Friday, May 13, 2011

Unspoken Things

With a little trepidation that this post might get me into hot water, I plunge on anyway because somethings just need to be said.  This is a PG-rated blog and and fully intend to keep it that way.

In life, nice Christian women follow rather strict conversation decorum.  There are topics that one may broach only with close friends and then there are issues that are left unspoken.  Marital intimacy, dark family secrets, childhood abuse, etc, are spoken about in hushed tones, tiptoed about with knowing looks when really it would just help people to air out their thoughts in a safe forum, because buried secrets, wounds or even just normal daily functions are part of life.  Sometimes we even find we can laugh about it, removing some of the awkwardness, reminding us of our humanity, and instilling an element of healing as laughter is good for the bones.

And it's the last category of normal daily functions that everyone does but nice Christian girls don't ever acknowledge that I'm addressing now.

Today, at work, all the female co-workers of course used the ladies room.  We all do. Everyday.  We even greet and chat with each other in there, all knowing that we're in their for only a couple of specific purposes, but never letting on.  In my first morning visit to the restroom, I noticed something seemed a little off.  It was warmer, for one.  And the sink water was a little too hot for my taste.

Upon my second visit, things had not changed, so I decided to risk asking the question to a fellow female coworker who I knew I could trust.

"Um, so, there's something really weird in the bathroom." I was unsure how to bring it up.

She raised her eyebrows, waiting, but probably equally unsure as to whether she wanted to flee the conversation that opened like that.

Oh, just out with it, Abigail. "The toilet water is hot." I blurted out.

My friend emitted a cute, nervous giggle, eyes wide, but intrigued.  "Really?"  Then the awkwardness grew. "How, um...Well, how....oh, I guess there are multiple ways to figure that out...."

We both started snickering.

"Well, the seat seemed a little warm--" I hastened to add that I was using one of those sanitary seat covers, of course, but that it was sort like sitting on a sauna.  We chalked it up to a weird experience and changed the topic.

After finding the toilet seat sauna phenomenon still occurring later that morning, I stopped to get a drink at the water fountain and bumped into another friend who I could be totally honest with.  When I recounted my experience to her, she cut me off with her customary frankness (she's a recovering "nice, Christian girl"), "Yes!  I thought my buns were burning!"

I decided to do a quick poll of the office.  When confronted with the topic, the response of most women in the office ranged from extreme awkwardness and hesitation to smothering of giggle and perverse humor.  But once it was out in the open, everyone acknowledge, they too had noticed the hot water (not boiling, but there was steam) in the toilets.  Bringing it up allowed us to relax and laughter with snorts and thigh slapping filled the office.

It also begged the question of why and we all realized that no one had reported it to maintenance because it was too weird and awkward of a subject to bring up.  So, meanwhile, our employer was flushing money down the drain because we were all too polite to report it.

Needless to say, we did report it. By accident, the hot water was turned on and flowing to the toilets and sinks and making everyone uncomfortable.  Hopefully the experience has led us to some greater openness about difficult topics.  Here's hoping we have another potty, I mean, party, soon. 

Laughter, indeed, good for the soul.  So are toilet saunas it steams.

3 comments:

  1. This cracked me up. Oh, the differences between teaching elementary students and working in a "Grown-up" office. I am having fun imagining those conversations! Wouldn't such things make great short sketches?

    Once again, I am convinced, everyone ought to help out in a Kindergarten classroom for at least a year. It puts a fresh perspective on all sorts of things.

    But on the theology side of things, sometimes I wonder if we have made privacy a virtue, along with cleanliness and being nice. God calls us to something much higher, and more difficult - speaking the truth in love. And isn't it funny that when we do this, it really is freeing and sometimes even hilarious.

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  2. Great thoughts, Ros. :-) Your idea of how we've perhaps made privacy a virtue is very interesting. While I think there are important privacy/relational boundaries that exist, I think you're on to something here!

    I love the way young children are without guile. They have nothing to hide (until we teach them) and really do, as you say, help put life into perspective.

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  3. PS-Ros, are you suggesting mandatory kindergarten--for adults? ;-P

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