Monday, September 8, 2008

That Guy on T.V. Has Seen Me (Almost) Naked

About a month ago there was a day when I went to the beach, and when I came home I immediately got in the shower. Everything about me was crusty with sand and salt, and there was nothing I wanted more than to be buffed clean and smooth.

When I got out of the shower, I started smoothing lotion on my legs. That's when I heard a knock, and I grabbed my robe and ran for the front door as fast as I could. A few days before my bathroom ceiling had caved in because my landlord had ignored a leak I called to tell him about every month since October. Whenever it rained hard, the ceiling started plink-plink-plinking water onto the floor of my bathroom. My landlord had tried some quick fixes--none of which worked, and the problem was getting worse. During the night of a particularly bad rain storm I woke at 3:00 AM and had to hold a towel over me as I went to the bathroom because the leak had gotten just that bad. Then a night or so later I came home from teaching and found that a few of the ceiling tiles had exploded. The whole bathroom was filled with filthy, soggy, and bloated remnants of those tiles. I was not pleased.

And this explains why I ran for the door when I heard the knock. I was thinking that it was--finally, oh finally!--that gangly boy the landlord employs to be handy around the house, and I could've cared less what I looked like when I whipped open that door because he was going to fix my bathroom. He was going to give me a ceiling. He was going to alleviate those walking nightmares I had as I puttered around my bathroom, scared that a whole army of wet and irritated spiders was going to march through the gaping hole and stare me down before they ate my body down to nothing but bones.

I barely had my bathrobe wrapped around me when I ripped the chain from its place and pulled the door open. I was all ready to say, "WILL A BEER MAKE YOU DO THIS FASTER? I AM ABOUT TO BE EATEN BY SPIDERS!"

But as I opened my mouth and tugged at the robe's belt, I realized that it was not the gangly handy man standing at my door. Instead, it was a tall man with silver hair. His mouth fell open when he saw me with a half-hitched-up robe and wet, tangled hair.

"Uhm," he said.

"Oh!" I said.

"Uhm," he said.

"Oh!" I said. "Well, I was expecting someone else."

He nodded slowly. He identified himself. Turns out, he was running for office. Important office. And he had come by to introduce himself. He was walking the neighborhood, getting to know the good people of this part of Maine.

"Well," I said, "that's good. That's nice. I'm just coming out of the shower." I touched my wet hair and tightened the belt of my robe.

"I see," he said. "Well, can I tell you about my positions? My ideas? Can I tell you what I care about?"

"I was kind of in the middle of something," I said. I did not add that I was in the middle of oiling myself up like some co-ed on her way to happy hour.

The man didn't quite care. He launched into his speech about renewable energy sources, about government spending, about education reform, about gas prices. He never once made eye contact with me. He looked at the floor, the ceiling, the wall, the back of the door. He wanted to look anywhere that did not include my wet, dripping body.

After he finished his prepared speech, I nodded and thanked him for coming by. "It was nice to meet you," I said as I pushed the door shut in his face. "Good luck!"

And just recently when I turned the television on I saw that man's face again, floating on the screen next to very patriotic images: laughing children, waving flags, smiling veterans. When he turned his gaze directly at the television screen, I got a major case of the blecchs. I thought of him standing in my doorway and shifting weight from leg to leg. I thought of him trying not to look me directly in the eye, for fear his eyes might wander to more southern locations. I couldn't remember a word he said about his platform, his ideas, his positions, but I could remember everything else.

Whenever his commercials come on I feel just about as dirty as a girl can get. Dirty, dirty, dirty.

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