It is not their fault, it is mine.
After work today, and with the support and permission of my school (for which I am grateful), and blessings, support, and complete spoiling by the goddess Tina, I travelled up to Yale to study Crime Writing for four days.
Yale, even for four days, seems like a fascinating opportunity. Once accepted, and in the rush of the moment, I was so thrilled to be in workshops on the Yale campus and eating meals in the cafeteria that I even signed up for a dorm room.
Didn’t flinch at the no A/C advisory. Not then, anyway.
Didn’t think through the shared bathroom facilities information. Not then, anyway.
Then I got to campus. Wondrous architecture, vibrant energy, a beautiful rainbow of people everywhere. It truly was the Yale I imagined.
Ninety-eight percent of that rainbow was in their twenties, including my momentary guide, Erin, was was perfect, and younger than my sons.
And yet, not a single alarm could be heard through my thick cloud of Yaleness.
As soon as I entered my immaculate, spare, dorm room, however, reality slithered its steaming clutches around me. Even while thanking the truly helpful Erin, the sweat began. Real sweat. Profusive sweat. Sweat like I haven’t sweated since my teens years in an air-condition-less Parkchester apartment in The Bronx. The kind of oppressive sweat that takes your lunch money.
I opened a window in the otherwise perfectly fine dorm room, and was met with the elegant fragrance of Indian food from the restaurant across the way – and very nearly a bird. But not so much with a cooling breeze.
I lost a pound in those few moments, by my own professional estimation.
I checked out the restroom and bathing facilities, maybe a cool breeze was hanging out in there.
But there was one shower stall, two toilet stalls … and access doors open to both dorm wings…
Slowly, it dawned on me; those alarm bells I couldn’t hear before were clanging at top volume now, announcing the fact that I would be sharing these facilities with guys and girls, most of whom are younger than my sons.
Younger. Than. My. Sons.
Polite, intelligent, impressive people whom I have lived two-and-a-half times longer than.
I found myself actually aghast (and Bronx guys never get aghast, they don’t even get chagrined) to realize that I theoretically could walk in on a guy or a girl showering, or doing the other natural functions of this room, which is something that does not happen in my own home. Or worse, they could walk in on me. Imagine the trauma they would suffer at witnessing the geezer lurching out of the shower! The resulting years of required therapy for these unfortunate kids could derail careers!
And, yes, I know that college kids are cool with this, not even an issue, bro, but I am not. The hard truth is I am 55. The potential letch factor that leapt up was approximately the size of Godzilla.
What the hell was I thinking?
As usual, the goddess Tina rescued me, agreeing that this could wind up being awkward at best, and more likely would be unintentionally creepy.
In a display of efficient grace under fire, she simultaneously confirmed that, yes, I was about 35 years past dorm life and resolved the problem (though I did contribute sweat and mild freak out).
Thank you, La Quinta, for having nice, air-conditioned accommodations including my own bathroom.
Maybe I was forced to face some hard truths about the limits of my age, but at least I did it from the comfort of environmentally controlled solitude.