Love and Sensitivity

I Do Some Embarrassing Things for Love

I realized I do some embarrassing things for love while standing outside the women’s restroom at the Arclight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. The Artist had just ended a few minutes earlier. I’d already taken care of business in the men’s room and was waiting for my girlfriend to exit the ladies’.

I knew my girlfriend would emerge at any moment, but I was growing impatient. Sometimes I joke with her and ask if she fell in. It’s not very original, I know, but as I was waiting, I started to think it had really happened. Along with all the women coming out, maybe after adjusting their blouses or powdering their noses (I imagine them literally doing this) or putting on lipstick or whatever, I pictured my girlfriend in there using the hand dryer to blow-dry the entirety of her outfit.

Like most boyfriends, I’ve waited outside bathrooms a million times. We always finish first and end up waiting. There must be perpetual lines for stalls in the women’s room. Are there lines for the sink as well? Lines to look in the mirror? To powder noses? How many minutes does it take to balance yourself just right, to hover over the toilet without actually touching it?

I was okay at first. “Take your time,” I had said (I always say this). “I’ll meet you right here.” I’m always standing outside the women’s restroom with my hands in my pockets. Before I realized it, though, I was staring at the women emerging into the lobby of the Arclight. I was the first thing they saw as they exited the restroom. That’s when it occurred to me that they might find me a little … um… creepy.

It also occurred to me that these women didn’t necessarily know I was waiting for someone. Was it possible they thought I was just hanging out, trying to get a peak of them through the swinging door?

I’ve experienced a moment like this before: as I waited for my girlfriend outside the fitting room in Urban Outfitters, the official Urban Outfitters dressing room attendant questioned me. “Um, can I help you?” she asked. She thought I liked reading the store’s trendy books in the proximity of women in their underwear. “I’m just hanging out,” I told her. She cringed and looked like she would alert the authorities. So I finally told her, “I’m waiting for my girlfriend.”

At the Arclight nobody cringed or looked frightened, but I didn’t exactly look cool. Even though I was technically on a date, my girlfriend and I are long past the point of trying to impress. I went to the movie in jeans and a sweatshirt, each of which I should have left in the clothes hamper. My hair was probably a little matted. My eyes must have looked tired. Had I appeared as disheveled in the Urban Outfitters? Did I look like a bum standing there checking out woman as they left the bathroom?

Maybe I should’ve just walked away. Maybe I should’ve stared at the wall. I could’ve looked at some retro Cinerama Dome photos hung near the bathrooms. I thought about standing back by the stairs where my girlfriend would have been bound to see me. But we had agreed to meet right there. And no matter how many times I’ve done this before, no matter how many cumulative hours I’ve spent waiting outside the women’s restroom, I always think she’ll be right out. She’ll be the next person to exit. I thought maybe I should peak through the door a little, just to see if I could spot her in line.

So, hell, I did look through the swinging door. I did scan the line to try and identify my girlfriend; with any hope she would be drying her hands and on the way out. Instead, I saw a middle-aged woman with a flowery top. I guess since I was getting a little antsy, I had to see this lady’s white hair before finally realizing she was not my girlfriend.

Oh, okay, here she comes, I thought. She’s bound to be the next out, I told myself, right behind the middle-aged white-haired lady. Instead, I ended up apologizing with my eyes to a teenage girl in a polka-dot shirt; there was another guy standing behind me who was waiting for her.

If I had gotten ahead of myself, it was just that I was so anxious to see her. The movie had ended, and we had walked right out of the theater straight to the bathrooms. We had agreed upon a future meeting point, but we never got a chance to talk about the movie. We never had that obligatory “Whattdya think?” moment, and I wanted to know what she thought of The Artist. The five minutes (or was it twenty?) outside the restroom were just too much to bear. I felt the time had come for us to walk out, to get in the car and go home. Maybe, I’d hoped, we’d finish off the date with a little dessert.

Oh, shit. I had starting thinking about sex while standing outside a public women’s restroom. But that wasn’t creepy, right? I just had to look away. To be patient. I looked at the photos. The aerial view of the Jaws premier at the Cinerama Dome interested me immensely.

Chris Black lives with his wife in Los Angeles. He is a former associate editor at Black Clock and wrote feature articles on rubber duck races, birds of prey, and other mountain topics for The Vail Trail weekly.