After I applied to the Yale Writers’ Conference, I spent months fantasizing about what would happen when I actually arrived here. I pictured myself enraptured by the written word to a nearly orgasmic level. I assumed I would attend classes on the “craft” and sit in on lectures by the masters and then spend my evenings holed up in some ancient dorm room built when the state of Texas was still Mexican territory.
Some of my fantasies have come true. Sitting in a lecture hall listening to Richard Seltzer while the sun streams in through a stained glass window is a sublime way to spend a few hours. And while I still (and forever will) hate the word “craft” as applied to writing, I’ve enjoyed every nanosecond of every single discussion about writing.
Here’s what I didn’t fantasize about.
Co-ed dorm bathrooms.
It seems strange that all I’ve been through as a mom hasn’t sufficiently toughened me up for the bathroom situation here. The bottom line is that we share bathrooms (toilets and showers) with our male RAs. They look like they are all of 12 years old. Do you think that a youthful Yale student wants to see me grabbing my towel as I emerge from the shower stall? Do you think he wants to go back to his room and ponder what the hell happened to her breasts?
The guys had told us during orientation that they wouldn’t be around much so we shouldn’t worry about running into them while we were taking care of business in the bathroom. Great, one less thing to worry about. Except, that I did run into one of them. And there is zero space in the shower for anything you want to keep dry, so, yeah, it got awkward.
And you know how I do awkward, right?
I start talking. Words. Lots and lots of words.
“So sorry about that. You should know that young women’s bodies don’t look like this. Wait. You probably already know that. I didn’t mean to imply you were a virgin or had never seen breasts. I just meant that you’ve probably never seen a nursing mother’s breasts. Or maybe that’s your thing. I hear there is nursing mom porn. Actually, I only nurse on the right side, but the left side did a ton of nursing back in the day, so neither of my breasts are representative of what you are going to encounter out there in the world.”
It was all I could do not to explain to him where I was in my menstrual cycle and the effect that was having on my breasts.
Poor thing. He didn’t know what had hit him. He’s just trying to take his morning wiz and he runs into the chattiest mommy on the planet who WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT HER BREASTS. I mean, I’m almost 40, but to his 20-something eyes, I probably look like a brunette Betty White (with lopsided breasts).
I knew I should stop talking and just disappear back into my suite, so we could both keep moving and avoid eye contact with one another for the rest of our natural lives.
Dear readers, I exercised some blessed restraint for once in my life. I wrapped that towel so tight around me that I could hardly waddle out of there. My shower shoes smacked the tile with each step, but I swear I heard him say something under his breath.
I’m pretty sure it was what the fuck was that all about?