It’s taken me about a week to get the distance necessary to tell the following story. I went to see Jet Li Hero last Tuesday afternoon. Disappointing to say the least — more chopsocky, please! I blame either the lackluster movie or the earlier lunch of a meatball sandwich for the storm that was brewing inside of me as I loped out of the theater. I knew the stomach tsunami was too strong to make it back to the privacy of my home, and this could mean only one thing: I had to use the public facilities.

I wasn’t about to use the toilet just outside the theater, because half the Hero-going hordes were in the process of destroying it. I knew that I was in a ten-story theater house, with multitudes of less-trafficked bathrooms to choose from, so I decided to find one that was deserted. Sanctuary was located on floor eight. However, the entry-way was confusing. Underneath a sign that said “Men,” there was an opening to the left (urinals and one stall) and another on the right (five more stalls, no urinals). Even though I thought it was weird, I’d seen arrangements like this at airports, and figured the women’s room must be around the corner. Plus, I had to go. I entered the right side.

I’m very happy I had the foresight, not at all intentional, to have a New York Times with me. This was going to be a big job. After I’d gone through the bulk of the paper and was entering the porcelain endgame, I was dismayed to hear the footsteps of someone entering the bathroom. My bathroom. Even worse, the person took the stall immediately next to me, when there were clearly other options. My first inkling was to wait him out, to let him be the first to leave so I could tidy up in peace. But a few minutes into our hushed standoff, I unleashed a phlegmy cough, a by-product of a cold from last week. It was too loud for the confines of the eighth-floor bathroom. I blinked. In defeat, I picked up my newspaper, flushed angrily and left.

I immediately discovered my folly upon leaving the bathroom. It seems that the sign saying “Men” was actually double-sided. This will come as a surprise to none of you, but the side I hadn’t seen going in said “Women.” My face hurt. I began to imagine what went through the mind of the woman next to me. First, the incredible scent: What the fuck did she eat!? Second, upon noticing my size-12 New Balance sneakers: Is she a giantess? Finally, the guttural cough: It’s a man! Where’s my rape whistle!?

It was this last thought I was worried about. As I hurtled down the escalators faster than physics normally allows, I was bracing for the inevitable icy reception in the lobby. “Red alert!” someone would be surely be yelling. “Bolt the doors! Don’t let the suspect escape! Look for New Balance sneakers, a New York Times and a guilty look! But beware: It might be a giantess! I repeat: Suspect might be a giantess!”

Luckily I got out of there alive, but much of my dignity remained behind.


I have to go to the dentist in a few hours to get a filling redone. There will be a needle involved. I don’t like needles.