Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I'm at my best when I'm naked

It’s in the shower that I usually think of funny things.

That’s probably kind of telling, hmm?

Well, maybe I shouldn’t say ‘funny’. Maybe that’s misleading. More like things I consider clever or witty. But anyway, it’s true. Maybe it’s not that uncommon. Maybe there’s something about being wet, naked, comfortably warm and in semi-darkness—that whole womb deal—that lets us be a little more confident. Or maybe we’re just bored and have to start thinking just so we don’t fall asleep, fall down, and bang our heads on the enamel.

One thing I tend to do is relive old confrontations where I came out on the short end, not because I was wrong necessarily, but because I wasn’t fast enough to think of what to say. In these imaginary little tête-à-têtes, I always know just what to say. Unfortunately, alone, several weeks or months later, it’s of little good. But I always think of this as training, and hope that maybe, eventually, I’ll get good enough at it that when I really do need to pull something devastating out of the hat, I’ll be ready.

I’ll give you an example. In summer time, I like to wear sandals on my own time. Frankly, I’d rather go barefoot, but at this point in our society that’s just a little too far outside the envelope, so I compromise by wearing the slightest sandals I can get hold of. That said, I find them uncomfortable for driving, so I usually drive barefoot, and put them back on when I get where I’m going. I also find them hazardous for climbing stairs. Descending is fine, but I’ve tripped ascending a few times so I’ve acquired the habit of kicking them off to climb. I live a few floors up in my building (where the timely arrival of the elevators is a semi-annual event), and usually take the stairs. So, when I get home, I have a walk from the car to the stairs of less than a minute, and as often as not, I don’t bother putting the sandals back on, just to have to take them off again a minute later.

One evening, some pimply building security geek in the underground parking lot is standing there with his pencil and clipboard. It happened to be one of the evenings I wore my sandals on my hand on the way to the stairs rather than my feet, and this guy has the brass monkeys to comment as I pass, "I guess it'sa good thing there’s no broken glass on the floor." All I could do was mutter a tongue-in-cheek little reply like "yes, thanks for the excellent service".

Cut to me in the shower, a couple of weeks later, still bothered by the fact that this rent-a-cop had the gall to suggest to me, a paying tenant, how to comport myself in my own building. Sure, now I knew just what to say. If only there were shower booths handy, like phone booths Clark Kent can duck into to become Superman! I would be Wet Naked Rejoinder Man! I’d jump in, draw the curtain, strip off, soap up, and then give people like prim ‘n pimply a well-earned blast of cold shit. I’d lean out the corner and say, "Listen, buddy, for thirteen thousand dollars a year, there better not be any broken glass on this floor when I walk over it. Or up on the pool deck where the kids run around barefoot. Or in the hallway where the old ladies take exercise walks barefoot. This is our home, and we pay good money to people like you to make sure we’re safe in it, not to tell us how to live. Get me?"

I’m thinking of instituting a prize for the first practical portable shower stall. Till then, I’ll just have to keep practicing my barbs between choruses of The Man of La Mancha.

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