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@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
The Ladies Restroom
Three years ago I was using a restroom in Universal Studios/Island of Adventure Park. My parents had just moved to Florida, and so, we went there with my cousin because we’re all kind of nerdy and we enjoy and appreciate a fun action ride based on films. Anyway, after relieving myself, I go to wash my hands (naturally). It’s one of those motion censor sinks, and as per my luck, the water is not coming on. I’m simply waving my hands across multiple sinks with soapy hands to no avail. Had I not been seeing my own reflection, I’d take such a sign that I may or may not be a vampire.
A woman emerges from a stall. I don’t even look at her. Social anxiety will have me avoiding people anyway, and this goes double for people in the restroom. I will pretend they don’t exist at all, and I’d prefer they also pretend I don’t exist at all, unless someone is stranded in a stall and needs a toilet paper handover.
She sees that, for me, washing my hands, the struggle is real. And then she says, “you have to have dirty hands for it to work.” She puts her hand under the sink and water immediately spews out. “See,” she says, eyeing me, the tone of her voice dropping a key “I’m dirty.”
This caused me pause. I was careful not to make eye contact with her. Was she coming on to me? In the restroom of a family amusement park, no less? I couldn’t be sure. What a strange interaction. I wanted to run out, but my apparently not-dirty-enough hands were still covered in suds which I would wipe away on my shorts.
In my drunken youth, I often used the men’s restroom. Because there wouldn’t be a line. The only time I’m ever obnoxiously confident is when I’m drunk. Actually, I wish I could take some of that confidence and give it to timidly sober Lori who’s insecure at least half the time. But a drunk Lori will slip into the men’s bathroom, and when exiting and getting looks from dudes, say something really douchey and bro-y like, “yo, dude [inaudible mumble],” and then walk out. From the ages of 15 to 22, at least half of everything I said started with “yo, dude.” And from ages 15 to present, at least half of everything I say ends with an inaudible mumble.
Let’s move forward to current day(ish), or more specifically, comedy clubs. Some comedy clubs have comics bathrooms in the back, which is preferred. But sometimes you are forced to use the bathroom with patrons of the show. This is awful for a number of reasons.
Don’t worry, I was going to elaborate anyway.
There have been times I’ve been in a bathroom stall and women are talking about how unfunny the female comedian was (me). In the early years, this was more common because I was new and all new comics pretty much suck. I remember on more than one occasion sitting in a stall, hearing some dumb ass PTA mom bad mouth me, partly wanting to die, partly wanting to punch her in the face, partly just wanting to cry and leave the comedy club and never return to the stage again. Of course, I would just sit there and wait for the coast to be clear so I wash my hands and then return to the green room/bar with my head hanging low. Poor little bashful Lori, shaken, yes, but that never did stop me from going back on stage. If that happened now, I would just come out of the stall and make it uncomfortable for all of us. I’m uncomfortable almost all of the time, I don’t mind spreading that around sometimes.
Alas, after years and hundreds of shows, I grew from being a fledgling comic to a semi-professional comic who is still insecure and neurotic but has more contempt for dumb audiences, because, fuck you, I can write a damn good joke. So these moments of women talking about how “women aren’t funny and that blond girl is proof” turned into, “I usually don’t think women are funny, but that blond girl is so funny! Sick in the head! But funny!” This, for some reason, is even worse for me. I can’t take a compliment. I still hide in the bathroom stall if women are singing my praises. They need to leave before I can come out. Hopefully there’s not a line because then I’m doubly screwed.
What am I to do in these situations? Jump out of the stall, smiling, thumbs up, like, “heeeyyooooo, guess who it is! It’s me! That funny girl who was just on stage!” Jump into doing a jig (though the idea of jumping into a jig in a bathroom is so funny in itself, it might be worth doing). I would never do that. I’ve removed my glasses in attempts to make myself unrecognizable to patrons (the reverse superman/Clark Kent! It works only sometimes!).
Having a run in with an audience member in the bathroom happens all the time. Sometimes it’s an awkward, semi-forced, “you’re really funny.” I say “thanks,” even though I’m thinking, “don’t look me in the eye!” Other times, people are really excited to see you. I’ve had many women hug me in the restroom, rejoicing the fact that I’m a woman in comedy and I have balls and I should keep going and I’m funnier than Amy Schumer and they love me. (To be clear, I have never claimed to be funnier than Amy Schumer. People just like to compare me to her because we’re both female comics with blond hair, I suppose. I am now sometimes compared to Michelle Wolf, probably because we’re both females and have annoying voices.) It’s kind of nice to hear such praise, but again, I tense up and mumble a thank you and run out of there as soon as I can escape, which is sometimes hard because they literally grasp my arm or rub my shoulder. I don’t like to be touched. Why do people think it’s okay to touch you? Now that I’m writing about it, it’s possible I’ve been sexually harassed by women as much as by men. At least men know they’ll get in trouble if they embrace you in a bathroom.
Also, just as people who have never seen me do stand-up are surprised I’m a comic because I’m quiet off stage, people who have only ever seen me as a stand-up, I think, are surprised that I am not that confident, articulate person on stage. I’m a mumbling and twitchy and often times cowering.
I’ve saved the best bathroom story for last.
When I first moved out of my parents house some four years ago, I was working full time and doing comedy every night and I had driven myself into a state of exhaustion and depression. While my car was parked in the street in my new neighborhood, someone crashed into it and I had to take it to the shop where I would foot a bill that I could not afford nor was it just that I had to pay for it. I was extremely stressed out.
I had taken a train to a comedy club I frequent (which will remain nameless, though if you know me, it would be rather easy to guess) to do a guest spot on a new talent show. It was a late Friday show. I’d come from work and I was an overtired mess who hadn’t showered and I was hell bent on getting drunk because, fuck it, I didn’t have to drive anyway. I was getting a ride home from another comic later.
At this time in my career, I almost never drank before shows. Even now, I’ll have maybe one or two drinks, but not even enough to get buzzed off of. I like to be clear headed on stage (it’s the rest of my life I don’t like to be sober for). But this day was an exception. My agenda was to get loaded. Plus, it was a new talent show, so it didn’t really count, and I was a “pro guest spot” so I would inevitably kill because everyone else on the show were newbies (recall what I said before about all new comics not being very funny).
Even the bartenders noted that I seemed doubly depressed, and downtrodden is kind of my default state. There was no hiding my sheer hatred for all of the world, including (if not especially) comedy at that moment. None of it seemed worth it. Not just comedy… everything.
So that’s where my head was at.
Audience members are seated. The new comics gather in the bar, more nervous than excited. I’m boozing and going over my notebook, undoubtedly hating everything I’d written. One of the new comics enters with a posse of a couple of guys and a smoking hot Latina girlfriend. All of the comics stare, drooling over her. Including the emcee and the other guest spots who are my friends. She is way out of her boyfriends league and pretty much everyone is ogling at her and/or trying to talk to her. She’s a ten and she knows it. She flaunts it, with her tight fitted jeans, midriff showing, killer cheek bones, and long black hair. She’s a sexual creature and she is not ashamed to hide it. All eyes on her and she loves it. I too acknowledge her hotness and then I go back to brooding about my empty life.
Perhaps because I wasn’t paying any attention to her… Or perhaps because my wardrobe screams “I may or may not be lesbian,” but I look up and she’s at the bar, standing a little too close to me, asking about my notebook which was a pretty big tell that I was a comic.
I don’t really remember how the conversation started because I remember quite specifically being annoyed and wanting to be left alone. I really didn’t want to talk to anyone. There were jokes in my notebook that needed fixing. She had a bunch of questions about my comedy and I answered them and she was surprised I was not only a comic, but that I had been doing it for years (probably because I looked so young).
Anyway, as a symptom of being a late bloomer, I had been notoriously niave and/or slow to pick up when people were hitting me, but she kept placing her hand on my arm and leg and laughing a bit too hard at my jokes about hating my life when, over her shoulder, I noticed the other comics looking with jealously/awe that this woman was, in fact, hitting on me… hard.
Suddenly, this situation became hilarious. That an open micers hot girlfriend was hitting on me and the other comics (my friends) were both envious and weirdly turned on. Without asking my permission, she starts buying me drinks and I accept them. You should know that comics have insane egos, and I’m no exception, so it delighted me that I could brag about this to the other comics that they didn’t have a shot with this girl and she wanted me. Yo dude, I’m a bit of an egomaniac with a bit of a competitive “bro” mentality [inaudible mumble].
The show has started and she’s still at the bar talking to me. The emcee gives me the line up and I’m going up early and I have a good buzz on and my mood has been lifted because sometimes my life is a living sitcom. She retreats to the showroom. I go over my notes one last time. The other comics joke about the attention I’m getting from this beautiful woman and I throw it in their face and mock them, because ultimately, deep down, I’m just a comic and I love to mock my fellow comedians. As predicted, I had a killer set (not bragging, it was an easy room). I come off the stage a hero (haha– not bragging, just being a dick now), and who follows me back to the bar, but my girlfriend.
Now, she’s really all over me, and the other comics are seething/drooling. Her boyfriend is there, but he doesn’t seem to mind. She buys more rounds, and, it’s official: I’m drunk. She takes my phone and calls her number from it. She thinks I’m a much bigger deal than I am, and I try to assure her; I’m just a broke struggling artist with a tormented mind, and I swear, the more deplorable I make myself out to be, the more she seems into it. Meaningless void! What a turn on!
As aforementioned, I’m drunk, and, ipso facto, I have to pee. So I go to the bathroom to empty my bladder (probably superfluous information because you probably didn’t assume that I squatted in an alley way to pee).
When I exit the stall, I realize that she has followed me into the bathroom. She brushes the hair out of my face and says, “I’m curious about you,” with a mischievous smile. It took me a second longer than it should have to realize that she was about to kiss me. I remember thinking, “oh fuck, she’s going to kiss me, what do I do?!?” As if I’ve never kissed anyone nor denied many a kiss. But it all happened so quick, she pulled me to her from my belt and we started making out. I know, I was kind of surprised too.
My thought process went something like this:
“Wow, she’s a good kisser.”
“Am I gay now?”
“I hope a waitress doesn’t walk in.”
About a year later, some of the comics who were at that show reminisced, “remember when that really sexy girl was hitting on you and we were all jealous and also turned on.”
“Yah,” I said laughing and then confessed, “I made out with her in the bathroom.”
A pause and a look at shock.
“How come the fuck you didn’t tell us this sooner.”
Coyly, I grinned.