The Incident in a Macy’s Bathroom Involving Legwarmers

Once, when I was living in Vermont, a woman followed me into a public bathroom to talk about the 80’s.

I was in the mall in downtown Burlington headed towards Macy’s because their bathrooms were the only ones in that entire mall that didn’t have blood stains on every toilet, and more importantly, had coat hooks on the door. It was winter and I was on my way to the gym (the bus stop was next to the mall) so I was wearing purple compression tights and thigh high leg warmers.

I wasn’t going for an 80’s look. The 80’s does not OWN legwarmers. They are a sassy alternative to sweatpants and I happen to be quite fond of them. I no longer had a matching set at that time, so one of mine was dark gray and the other was blue pink and white stripes. I was also wearing a black sweatshirt with a pink zipper, a green vest, largish white headphones,and my gold Reeboks. The whole thing was a bit much, but it’s not like I was rocking a side ponytail and a pastel purple headband. The headband interfered with the headphones and had to be left at home.

I was almost to the Macy’s entrance when a woman cut me off from the left and stopped right in front of me. I was listening to music (through over-ear, fully visible headphones) and she started talking without indicating that she needed my attention so I missed the beginning of what she said, but when I removed my headphones I caught the end of what sounded like “…growing up in the 80’s. I’m so glad it’s all coming back.” Though a bit startled, I responded pleasantly saying something like “well I don’t know how stylish this is. It’s just what happened when I got dressed.” I smiled, stepped around her, and kept walking. I really did need to pee, otherwise I would not have taken this detour. The woman shuffled until she was walking parallel to me, and kept talking.

“Oh that’s just great how you can stand out! I mean, I’m sure you stand out without the clothes because of your personality. I have a friend at the office who likes to wear Converse sneakers in TWO DIFFERENT COLORS. It’s crazy! She always says that she needs more overtime hours so she can support her shoe habit.” The woman then laughed hysterically, as if no one had ever compared shoes to drugs before. By this time we were in the bathroom and as soon as I had forced laughter for what felt like an appropriate amount of time, I slipped into a stall.

Now, maybe I’m uptight, but when it comes to strangers, I consider chatting on the toilet strictly off limits. She continued talking and I sort of hummed nervously in response.

“So in the 80’s we didn’t have cellphones and one time I was out with my friends and we all got stuck in the parking lot because my mom fell asleep! Can you believe?”

“…yeeee..mmmm…uh huh!”

I didn’t hear water running. I didn’t hear her go into a stall. I didn’t hear her leaving. Was she waiting for me? Was she going to follow me to the bus stop, ride to the gym with me, and talk at me while I did leg presses? I just didn’t know. So I went into my phone, went to ring tones, chose a particularly irritating one, and faked a phone call. When I came out of the stall she was indeed standing there fluffing her hair in the mirror. I caught her eye and mouthed “I have to go”, gave a thumbs up, and scurried along. She seemed OK with it, but that was the day I decided never to remove my headphones for a stranger again.