Let’s back up a bit.
I had to drive to the big city which meant I had to go to a place where they had a parking structure.
Immediately, those are two things that cause me a great deal of anxiety and panic–traffic and bad distracted drivers, along with the terror of driving into and maneuvering my car in a tiny space inside a gigantic parking garage with a low ceiling.
I hate them.
That’s always been a stress trigger for me. How will I remember where I parked? (I’ve gotten lost before.) How do I get to where I need to go from the parking garage? What if there’s an earthquake? What if I forget how to back up? What if all the horrible things I’m afraid of happen all at the same time?
There’s a word to describe the fear of parking garages: Tingchechekuphobia. It’s a neurotic phobia, I know, but I suffer from it. I don’t know who created that word and I don’t even know how to pronounce it, but it is what it is.
At this point, since I had to drive around and around and around to find a bunch of open parking spaces, I was pretty much completely dizzy, disoriented, and confused, because that’s what happens to me in tall buildings and parking structures.
Luckily for me, there was a very kind man who had parked a couple cars away and when I asked for his help because I didn’t know where to go, he must have felt my fear and walked with me to the right building. Like Blanche DuBois, I have always been able to depend upon the kindness of strangers, referring to A Streetcar Named Desire, of course.
I also hate elevators but couldn’t find the stairs so I took the elevator and when I found my destination, I needed to go to the restroom and the secretary pointed into the hallway.
Without thinking, I entered the first door.
I hadn’t paid enough attention to the little graphic on the door because I had entered the MEN’S ROOM (!!!) although I wasn’t immediately sure because for a split second I thought perhaps I had been away from the world for so long that there were now all genders restrooms and this was the way it was in 2021.
However, seeing the man standing at the urinal convinced me I was in the WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME. (Teehee)
I did what I normally do in life and turned it into a self-deprecating joke…”Well, I seem to have made a mistake. My bad!”
I turned around, walked out, located the PROPER restroom with the girlinatriangledress graphic, used the facilities while I laughed to myself, and re-entered my destination.
Most people would probably not use that embarrassing situation as the icebreaker in a conversation, but I’m not most people…
“I just walked into the men’s room by mistake. I guess that’s why I don’t come into the big city very often.”
We all laughed and totally diffused what could have been a forever humiliating experience and THANK GOODNESS I didn’t see the man who had been at the urinal, but that wasn’t my first time in a men’s room.
Nope. Not my first rodeo, as they say.
When I was twelve-years-old in Detroit, I spent the summer going to the JCC almost every day because there was some sort of pre-teen activities program a lot of my friends attended. On one certain day there was obviously not enough adult supervision because a few of the guys dared me to go into the boy’s bathroom.
I took that dare and entered the boy’s bathroom. Apparently it was bad timing because the program director happened to be in there and I was subsequently asked not to return to the JCC for the rest of the summer.
When I told my parents why I was persona non grata, they simply looked at me and said, “Oh, Rosebud. We’re disappointed in you.” And when I explained it wasn’t my fault; it was a dare, I got that tired old cliche…”If someone dared you to jump off a bridge, would you do that, too?”
However, I believe I detected a glimmer of a repressed chuckle behind their serious demeanor.
Although today’s excitement wasn’t due to a dare, I was able to successfully navigate my way back to my car and drive around and around and around to finally find the exit and return to sky and daylight where I could finally take a breath, but the stress had taken its toll, and there’s only one remedy that always works for me: retail therapy!
I haven’t been to our mall in more than a year, so I decided to see what it was like now as the pandemic is easing up a bit; what stores were open, masked of course. I had a thoroughly pleasant time. It was just what the doctor ordered to soothe my fraught nerves as I leisurely strolled from shop to shop.
I treated myself to a few bits of frothy intimate apparel at Victoria’s Secret. Here’s the bag, but you can’t see what’s inside. Instead, you’ll have to use your imagination.
Have you ever found yourself in a similarly mortifying situation? How did you handle it?