Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In Place of a Substantial Narrative about Kalamazoo, A Brief Anecdote Highlighting My Awkwardness

(I've been reading about the brevity topos in hagiographic narrative. Thus, while I could certainly regale you with endless tales of fascinating meetings and panels both good and worse, of absentee speakers and an actual hour and a half at the Dance, I shall instead bring you the following.)

One of the features of Kalamazoo dorm-life is the Shared Bathroom. Not a communal bathroom shared by an entire hall, a la Leeds (where, however, you get your own sink and real toiletries and nicer bedding), but a bathroom shared with one other person in the room next to yours. Congress-goers bemoan the weirdness of these bathrooms: the doors to the rooms cannot be locked from the bathroom, and there is no stall door in front of the toilet, meaning that your suite-mate could conceivably open the door and find you Fully Exposed. (I've never heard of that happening, but it's all too imaginable.) Also, the sound of the flushing toilet is deafening, so one hopes that one's suite-mate does not need to use it in the middle of the night.

My suite-mate, however, didn't show up until Saturday afternoon. I returned from dinner that evening to find a note addressed "To the person with whom I share a bathroom"; it explained, quite apologetically, that her airline had lost her luggage and asked if I would mind if she used my hair dryer the next morning.

As any rational person would do, I wrote back, "Please feel free! I'm happy to share." And then I appended, "Help yourself to shampoo, hair gel, toothpaste, etc. as needed."

Returning the note to the bathroom, I saw that she had a tube of toothpaste next to her sink.

So I, unthinking, crossed out "toothpaste" on my note.

I looked at it.

Will she wonder why I suddenly don't want her using my toothpaste? But she can still use my shampoo? Even though--as I now notice--she has a bottle of shampoo beside her sink, too?

So I wrote underneath the crossing-out, with a little arrow, "I see that you already have some!"

OK. So now she's going to think that I'm looking through her stuff, right? Even though the toothpaste is plainly visible.... Why would I comment on it? Why edit my note, for Pete's sake? And why am I still letting her use my shampoo, which she patently doesn't need? But I'm not crossing that one out, too, and making this whole situation even worse.

So I crossed out the note about seeing her toothpaste, and crossed out "toothpaste" more heavily, and set the note back on the sink, and fled in great shame and horror to the wilderness.


meg said...


I probably would have wadded up my first note and written another. And kicked myself for the rest of the day for being such a git.

(Not calling you a git, I hasten to add -- just describing my own gittitude.)

-meg @ xoom (don't pay attention to the link)

Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHA! This seems like a Ben Stilleresque character moment, for some reason.

I have gone through thought processes like this, too. You're awesome.

heu mihi said...

Meg--I actually thought of throwing away the note, but I'd written it on the same piece of paper as the original note, and I imagined that the other person would find it strange if her note magically disappeared and was replaced with another one. So I didn't do it.

Glad to hear that I'm not entirely alone, Ink!

Anonymous said...

omg I laughed so hard at this. you rule.

undine said...

Until I read this, I thought I was queen of the awkward note and the second thoughts it inspires. You rule!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

This year, I actually *did* walk in on my suite-mate as she was using the toilet. Completely naked. (her, not me)


(By the way, sorry we never managed to get together. Argh! Too many people! But drop me a line, if you feel like it, and have a moment to breathe.)

Dr. Koshary said...

LOL! You just wrote yourself a Seinfeld episode! Come to think of it, Seinfeld actually did feature an argument over how one ought to punctuate a note about a phone message, but it wasn't half as funny as reading your post.

The fact that you repeatedly edited your own note brings especial joy to my heart.