Great. It’s almost eight and I’m less than an eighth of the way finished with my research. I try not to give too much attention to my grumbling stomach.
While I prefer to cook my own meals most of the time, our dinky office kitchen is not the place for me to whip out a five-star vegan meal.
The next best thing I figured I could do is order an epic meal from a five-star vegan restaurant.
Picture it: a meatless pâté with pan seared potatoes, sautéed roquettes, and a slice of deathly dark chocolate cake. I salivate at the thought.
The perks of working in advertising is that there are many perks. A company credit card is one of them. And while I don’t have explicit permission to use mine, this is a company emergency if I’ve ever seen one. Imagine the horror that would surely ensue if I, the lead Junior Copywriter on our company’s biggest account, passed out cold from sheer hunger and was rendered incapable of completing my task. Chaos. Catastrophe. Sheer pandemonium!
I look at my phone to see if I’ve got any texts from friends or, more importantly, a delivery update from the restaurant. Nothing.
What’s going on? My food was supposed to be here hours ago.
…Okay, so twenty minutes ago, but still.
Maybe I’ll just wait outside for the delivery guy; I need a break from my screen anyways.
As I get up from my desk I realize it’s been hours since I used the bathroom and I feel a poop coming on more strongly than a poop has ever come before.
Clenching my cheeks together, I waddle form my desk to the hallway, trying to keep cool as sweat begins to trickle down my neck.
I barely make it to the bathroom when Gerry, our maintenance man, steps out.
“Sorry, Ms. Venus—it’s out of order.”
Pivoting, I squeeze my legs together and yell, “ThanksGerryrememberit’sjustVenus!” over my shoulder.
The only other bathroom is on the other side of the office. I don’t think I can make it there.
I feel the sweat gathering in my armpits as I imagine being henceforth known as the girl who pooped herself at work.
Is that a step up or down from Wet T-shirt Girl?
I pause when I realize: I’m the only one here! Plus Gerry, but he’s different. He works for the company, but he doesn’t work for the company. He’s not one of us—I’m not even one of “Us” and I think that’s why we like each other—being two outsiders together, we kind of make our own outsiders club.
My stomach releases a loud grumble just as I make it into the bathroom, blessed be! I pass a tall woman dressed in all black, staring at the wall.
Strange. I thought I was the only one left in the office. Plus Gerry.
“Ahhh…” I exhale graciously as my cheeks hit the porcelain. On a night like tonight here’s no time for seat protectors.
My breakfast pours out of me—with interest.
What could possibly have upset my delicate tummy so?
I think back through everything I ate today and realize I’ve only eaten breakfast, washed down with ten cups of coffee.
Or should I say, poops, as my stomach contracts and I release the Second Coming.
It’s a symphony of sounds that almost sound like “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“Hey,” a deep voice startles me out of my pooper stupor. “That almost sounds like “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“I was just thinking that!” I pause before exclaiming, “This is the ladies room!”
“Is it?” The voice sounds smiling.
“Yes—I’ve only been trying to get HR to make this a non-gendered restroom all year, so I would know.”
“If you want to make the restroom all-gendered, then why does my presence even bother you?” The man continues, “And you’re making some pretty big assumptions about my gender.”
I don’t know who this person is and I’m thankful I will never know. Not even two minutes into the conversation and my hypocrisy is being highlighted. The nerve.
He continues, “But you didn’t get it wrong; I’m a man’s man. The thing is—” He pauses for dramatic effect: “This is the men’s room.”
I hear the sound of running water as he says, “And you know how I know?”
I speak before I stop to question why I’m even entertaining this: “How?”
“That is the sound of the urinal. You can take a look if you’d like.”
“No, thank you, I’m a little occupied at the moment.” My stomach grumbles as a fresh stream of my innards exit my body.
The stranger seems to back away.
“You’re right,” he says with a chuckle. “Definitely don’t move.”
As his feet step closer to the door, I breath a deep sigh of relief and rest my head on my thighs.
“Wait!” My head jerks up and the mysterious feet stop in their tracks.
I bite back my pride and sigh:
“I need toilet paper.”
I put on my most serious sounding voice: “I’m sorry, what?”
Ugh—I hold back my groan; that sounded just like my father.
“This stall is out of toilet paper. Would you grab me some?”
I’m about to tease her about not saying ‘please’ when she adds in a sincere “Please.”
The bathroom smells like you-guessed-it and I should have left five minutes ago when the first fart sounded.
Maybe I just reeeeaaallly don’t wanna be editing right now, but for some reason, I still don’t wanna leave.
So I’ll mess with her.
I realize we haven’t had a proper introduction. Walking over to the stall beside hers, I open the door and take a seat.
A loud grumble sounds from next door. I hear my neighbor hold back a groan.
“Everything alright in there?” I ask gingerly.
“No!” she bites back. “My guts are exploding and—” Her phone buzzes. “Great. My delivery is here!”
She pauses before quietly adding, “Is there any chance you could get it for me?”
“Hang on a second—we haven’t even exchanged names and you want to send me off galavanting into the unknown for your late-night munchies?”
“It’s only 8:15!”
“And you’re still at the office. What team are you on?”
Her stomach grumbles again.
“That is for me to know and you to never find out.”
I sit back in my seat. This is actually entertaining.
“Let me guess—Accounting.”
“Never! I mean—I can neither confirm nor deny that statement.”
She’s way too animated to be an engineer, so that oughta rile her up.
“No—ugh!” She curses herself for answering and I’m glad she can’t see me smile. I find her impulse endearing.
“What’s your name?”
“Uh uh.” I hear the clank of metal as she shakes her head—earrings?
“I told you you’re never going to know my name.”
“Never ever ever —oh poop.” Her phone buzzes beside her. “No pun intended,” she adds before answering with a weak “Hello?”
I hear a muffled voice speaking fast and low. My mysterious friend can barely get a word in.
“Please—” she chimes, “I’ll be down in five minutes—five!” The low voice interrupts. “Okay, two.”
A moment of silence passes before Mystery Girl moves. Quietly, she coughs.
“Are you talking to me?”
Her earrings clank and I imagine she’s rolling her eyes.
“Look—my extra-special, late-night-in-the-office meal is here and the delivery guy is threatening to leave and come back at the end of his rounds. That could be tomorrow for all I know! I've got two minutes to get downstairs and at least ten minutes here on the toilet still.”
She pauses before adding: “Would you pleeeeeaaaaaase get it for me? I’ll do anything!.”
Hearing my smile she adds, “Within reason.”
I don't even blink. “Of course I’ll get your food.”
“You will?!” I can hear her smile, too.
Walking towards the door, I speak languidly. “Of course! I’m a nice guy, always willing to help a stranger out.”
“Thank you!” She exhales, probably for the first time since we started talking.
“Oh,” I add innocently. “I’ll just need one more thing to get your food.”
I hear her groan and double over.
‘Never’ came a lot sooner than expected.
She sighs—“I guess ‘never’ came a lot sooner than expected. Venus.”
“What?” She just said exactly what I was thinking.
“It’s Venus—my name. I’m Venus.”
“Venus…” I let the ‘S’ trickle slowly off my breath. The air feels charged and I wonder if it’s just me who feels it.
Venus shifts her feet. “And you?”
“Me?” I blink slowly, trying to remember what she could be asking me about.
“Mars,” she repeats, letting the ‘S’ sit on her breath as well.
I stand in a bit of a stupor when my phone buzzes in my pocket.
“Hello?” I listen to the speaker with great interest and hang up, smiling. “Well, Venus, it looks like we’ve got perfect timing between you and me: my delivery guy is here as well.”
I turn on my heel and open the door before adding: “Meet me in the break room.”
Out of the bathroom, the air is clearer, but my mind is not.
“Venus…” the name slips off my tongue and I smile.
It looks like it’s going to be an interesting night after all.
Tune in next time to find out just how interesting our duo can get.
‘Til then, I wish you Love, Light, and Peace of mind.