This morning, at 6 a.m., I headed out the door for my 15-mile training run. Now, I usually bring a small water bottle with me on long runs, but this morning I decided against it--I could hardly bear the thought of running for two and a half hours in the (dear-god-in-heaven-please-present-me-with-an-animal-carcass-so-that-I-may-crawl-into-it-) cold, let alone the prospect of lugging a plastic bottle filled with liquid for the entire distance. So I set off empty-handed, having mapped my route strategically, with public water fountains in mind.
Sounds like a good plan, right? (This is where you shake your head, marveling at my stupidity. It's okay, go ahead. Don't feel bad.)
The problem, of course, was that the water fountains had frozen overnight. I realized this after I spent a full minute slapping and punching the fountain near the bathrooms at the Fly; I finally put things together when I looked down to find myself standing on a sheet of ice. (Go ahead, please, I promise I cannot hear your snorts and chortles.). So I trotted into the ladies' room, where I hopefully turned the tap at the sink, only to be met with a meager trickle, which told me--I was catching on a little more quickly at this point--that the pipes in the bathroom had also frozen. I was parched, however, and with the knowledge that the next 12 miles would only leave me feeling more so, I bent my head and slurped. When I was finished, I turned the taps until I met resistance, then trotted off. At the top of Audubon Park, near the big playground, I found a similar situation: the water fountain, having frozen, was inoperable; the sink in the woman's bathroom provided me with a trickle. Once again I slurped, turned the taps until I met resistance, then headed off down the streetcar line.
About an hour later I stopped at the same restroom, to have a slurp and an energy gel. It took me several seconds to process the noise; it recalled a quickly flowing stream, though I knew nothing of the sort existed in close proximity. And that's when I saw the water rushing through the entrance to the bathroom, the same bathroom where I had stopped to--
Okay, you know what's coming, right?
--and yes, the sink was gushing water, so much that it had filled the small basin and had gathered in a two-inch puddle on the floor, topped the small ledge at the entrance, and was now spilling out onto the floor of the breezeway. I knew right away what had happened, of course: instead of turning the taps off, as I had intended to do, I had turned them all the way on, so that when the temperature rose just a little and the pipes warmed up, the deluge was initiated. And I was more than a little freaked out, looking around in panic as though someone in charge might realize that yes, it was I who had perpetrated this crime, then tiptoeing through the flood, soaking my shoes and the bottom of my pants, to turn off--off!--the taps.
Funny thing about shame, though: it really does tend to dissipate in the face of certain physical needs. Once, while enduring the Katrina gridlock at 9 months pregnant, I peed in a cup in the front seat of Cade's car, then handed it to him so that he could dump it out the window. So, this morning, despite my embarassment and desire to run far, far away from the scene of the crime, I stayed, I lingered, to look for an alternate source of water. I was so, so thirsty. I briefly considered the water in the sink--that's just how thirsty I was--before the thought occurred to me that, unless there is some male equivalent of me who runs around doing dumb shit really early on Sunday mornings, the men's bathroom would have a sink, and it would not be flooded. So, having determined that said bathroom was empty, I headed inside and turned on the tap.
I was busy slurping away when the door opened and someone stomped inside, muttering and cursing through undoubtedly frozen lips. I bent my head lower and prayed for obscurity, prayed that he would chose a stall, rather than the urinal which happens to be situated right next to the sink. But no such luck: he went for the urinal, and I can only assume that he assumed I was a man--a man of short and slight stature, perhaps--because he didn't seem alarmed by my presence, though we were so close at that point that our asses could have bumped. I slurped, in what I hoped was a manly fashion, while he peed, in what was definitely a manly fashion, and I thought the worst was over until he decided that hey, we're both here, we're both guys--let's have a conversation!
"Sure is cold out there, huh?"
I bent my head and considered my options. 1) Ignore him. Unfortunately, it is not in my nature to ignore people when they are speaking to me, and even if I did, he might assume I didn't hear him and come closer, thus blowing my cover and causing a most awkward encounter. 2) Answer, in my regular voice, and most likely cause a seriously awkward encounter. 3) Answer, in a...different sort of voice.
Now, you're probably sitting there shaking your head and muttering oh no she didn't, but I'm here to tell you that yes, yes I did, I most certainly did, I bent my head over that sink and I spoke like a man. I grunted, actually, in a tone several decibels lower than normal, in what I hoped was a manly fashion. And I guess it worked, because he wished me a good day, left, and I sat around, slurped out and humiliated, waiting until I was certain he was gone.
On my way back around the Fly, I noticed that someone had locked the door to both restrooms. Smart folks, they are. I hope they didn't get their shoes wet turning off- off!- that tap.
So there it is, my confession. Two points of advice: one, if you're going for a long run, bring your own water--it's just so much easier when all is said and done. And also, if you're going to Audubon today, you might want to avoid the ladies' room at the top of the park, near the big playground.