Today, we went out, the Honey and me. To walk in the mall, pay bills, buy peanut butter and jelly - just stuff. The ladies who clean our home came; we met them in the parking lot. We talked and laughed as they worked. Sandy had a procedure to go through, and was declared okay - finally. After scaring her half to death, and charging her two thousand dollars for the privilege of crushing her between two plates of Plexiglas before sending her for an ultrasound. And we laughed, because we're the same age, Sandy and me, because we can't do anything else. As much as I despise this saying, It is what it is, that's precisely what it is. I paid Pat and her, and we'll see them again next month.
Tuesdays are the days when Duane and I go out for Chinese food. And as I walked to the car, I saw something on Girlfriend's bumper. It was red, and it wasn't there earlier. Within an hour, someone had come over to my car and smeared blood on it. It wasn't a lot. You could clearly see that a thumb was involved in the application. And I knew, I just knew, don't ask me how, that a girl had done it. And it wasn't taken from her nose.
If you're a woman, who has ever had to use a public restroom, you've seen it. Used tampons tossed on the floor, the sink, used as brushes to paint toilet seats or smirch the character of others; sometimes the letters are especially thick, and the gore flows down the stall walls, like in a horror movie. Duane never saw it. He walked past it, it was there while I was fetching a wipe from the glove box to wash it away, but he didn't notice. I didn't want to call attention to it; I didn't know if she might be watching. I didn't want to give her the satisfaction of seeing me upset. Wipe in hand, I removed the offending liquid, got into the car and we drove away.
Years ago, I was at an amusement park up north. This was very long ago, because those public lavatories had attendants on duty. Elderly black women, dressed in nurse white, sitting on folding chairs at the entrance. They would walk in, every ten minutes or so, to check the empty stalls, and take care of whatever the previous tenant had not. I overheard some tsking, and I stayed put while one of the ladies spoke to another. It seemed that she had found another careless act perpetrated on the hapless porcelain, and muttered as she worked
These girls don't know what a pride it is to have such power. God's power to womin. Jus' throwin' that gift 'round like it was nothin' - jus' nothin'. Ought'a be ashamed.
I remember thinking that those things died when I grew up. That I had done the stupid things, found them to be stupid and thought that was it. It would never happen again. I'd done it all, at least some of it, and figured now nobody ever had to do it again. I toilet papered houses, smoked weed, drank while underage, played with candles and dripped wax on furniture, stole beer and booze; I even smoked cigarettes, and was never able to get past the third puff - yuck, makes me shudder to this day. But I was never gross. My mother, for all her faults, instilled in me that every woman had periods - even the Virgin Mary. And that I was to leave the restroom better than I found it, because what if She needed it? What if She had to go, right after you, and you didn't flush?
I should mention that Girlfriend has had other indignities bestowed upon her. Soil, from just off the stoop, rubbed into her hood and trunk lid, the rough little stones ground into her finish; cigarettes put out on the same and tossed on the ground at her tires; women's panties tossed behind her front wheels; handfuls of that same dirt, packed like clay, into the door handles, magic-marker drawings of penises and a series of key-scars. I've ignored them all. I've cleaned them all. I've kept much of this to myself. But this. I just don't. I just can't...