots.

And I shall call him Earnest!

Love & Squirrels.