She hesitated before entering the second bathroom stall. As a methodical and somewhat frivolous person she typically used the third stall as she is the third child in her family and when entering strange public restrooms knowing this in advance just makes the decision, well, less of a decision. It’s just so much easier to always use stall number three. But, when she entered the airport restroom, stall three was occupied, as was one, four and the handicapped stall. The only open stall was stall number two, and well, she avoids stall number two wherever she goes.
She used to always use either the very first or the very last stall, the ones with a wall on one side, opening to another stall only on one side. In her younger days she had read that women were being kidnapped from public restrooms by bad people shooting drugs in their legs by reaching under the open sides of stalls. It takes the needles coming from both sides for the drug to take affect and then for the hapless body to be dragged from under the locked door into a waiting van with rusted-out panel doors. She imagines today that there are strong enough drugs that both sides are no longer needed. However, when she turned 50, she no longer worried about being kidnapped, that was for much younger prettier women. She continued to use the first and last stall out of habit. Lord knows how or why this topic came up in a conversation with her sisters, but it did. When she told them about this whole drugging kidnapping caution, they looked at her incredulously, then they all had a good laugh.
That’s when the whole stall number two phobia began. “You know,” the middle sister said, “it is proven that the second stall is the most dangerous stall.” “No, really?!” she replied, “why is that?” Middle sister explained, “Statistically, it is the one that is used the most, and therefore is the dirtiest; full of all sorts of diseases, scum and yuck.”
So there. That little seed was firmly planted in her head and from thenceforth and forever more she always avoided stall number two. Thank you very much. She would wait for another to open before she would ever step foot into the bacterial monster-producing stall number two. (As a side note, she only uses the handicapped stall in extreme emergencies lest she incurs the evil eye from others for using what is not rightfully meant for people like her. Once in a pinch, she did limp out, but that’s just living a lie, so she wouldn’t go there again. She overly worries about what others think.)
Standing there indecisively, yet squirming a little, because she really had to go when another woman entered and gave that non-verbal eyebrow lifted nod of “are you waiting”. Well, yes I am… Sigh. Confronted by her own nonsense — and a sense of urgency — she entered stall number two. She put the tissue-thingy on the seat trying not to touch anything, turned around and quickly sat down with her eyes closed not wanting to see what might be there that couldn’t be seen. One can only imagine. She definitely did not want to look at the floor (do not look at the floor) knowing that she’d be disgusted by the filth, invisible or not, that accumulates exponentially in stall number two.
But she did look, and there before her was an intriguing item, a clue for something which poked at her quirky sense of “what the…” or was it serendipity? She was torn between being amused and being disgusted. Curiosity was stronger than her distain, so she tore a piece of toilet tissue and picked up the item.
It was a Scrabble Square, S1 to be exact. Such an odd thing to find. It could only be placed there purposefully as a hidden message for some nefarious espionage caper or maybe it was left as directions for a secret tryst or maybe…. Maybe it was an odd little nudge from her muse who in the past two weeks has been in a grey funk refusing to be muse-like. Pinched in the white tissue, she turned the square over looking to see if there was anything written on the back. Half thinking there’d be the words: “Ew! You picked this up off the floor of stall number two! Yicky-poo.” Realizing that’s a lot to write on the backside of one little Scrabble Square, she wasn’t surprised when nothing was there.
What possessed her, she can’t explain, but she wrapped the S1 in the tissue and put it in her purse. Yes, she decided, it must be connected to her muse and a story should unfold in due time.
Maybe it’s nothing or maybe it’s something of great insight and significance; it just has to be more than a simple S1. Doesn’t it?
Saturday, Sept 12 2015
Washington Dulles Airport near Gate D18
Lisa A Hendry