Oh, where to begin…I texted a few friends a snippet of this story thinking it was probably an inappropriate event to share with the world (Facebook) even with context. As it evolved into chapter two, I thought, why not? Why not tell the blogging world about a story that calls to mind college days, desperate moments having to do with immediate bathroom issues, and, quick, probably not well-thought out decisions. Why not?
A restaurant in the bottom floor of one of the oldest hotels in town, Hotel Del Pescador, has a two-for-one margarita special all day long. In Zihuantanejo, restaurant owners, street vendors, and beach hawkers all call out to us, “Lady, Gentleman, come, drink, eat, and buy our fine things. Come now, we make margaritas for you. “
Duh, we went.
Two necklaces, one pair of earrings, one family of stone turtles (I’m still trying to figure how many there are in total), four shirts for the boys, three dresses for the girls, and suddenly, I have to pee. Bad.
I’ve only had two margaritas which is entirely manageable.
I go to the bathroom at the back of the restaurant. I saunter into the first stall I see. Mistake, Paul’s mom tells me. ‘Always check to make sure there is enough paper.’
I admit that would have been a good idea. I closed the stall door behind me and slide the door lock to the right. The door lock falls apart in my hand. I catch it. It can wait. I really have to pee. As I hunched over the toilet letting no part of my body touch it (thank you, Amber for the squat exercises last week), I hold the little piece of metal and stare up at the door latch. I’m not sure what to do. I spin the toilet paper thing around and nothing comes out. I begin to realize I am facing a bit of a problem. I drip dry while I ponder my dilemma. I was a prisoner in the stall.
I stood up, adjusted the dampness, and concentrated on the non-functioning door latch. I shoved the little piece of metal into the slot where it had broken off and twisted it quickly. Nope. The door latch didn’t move.
I looked around at the stall. It was clean, actually really clean for Mexican standards. I looked down at the floor and winced. Not so much. Plus, there was only about a two foot gap between the bottom of the door and the floor. I shook once more and bent down to my knees. It strikes me then. In 1987, I was visiting my cousin at WSU and we crossed the Idaho state border because we could drink alcohol before we were twenty-one. Then too, there was a bathroom stall malfunction and I had emerged from the floor like a creature from the swamp. Why, thirty years apart, was I forced to get on my hands and knees and crawl under the door of the bathroom stall because of a door lock malfunction?
It couldn’t be helped, so I just did it. I crawled under the door and snaked my way out of the stall. At the last minute my shirt scrunched up and I was bare skin on the floor of the Mexican bathroom. I immediately thought to myself. ‘Wait until I tell Paul.’ It is a good sign in our marriage that I can hardly wait to tell my husband about the most horrifying and hilarious moments in my life. I put the broken half of the lock next to the sink, pulled my shirt down, and fluffed my humidity-curled hair. I cringed when I realized I now had bathroom floor gook in my red tresses as if it were hair product.
“We have to go,” I said to Paul when I reached the sand. “Now.” The various parts of me had slowed in their drip-drying process as the full force of the 100% humidity hit me. “Trust me, it’s important.”
“Whatever,” Paul said in a happy, margarita-induced stage. We paid, left, and hiked the 166 stairs to our hotel. Somewhere between step 25 and 100, I belted out into a high-pitched whine an explanation of what had happened in the bathroom stall.
“Are you going to laugh?” I demanded.
“No, I am scared of what might happen if I say anything.”
“You are so in trouble,” I said.
“I just have one question,” Paul said shying away from the possible blows. “Are you going to change your underwear?”
So, would a normal person go back to the same restaurant knowing full well it was a possibility she might have to use the restroom again? Absolutely.
Four days later, we were walking past the restaurant where the whole debacle had happened.
“Hey, we remember you, two margaritas for one price this day too!” The waiter called to us holding out a chair in the sand.
I looked at Paul. “Do you think they know it was me?” I whispered.
“You mean the person who locked everyone out of the stall?” he asked.
“Shh, quit talking so loud.” I glared at him with narrowed eyes. “Your life could get so miserable,” I threatened coolly just under my breath.
We had barely finished our first margarita when my body signaled it was time—urgently—to go to the bathroom. My eyes bugged out.
“I have to go to the bathroom.”
Paul began laughing and struggling for breath. He waved his hand not looking at me. Afraid to look at me.
I rushed to the back of the restaurant. I pushed open the door and automatically threw open the door to the stall I had destroyed only days before. I slammed the door shut. Someone had used gorilla glue and thoroughly installed the door latch again. I shoved the lock, banging it shut firmly.
Blowing air out of my mouth, my quads clenched tightly (thanks again, Amber), I prepared to hunch down over the seat. A slow heat burned through me. I had a big problem. I was wearing a “romper”. For those of us who remember the 1980s, it is a one-piece jumpsuit. There was no way out of it unless I could figure out how to get the zipper down. Same stall. Different problem.
I managed to pull off a contortionist move and get it unzipped half way down my back. Then, I shimmied it down over my hips. The fabric strained and I could see daylight between the seams of the zipper. I was not going to pull this off in a hunched position. I lowered myself to the toilet seat. (Sorry, Amber). I didn’t care what germs I would carry with me on my clothes. I leaned over to pull the toilet paper.
“Mom, I wailed. “How could this happen again?” No toilet paper. Not a single sheet. Could it get any worse? Of course it could. I stood up wearing only a bra on my top half, wrapped the loose romper fabric around my waist and opened the stall door. I had lost all respect for myself, the romper, and the authentic Mexican breakfast I had four hours earlier. I spread my feet apart and carefully hopped to the stall next door. I grabbed more toilet paper and hopped back to my home away from home. Sitting there I had a lot of time to reflect on my entire experience with the Hotel of the Fish and the women’s restroom.
I went out to Paul and he grinned at me. His toes were buried in the sand, his Mexican hat was jauntily perched on his head, and a fresh margarita sat in front of him and another one in front of my empty chair. I took a long drink and looked with deliberation at the man of my dreams. Should I tell him?
Crawling under the door the first time was understandable, but going back to the same bathroom and choosing the same stall in an emergency bathroom situation and ending up hopping around half-naked looking for more toilet paper is an unforgettable story he will roll out at every social gathering we will attend for the rest of our long married life. So, Friends, that is why I am sharing this story with you now. Yes, I am preempting Paul’s version which never matches mine anyway. For further proof of the veracity of my version, I’ll even wear the romper.
The worst part is that I cannot swear a series of events such as these will never happen again, because trouble finds me wherever I am hiding, even it is a lonely bathroom stall in a second world country. All I ask of future events is that they not involve skin to floor contact in a sticky seaside bathroom or a bra-only bunny-hop search for the impossible.