On return from a work trip, I was waiting to disembark my plane in Salt Lake City, standing up beneath the overhead bins because I am short and I can. Suddenly, this tall blonde guy in a bright blue Brigham Young University hat, standing in the aisle and leaning on the seat two rows in front of me, caught my eye. He gave me a smile and a wink. I smiled back and then dropped my gaze to peer out the window. He was young and attractive and I admit that I was fractionally flattered, despite the air of a college sophomore “will-flirt-with-anything-that-moves-because-I-am-so-over-powered-by-hormones-that-they-are-shooting-out-the-ends-of-my-hair” that he distinctly had about him.
“Step away from the jail bait!” the angel on my right shoulder blared into my ear through a loud-speaker. I then made a crooked cognitive connection, remembering that the first time I heard about the TV show called “Cougar Town” I had asked if it was set in Provo, home of the Brigham Young University, Cougars.
A few minutes later I stepped out of the gangway and immediately started scanning the hallway of the airport’s terminal for posted bathrooms signs bearing a skirted figure. I found one, walked in and, with a bag on each shoulder, made an abrupt right turn into the first open stall door that I saw. There in the stall, less than a foot in front of me, I saw – as if in flashes – a bright blue hat, blonde hair, long legs, feet positioned twice shoulder width apart, and (through the legs) an ample stream pouring confidently into the bowl below.
I leapt backward and spun around, narrowly avoiding becoming wedged in the stall doorway by my carry-on bags. Convinced that I had walked into the men’s room by mistake and not quite sure what to do about it, I began running around in a small circle doing what I reflectively think of as my “panic dance.”
Unfortunately, this happens to be my go-to reaction in emergencies. The first time I did the “panic dance” was back in college when a crappy plastic lamp spontaneously combusted and I looked over to see a yellow flame within licking distance of the wood paneling of my apartment wall. I leapt to my feet and ran seven laps in a tight circle because my reptilian brain was telling me, “Maybe this will be helpful!” Luckily, Demetria was there and she put the fire out. (Firefighting is a hobby of Demetria’s. She keeps a fire extinguisher handy “just in case” and is the only person I know who has used it on more than one occasion.) I no longer remember how she extinguished the flaming lamp, as my view was blurred by a whirling panic dance sequence, but I remember feeling very thankful someone calm was present.
The panic dance I was doing in the airport bathroom might have been less of a circle. I was trying to figure out how to get out without being seen, and kept changing my mind between running out the door and running into a stall to hide. I was also trying to keep the heels of my boots from hitting the tile, so as not to give myself away with my overtly feminine clacky-clacks. During this time, a cute little blonde in her twenties entered the restroom and, just as I did, turned into the first empty stall. Blue hat. Short hair. Intimidatingly aggressive piss stream. She took in these details and immediately joined me in the panic dance. She was shaking her hands, I was clutching my bags, and we were both running in a crazy loop trying to figure out what we were going to do, all while Mr. BYU obliviously continued to discharge a bladder’s-worth of recycled root beer into the toilet bowl.
I stopped abruptly. It dawned on me that there were two of us and one of him and the math sobered me. I turned and walked into an empty stall further down the lane, clacking my heels as loudly as possible, and shut the door behind me. I hadn’t observed any urinals, and obviously Mr. BYU hadn’t either. I don’t know why I instantly leapt to the conclusion that I was in the wrong room, but even if I was, the fact that another woman made the same mistake was all I needed to feel okay about the whole thing.
I listened as the guy left and waited to hear if he bumped into anyone on his way out. But as far as I know, he strolled off without ever realizing he had been in the women’s room. In fact, if only he had been polite enough to close the door to his stall, it’s possible no one else would have known either.
I saw the student once more before I left the airport. We were down in baggage claim waiting for the belt to start rolling. He was talking on his cell and giving a wry smile to another woman no closer to his age than I am. “Damn,” I thought to myself as the conveyor belt creaked to life. “It’s like he’s drawn to women by an electro-magnetic force.”
Then I briefly imagined another plot for “Cougar Town,” set Provo and centered around the university life that my friends who attended BYU have described to me. Basically all of the characters will constantly try to work off their un-used sexual tension by exercising at the gym, reading scriptures by lamp-light, or by both making and eating basket loads of baked goods.
“Nah,” I thought to myself as I tugged my rolly-bag off the belt and toward the airport parking lot. “No one would ever watch that show.”