Saturday, August 04, 2007

Women in the Men's Room

I sometimes retreat to a favorite local restaurant for an extended lunch. Yes, the California Salad is a draw. But as an easily distracted writer, I salivate for time away from the press of "distracting" responsibilities, too.

My cell phone is stocked with only enough minutes to call for help or let my husband know I'll be late. It stays off, lurking in the dark and more than a little scary recesses of my purse. So the dial tones chirping, singing, screaming, or pounding in the restaurant are never for me.

I haven't seen a laundry basket on the premises. And the dirty dishes are whisked away from my table rather than laid in my lap of responsibility.

I tell myself I can get lots of writing done in that atmosphere. But like a stream of water seeking the path of least resistance, I slip seamlessly into observer-mode. Research.

My mind invents a storyline behind the waitress with neon-white teeth and flawless skin. I'm thinking alien.

I picture a romance budding between the bohemian waiter and the young woman manning the hostess station. She laughs at his every word, apparently delighted to discover the new invention called language. She must have back problems. Her posture straightens every time his duties take him past her post.

The people in the booth behind me are talking about the pros and cons of post-chemo wigs versus turbans. If they didn't want me to overhear, they should have whispered. Very, very softly.

When the lady from two tables away gets up and heads in the direction of the restrooms, my powers of observation are only lightly engaged until I watch her walk straight into the men's room! Unashamed. No apology.

She pushes a wheelchair with a pale elderly man propped up in its embrace. Her father? Grandfather? Maybe she's a home health care nurse and he's her client.

She marches right into that men's room without blushing.

For his sake.

Only the Lord and the security cameras know what she had to help him with in there.

When's the last time I was that selfless?