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.
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