Thursday, April 14, 2011


As I pulled into the almost-empty church parking lot Saturday morning, it was obvious I had over-estimated the driving time. That was fine with me - allowed plenty of time to get oriented, find the "facilities," and settle in before the memorial service began.

I met Lucia, another early-arriver, in the parking lot. She and her husband had driven up from Mississippi. Lucia and I both had our radar scanning for the same thing...the nearest bathroom. We headed into the church together, and soon found the His and the Hers in a hall behind the sanctuary.

"This looks like a one-seater," I commented. "You use the ladies' room...since nobody else is in the building, I'll use the men's." Of course, no sooner had I settled into the stall in the men's room, when I heard the door to the hall swing open. Not again! I thought. Shoot! "Hey, hey, hey! There's a woman in here!" I hollered. "I'll be out as quick as I can!" Mr. Surprised did a speedy about-face and snapped the door shut behind him.

I quickly finished my business and stepped sheepishly into the hallway, where I found Lucia doubled over laughing. "That was my husband," she hooted. "I heard him coming down the hall and tried to warn you through the wall from the ladies' room!" Still laughing, she grabbed me by the hand and pulled me toward the sanctuary. "Okay, you're sitting with us for the service. You're practically family now." She pushed open the swinging door, a broad smile lighting her face. "It feels so good to laugh."

Using the wrong restroom is not something I do frequently. Sadly, it is not something I do infrequently, either.

At the Memphis Zoo with my seven small children, everyone was relieved when we finally made it to Once Upon a Farm. This area of the zoo has fantastic bathroom facilities and was our regular stop when we made it out for a day with the animals. I backed up to the door and pushed it open, directing my minions into the tile-lined potty room.

"Mom, I'm old enough to go to the bathroom by myself," whined one of the boys. "I don't want to go to the girls' bathroom!"

"We all stick together," I insisted. "This way, young man." I was busy counting heads to make sure I still had everyone. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. I stepped inside behind the last of my troops, letting the door swing shut behind me. That's when I noticed a gentleman standing strangely close to and face-toward the wall. It always takes me a second to make sense of this phenomenon. Oh, Gack! Wrong bathroom! "ABOUT FACE, EVERYONE," I shouted as I grabbed the kid nearest me and turned him toward the door. "ABOUT FACE!" Of course, it was just all-in-a-day's-work for me, and my kids didn't think a thing about it - but I'm certain we had greatly discomfited the fellow stationed at the urinal.

Then there was the time I was dressed as Mrs. know, Tiny Tim's mother. Theatre Memphis was mid-run in its annual production of A Christmas Carol. My oldest son had a part in the play, and big sister and I worked backstage. One of the financial backers asked Theatre Memphis if some of the cast could come out in costume to sing Christmas carols at her gift shop.

The real cast couldn't jeopardize their voices and their health by standing out in the cold and damp at a local shopping center, so volunteers were recruited from the lower ranks. Several of us peons suited up and spent a fun morning caroling holiday shoppers. Cold, stiff, and hoarse from singing, we headed at lunchtime to a nearby fast-food joint for some warmth and refreshment.

Of course, the first thing on my mind was finding the facilities. I pulled off my bonnet and headed down the short hallway to the restroom, my long skirts flapping about my frozen feet.

"What do you want? I'll order for you," another crew member called. I turned and threw back a quick answer as I reached to push open the bathroom door. As I settled onto the porcelain throne occupying the lone stall, a very strange thing happened. A pair of men's boots tromped into the room, then proceeded to plant themselves,toes forward, right up against the wall on the other side of the stall. Very strange.

Then it hit me. Oh, no! Not again! I gathered my long skirts up around my knees and held my breath, waiting. Please, Lord, don't let anyone else come in here until I can make an escape! As soon as the gentleman finished his business, I pulled myself together and bolted for the door.

When I exited the bathroom, I found my fellow crew members huddled together at the end of the short hall, snorting and pointing. They hadn't even ordered yet - they'd realized my mistake immediately and then stood there waiting to see my glowing face when I came out. What could I do but laugh with them?!

Maybe it all comes from being mom to a great lot of children. Maybe it's evidence that I need to be more aware of my surroundings. Maybe I'm one of those folks who can only concentrate on one task at a time...and, in certain circumstances, reading door labels just isn't the top priority! Or maybe, God knows I'm prone to take myself too seriously and need an occasional slice of humble pie and a reason to laugh out loud at myself with others.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Haha Camille. This post made me smile. Thanks for brightening and lightening my Friday morning. Beautifully written. I ought to share this with my students, who are polishing their personal narratives for next week. :)