Calder and I had to run a few errands this morning; I needed a new color cartridge for my printer, so we trotted into the local Staples. Sold out. Office Max: on backorder. “Try Wal-Mart,” suggested the 13-year old clerk with the sapphire (sapphire!?!) braces.
I know better. Every time I set foot in a Wal-Mart, Calder has to use the bathroom. No matter if he’s just gone, no matter if he’s been deprived of food and water for days; the moment we set foot in the place, some mysterious force overtakes his bowels, where there will be NO rollback, and he informs me, fortissimo, that he has to go poop. NOW. And so off we go, into what has to be the nastiest chain of public bathrooms in the history of elimination. Why do these places ALWAYS smell like diaper pail? Or mildewy mop, with a soupçon of… what is that? SACHET? No matter how fancy the Wal-Mart (and the one near me is far from fancy), the bathrooms always smell like ass. There’s invariably a mob in there as well, everyone avoiding everyone else’s eyes, feigning ignorance of the stench. It's fine! Fresh as a daisy! My goal, when I have to take Calder into one of these places, is to get in and get out, preferably holding my breath the entire time. Trying to get him to avoid touching anything is another story.
Today was no different. We were headed for the ink cartridge aisle when Calder made his pronouncement. I grabbed his hand and beat it towards the bathroom. Stinky. All the regular-sized stalls were in use, so we went into the oversized/disabled stall. I would never ever ever park in a handicapped parking space, but I usually don’t hesitate to jump into the big stall, especially when there’s no one else waiting and I’m trying to squeeze a hyper kid in there with me. There’s all that extra room for bouncing off walls and pointing to the feminine hygiene receptacle and loudly asking “why is there a mailbox on the wall?”
As we were, you know, hanging out in there, I heard mumbling from right outside our door. I said “just a minute!” More mumbling. There was also a lot of typical bathroom noise; flushing, sinks, blowdryers, gagging, etc., but there was no mistaking that the mumbling, and maybe even some tapping was really close to our particular stall. Kind of obnoxious, no? I stopped holding my breath long enough to say “coming!” and went to get some toilet paper for the kid. I think we got the last three squares. The roller-thingy was completely empty. No reserves. Nevertheless, I managed a solution and we got ready to get out. Just as we were gathering our things, there was yet another nasty-sounding mumble and a distinct rapping on the door. Now, I can only hold my breath for like, two minutes, so I know we couldn’t have been in there for very long. I opened the door, laden with purse and germy child, and said “hold your fucking horses, please.” Right into the face of a nun.
A DISABLED nun.
I forgot to tell her there was no toilet paper.