Thursday, January 13, 2011

The under the stall shoe check comes in handy

Last week Emily asked me what it’s like to constantly live in fear of being abducted. I’ve had a pretty intense fear of being snatched since, as I once detailed, I was five years old trapped in the most boring suburb in the U.S. of A. Nowadays I worry much less about being taken off the streets and all my nightmares are about people breaking into my apartment while I’m sleeping.

You’d think this would keep me up at night, but in fact I just let the situation wash over me when it comes up (usually after I see my creeptastic neighbor smoking and otherwise lurking in the shadows of our garbage bins when I enter my apartment) and then I work out a quick get-away plan before passing out like a baby. I picture very vividly how I would fight off the situation - usually this involves running out my fire escape and to Tali’s house a few blocks away. Why am I running away? A combination of adrenaline from escaping a life-threatening situation, and me not trusting the cashier who works at the corner gas station to call the cops. He seems like he could easily be bribed.

Emily’s reaction was somewhere in between amusement and actual concern for my well-being, which actually sums up our whole friendship pretty well.

I started thinking about other irrational fears that I hold and realized I have a few others that are equally ridiculous.

The first is assuming my card will be declined at restaurants. There is something inside me that is completely terrified my waitress will return to my table and stage whisper, “I’m so sorry, your card has been… declined”, in a tone that implies they’re more embarrassed than I am by my budgeting inabilities. What gives? I haven’t overdrawn since I was 19 and had a brief but intense Urban Outfitters addiction and no job. Moreover, I have overdraft protection so unless I spend enough to blast through my entire savings without noticing, my green curry with tofu will be covered. But that’s where the irrational fear comes in – every time the waitress approaches my table, I think “Here it is. Here’s the moment I realize: my identity’s been stolen/I lost my job but they’re too afraid to tell me and so they just stopped paying me and are hoping I’ll go away/I’ve been sleep-shopping and purchased the entire Anthropologie winter catalog”. If you know me IRL, you will now be endlessly entertained by my shifty eyes each time the credit card book is delivered back to the table.

I'm also consumed several times a day with the fear that I’m in the wrong gendered bathroom. This happens even in bathrooms I’m extremely familiar with, like at work or school. Once someone walks in, I become immediately convinced that the person next to me peeing is actually a dude. I have to talk myself down most times and then comes the big decision: do I flush and sprint out to wash my hands so I can do a quick urinal check? Or stay in there until they’ve exited and I am safe from the awkward freakout that will happen when the dude comes out zipping his fly? Curious about this fear’s impetus? Once at a dance recital when I was eight, I ran into a lobby bathroom in between my tap dance and the father/daughter dance (remind me to find pictures of my dad as Danny Zuko sometime, BTW). As I scampered out of the stall with my gold fringe skirt flapping in the stall door breeze, I was face-palmed by my friend’s dad who was finishing up at the urinal. “JESUS!” he yelped as he pushed my face down/away and quickly turned his back to me. As I cried out from the pain of falling down unexpectedly, I remember thinking only one thing “Huh. Lauren’s dad wears silk boxers. That’s weird.”

There you have it. I’m a total freak. Anyone else out there struggling with daily fears like these?

In sum, I’d like to dedicate this post to my friend Tristan, who wrote me a snippy email reminding me that I wasn’t blogging enough to keep her entertained during her busy season at work. Tristan, tell your AP department to cut me a check for boosting the productivity of their best 3rd year associate. Thx.


Tristan said...

Hi. I would like to observe that you posted this at's now 6:39pm and I've enjoyed this post over my dinner at work, which otherwise would have been consumed with me, but instead I laughed to myself while others in this conference room just concluded I'm crazy...but I'm now in a much better mood and will proceed to be an audit super star for the next 3 hours - so thanks G for the boost! I'll buy you a drink on Saturday:)

Jamie said...

DUDE. I also fear the bathroom thing. Happened to me at SLC Airport of all places. And now I run out and check sometimes. Especially at school because law school makes me even more neurotic than I am naturally.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I have the same fear that I've walked into the men's restroom and not the ladies. It's like my brain forgets that I turned right and not left and that I am indeed in the ladies room where I belong. But for the brief moment I can't be 100% sure.

Teresa said...

I've recently become obsessed with making sure I have my keys. I need one to the building doors, and one to push our button on the elevator. The buzzer's a little shoddy and my family's gone this weekend, so I'm in constant fear that I'm going to get locked on on the cold streets of New York where I know no one. I check my bag/running tights about 6 times to make sure I have them before I exit.