Thank You, Carmelita

Dear Carmelita,

This thank you note is almost six years late, and I apologize for the delay.  You may not remember me, but I will never forget our time together that Sunday afternoon in the bathroom.  Sometimes I wonder if there was ever such a scene in the bathroom of the Ritz Carlton.

In case you forgot who I am, I will remind you of the blood.  There was so much blood.  It was all over my skirt.  As I barreled through the door, I caught a glimpse of your face in the mirror; you had just washed your hands.  Your smile turned to concern when you saw me unfurl what I had been trying to hide as I sped through the dining room: my skirt was stained dark red.

You could have easily walked out as soon as you dried your hands.

But you stayed.  Do you remember handing me those white towels? We both dabbed at my skirt using the sides that didn’t bear the fancy “RC” monogram.

“Make it go away, make it go away,” I pleaded to God as you quietly worked with me at the sink.

I made a joke that the Ritz probably didn’t have many patrons whose menstrual blood ended up all over those marble sinks.  You smiled at my feeble humor.

Back at my table, my boyfriend Marc was eating eggs Benedict with his mother who had opted to remain entombed in her real-fur coat.  I was terrified of her and not just because her name was carved in stone at the entrance of civic buildings all over Chicago because of her “significant contributions.”  It was our first meeting, and I knew that she and Marc had been locked in a nasty stalemate over the family fortune for months.  She was angry with Marc, so how could she possibly like me?

And there was the small matter of how Marc and I met.  I didn’t know if she knew.  How was I, Christie O. Tate (named after a certain savior of the Christian world), going to explain that Marc and I met on J-Date, a dating website for Jewish singles?

Thankfully, the topic never arose.

But, it had been going well enough.  I talked about my job clerking for a famous judge without mentioning his liberal politics.  I didn’t know much about rich people, but I assumed they were Republican.  Right before the blood started, Marc’s mom and I generated some almost-warmth when the subject turned to books, and I told her about my latest read about the politics of the Supreme Court.  I mentally thanked God I had taken a brief reprieve from chick lit.

You and I worked so quickly.  Thanks to your help, I somehow stopped shaking with panic and rage that my body had betrayed me so furiously.  I wasn’t supposed to get my period for another four days, and back then, before my babies and nursing, my uterus operated like Mussolini’s trains: always on schedule.

Maybe the stress of having to act the part of a young woman befitting a hedge fund manager with a sizable family fortune brought on my “Are You There, God, It’s Me, Margaret?” moment.

When I was presentable again, you patted my arm and told me to smile. “Everything will be ok.”  That’s what you said.

And you were right.

I don’t know if it was my ill-timed period or the too-soon step of meeting his mother, but Marc broke up with me a few weeks later.  Thinking of that brunch makes me laugh as I remember myself, the daughter of a mobile home salesman, trying to clean up like Eliza Doolittle, only to leave a bloody smudge on my chair and a giant mess in the sink.  I also think of you and feel the years of regret that I didn’t thank you more properly.

I hope the Ritz appreciates what a compassionate and capable employee you are.

Thank you, Carmelita.

Hooking up with Yeah Write, the weekly challenge grid.  It’s for bloggers who write, and writers who blog.  Click on the link and check it out. I do it for the community, the feedback and because I don’t know how to stop doing things, but that’s another story.  Check it out.


51 thoughts on “Thank You, Carmelita

  1. First of all, I was terrified that this was going to be a miscarriage post, so I am very glad that it is not. And secondly, so glad that you had a helpful attendant. I’m sure that wasn’t the only time she’s had to do that. Finally, it sounds like you dodged a bullet with the crazy potential mother-in-law, whew!

  2. I love that I remember listening, in awe, when you shared with me about the spilled blood six year ago; my memory is hazy, but I am picturing you telling me this as we bumped into each other at the EBC turnstile. After I bumped into you, I do remember putting on my headphones, getting on my damn spin bike, and turning up the volume to Ani DiFranco’s Blood in the Boardroom. . .

  3. Other than the fact that you could have cried on your piles of money about your crappy mother-in-law, it is quite obvious that you won that situation hands down! And seriously, why does crap like this ALWAYS happen when you least expect it? Great post!

  4. Surprises me every single time. Every time. I’ve ruined more clothes that way….That’s why I buy supplies by the case from Amazon. And avoid public places. 😉

    Love that someone helped you. What an awesome stroke of good luck. You know, given the rest of the horrible luck.

  5. Ok, I am glad to read a Yeah Write post that does not exactly track my life. I was beginning to think we were twins separated at birth. Even though I hadn’t been there myself, once again you told a story that transported me there. When can I read your full memoir?

  6. Oh my. What a horrific story all of us can relate to in one way or another. Perfectly told, as usual. I hope Carmelita is still there and her boss reads this and she gets a raise.

  7. Ah, so many times I’ve not thanked someone properly at the moment they helped me. I tend to freeze in bad moments and I don’t really understand what happened or the extent to which someone helped me until much later, and then I feel like a complete fool for not having been more grateful up-front. And. . .maybe that was your body’s way of screaming, “Don’t marry him! Warning! Warning!”

  8. Okay, Miss. This story could not be better or more perfectly told. I was engaged and laughing from the start. Oh, I felt your pain and adore your love letter to Carmelita, an angel in disguise. Add in the references to Mussolini’s trains and Eliza – perfection!

  9. You have a lot of interesting experiences in bathrooms. Last week you were hiding out in one. This week a nice person rescued you. Sounds like she was better company than the real fur entombed mom. Good description. I also like the Mussolini running the trains on time reference. And the second person worked, at least for me. It’s a lovely tribute to those people who pass through our lives, and with whom we wish we would have spent a few more minutes to let them know they mattered to us. Nicely done.

    • Yes, second person is so weird, right? When do we ever do that? It’s a little coy, but what can I say? And you have no idea my history with bathrooms. I’ll spare you tonight, but someday….it will all come out.

    • Marc, Marc, the hedge fund wunkerkind who is still single at the ripe age of 50ish. Oh the bullets I’ve dodged. And again, he probably feels the same way. He was a very private person so blogging and him would never agree.

  10. I love that some Ritz-Carlton social media bozo is going to read this 🙂 I hope Carmelita does too. What a moment. In hindsight it wasn’t your body betraying you but possibly…helpfully sabotaging the whole situation? Nice one, body 🙂

  11. I think your body was trying to tell you something….Get out! And it sounds like it was right. I really enjoyed reading this, although it did make my lunch a tad less appetizing 🙂

  12. You really know how to start a great post in the bathroom. That’s gotta be like a whole genre, right? I love the intimacy and the vulnerability of it – in both recent posts. I too thought this was going to be a miscarriage post, and was relieved it went in another direction. Still, what an awkward moment! You captured it beautifully as usual!

  13. Wonderful and horrifying post. I’m so glad there are still kind strangers out there, and babies and nursing have wrecked my train schedule as well. While I haven’t had a similar experience, I feel like it is only a matter of time before my uterus plans a surprise party for me on white pants day. Well done!

  14. I think every woman out there has been betrayed by her body at least once. No matter the circumstance it is always mortifying. We should all be so lucky to have a Carmelita there when it occurs.

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