I’m sitting in the aromatic family store again on a beautiful, sunlit afternoon as Putumayo’s Sahara Lounge plays. Coffee and taboule sit on the counter. Pedestrians, languid in the sunshine, window shop contentedly. Sometimes, I lie on the floor and consider how I can photograph a single object or group of objects for the store’s website. I think about it and think about it, then I do it, then my sun-drunk mediocrity soaks into the fabric of the web.
Two weeks ago, I popped into the family store and my sisters’ mother went full-metal hinty.
Joan: You used the bathroom before you came here?
Tata: For years. What?
Joan: You might not want to use ours. Did you know gas builds up in toilets? I didn’t know that. The toilet blew up yesterday. We found the lid on the floor. Imagine if one of the kids had been in there. Dan spent half the night with a wet vac.
Tata: Wait. Are you saying that the toilet blew up, sending the tank lid flying through the air and the pipes spewed raw sewage?
Joan: You should have smelled the basement.
Tata: And when did this happen?
Joan: Last night!
Tata: Just as soon as I quit puking I’m going to laugh all day.
Thus, spending the day at the store is a mixed blessing as we regard normally dependable indoor plumbing with suspicion. This is especially serious as I have the hair-trigger gag reflex, meaning that Daria calls me every time she changes a diaper because hearing me try not to hork is music to her ears. Yesterday, Mary came clean, so to speak.
Mary: Remember on Saturday, when you came running into the store?
Tata: You were shouting, “DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT!” and my ears were burning, yup.
Mary: The toilet overflowed and I called my friend Mia. You saw her there.
Tata: She was there. Why did you call her?
Mary: To bring me the Target-red plunger. It had just happened. I was gonna tell you but I asked if you were working Sunday, remember?
Tata: I do remember! I was on my way to a dinner party and not working Sunday.
Mary: Yeah, if you’d been scheduled the next day, I thought I’d tell you why you might need two plungers. So I’m telling you now.
Tata: Are you saying I might need two plungers to use the bathroom? And why do I keep asking people what they’re saying?
Mary: Fear not, for I will translate.
Tata: Omigod, if you tell me the Charmin’s a plan I am going to yak on your shoes.
Supposedly, everything is working. Supposedly – but I doubt the bathroom! I fear it! A customer tells me I should open the Yellow Pages and find myself a bathroom therapist. I tell him they’re all bathroom therapists. He tells me I have a fear of bathrooms. I tell him no, just the one – just this bathroom. He laughs nervously and recommends an all-cheese diet.
Just now, the bathroom has forgotten about me. I have gained the element of surprise.