This morning, before starting my workout I stopped into the women’s locker room to use the restroom.* Instead of being on the plastic roll thingy, the toilet paper was sitting on top of the dispenser cover, where I also set my phone and water bottle. When I finished, I picked up my things and headed across the gym to the elliptical machine. It wasn't until I’d stepped up onto the pedals that I realized I’d strolled past about 20 people carrying my phone, water and the toilet paper roll, with about eight squares dangling behind me like a two-ply tail.
Not knowing what to do with the knock-off Charmin and especially not wanting to parade past the audience again to return it to the bathroom, I decided to slide the roll onto one of the machine’s handle bars.** That’s when I heard one of the old men who works out in khakis and Rockports say,
“Dang! She ain’t gon’ stop her workout for nothin.’”
There was a woman two machines down who could’ve won a blue ribbon at the state fair with her gargantuan breast implants.*** Feeling snarky and competitive I had to fight back the urge to tear off massive handfuls of the toilet paper and stuff it into my sports bra. I thought it would be funny. But, a lot of the things I do trying to be funny just wind up embarrassing my kids and cause me to not get invited back to places.
My dad was like that too. But, somehow it always worked for him.
Apparently, one night long ago, at a dinner party, he ate the hostess’s floral centerpiece. I have a feeling that perhaps alcohol played a role. Or either he was starving and the meal wasn’t ready. Or both.
Years later, the hostess, who was then my seventh grade English teacher, shared the story with me as if it was just hilarious.
“That Robert! He does the funniest, craziest stuff. Keeps us all in stitches!”
That night at supper, seeking a few laughs for myself, I bit off a leaf of my mom’s African violet and got sent to my room for acting like a freak at the dinner table.**** The next day she made an appointment with a psychologist to have me “tested.”
How was it that when my dad did something socially unacceptable, destructive and borderline psychotic, he got laughs and crowned “life of the party.” But when I did it, my brother smacked me on the head and called me a creepy little, plant-eating weirdo?
Life’s not fair.
If my dad were here today and found himself standing on an elliptical machine with a roll of toilet paper in his hand and a bunch of people staring at him, I wonder what he would do with it.
What would you have done with it?
*No, I don’t normally start out blog posts or even conversations about going to the bathroom. I’ll probably do it regularly when I’m about 80, though. And you will too.
** I mean, where else would you put it? The drink holder was too small and the phone slot was too narrow and I didn’t want to just drop it on the floor.
*** Well, at least the left one could've won.
****If you’re going to act like a freak, don’t do it at the dinner table.