Bathroom Story

| August 15, 2016 | 1 Comment
photo credit: Wien - Women via photopin (license)

photo credit: x via photopin (license)

There is a cluster of tweens orbiting the sinks. I glimpse pink, denim, and long hair. Perhaps they’re all different ages–or perhaps they’re at that unreliable phase when puberty has affected each girl to a different degree; their heights are as varied as the five fingers on a hand. I squeeze past to reach a stall, and notice the following hush. Their noise starts up again: “This is the right bathroom, right?”  Brats, I think, exasperation directed more at myself than at the kids. Why flocks of white tween girls should still get to me–I thought I had left that behind in middle school. Congratulations, tweens. You’re well on your way to complacency under cisheteropatriarchy–how charming. Your level of comfort with loudly commenting on strangers’ appearances is equally endearing. I come back out of the stall, anticipating their glances, and wash my hands.  Their confused glee continues as they leave the bathroom. “Is it…?” “…no, it’s definitely a girl.” It can hear everything.

I am at a sink, another person next to me. A young woman pushes the door open, sees the two of us, and turns around to leave, but the person next to me says briskly, “You’re good,” and waves her in. “Happens to me too,” I say, but I’ve never seen it happen to someone else before. “Happens all the time,” they say, matter of fact.

I am at a sink. A young woman pushes open the door, then slows down, stepping back and turning her head to check the sign outside, before she continues inside.

I wake up in the middle of the night and blearily head for the shared toilet. The few women inside fall silent when I come in. Once I am enclosed in a stall, one picks up again with “I thought that was a boy.” I am tired and feel equally uncomfortable at the prospect of speaking up or of keeping silent. Not knowing what else to say, I let my voice out from inside the stall: “Don’t worry about it, it happens.” There are more words, embarrassed laughter, maybe apologies, I don’t remember. I don’t look over at them as I wash my hands.

I am at a sink. A young woman enters, yells, “I’m so sorry!” and is gone, not catching my startled, hurried response, “You’re not in the wrong bathroom!”

I am at a sink. A tall young man enters, passes behind me, and enters a stall. There is a woman on the phone in another stall. Her voice drifts around the tiled room. Less than a minute passes, and the young man bursts from his stall and sprints out of the bathroom, passing behind me again on his way out.

I am at a sink. The door opens, and I keep my eyes down, gaze straight at my hands. Don’t look, and I won’t catch anyone looking at me.

I am at a sink. Toilets begin to flush, a sign that stalls are about to swing open, and I leave quickly, without drying my hands.

I am at a sink.

  featured photo credit:x via photopin (license)

 

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Category: featured, Politics, Reflections, The (Sex)es

Huey Wu

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Huey Wu is a Senior studying Comparative Literature. When not writing in a journal, writing for class, or working as a writing tutor, they enjoy volleyball, puzzles, and gentle company.

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