Frank’s Maiden Voyage to the Senior Center
By Dan McClenaghan
Jolene enrolled me in a class, something about learning how to baby my ailing heart. I bitched about it, but acquiesced. The morning of the class, I ate my English muffin and washed it down with two cups of coffee, jumped into my car and aimed myself at the Senior Center.
The trip was a smooth flow, traffic was light, and, as I veered onto the off ramp, a sudden realization hit me: I had to pee, bad—that second cup of coffee. The Senior Center was, fortunately, a mere four blocks off the freeway, snuggled into the border of the barrio, in a retired and renovated fifty-year-old elementary school. I careened into the lot, skidded to a stop at the closest available parking spot, and strode to the entrance of a former auditorium, tripping over the root of a gigantic ficus tree that had buckled the blacktop, falling to my hands and knees, and rising to move on, a man on a mission to find a urinal, fast.
I spied a bathroom just inside and bee-lined. Seeing no icons for male or female, I assumed it was one of those one-seater, gender-neutral places. I opened the door: four stalls, no urinals. A tip-off that I’d made a mistake, but the urgency of my situation made me ignore caution. I moved full speed ahead, into a stall, closed and latched the door, and let my river flow.
Halfway through this voiding, another person entered the bathroom and took the stall next to mine. I looked under the partition to see a female shoe—an open toed sandal with cherry red toenails sticking out, pointed in a direction that told me she was preparing to take a seat. Fabric slid on flesh and a pair of plain white panties appeared below the partition, spanning a pair of stick-thin ankles, followed by a trinkle tinkle.
As I finished my business and zipped up, with the plan to immediately beat feet, I heard the main door open, and a chattering pair of women entered the room. So I climbed on the toilet, with feet on either side of the porcelain maw, so they wouldn’t be alarmed at the site of male footwear, and I—holding onto the metal safety bars—scrunched down, so my head remained below the door and partition.
But it was too late. My neighbor must have spied my size eleven Nikes, pre-toilet mounting. “Who’s there?” she wanted to know, with a thump of a small fist on the thin wall.
“Oh, just one of the girls,” I answered her in an unconvincing falsetto.
The panties slid up out of sight, then the feet disappeared, and eight fingers with nails painted red popped up over the partition, followed by a head full of grey curls surrounding a face creased up with suspicion. The expression deepened into one of deep disgust when the woman saw me, hunkered down on the toilet.
“Pervert!” she accused.
“I can explain,” I pleaded.
“Is that a man?” I heard one of the new arrivals say.
I considered using the falsetto again, but quickly changed my mind. This was time for action, not talk, so I bolted, slammed back my stall door and made for the exit. The new arrivals screamed, and, as I pushed into the foyer, my toilet neighbor jumped on me like a cat and clung there piggyback style, screeching to all who would listen that she’d apprehended a deranged creep.
I stumbled toward the center’s front door with eighty-five pounds of peeved septuagenarian on my back. I swerved in an attempt to dislodge the old girl by scraping her off on a stout potted palm in the entryway, without success. As my foot hit the parking lot, she—trying to claw my eyes out—caught her pinky finger in the corner of my mouth. This, apparently, gave her the idea of trying to stretch my mouth around to the back of my head. As I approached my car, I tried to bite the intrusive finger, but before I could sink a tooth, I once again encountered the root of the ficus tree. I tripped again, and we went down together.
We wrestled. I used my superior weight to roll on top of her, and I pressed my forearm into her throat to cut off her oxygen supply, to keep her from clawing my face off. She went slack, and I leaped up and ran, jumped into my car and, tires screaming, got the hell out of there.
“How was the lecture?” Jolene asked when I arrived home. “Did you learn anything?”
“I did,” I replied. “I learned that I should skip that second cup of coffee.”
About Dan McClenaghan
I write stuff.
I began with my Ruth and Ellis/Clete and Juanita stories in the early 1980s. At the beginning of the new millennium I started writing reviews of jazz CDs, first at American Reporter, and then (and now) at All About Jazz. I’ve tried my hand at novels, without success.
I’ve been published in a bunch of small presses, most notably the now defunct Wormwood Review. This was in the pre-computer age, when we whomped up our stories on typewriters, then rolled down to Kinkos to make copies, which we stuck in manila envelopes, along with a return envelope with return postage attached. Times have changed.
Aside from the writing, I am married to the lovely Denise. We have three wonderful children and five beautiful grandchildren; and I am a two-time winner—1970 and 1971—of the Oceanside Bodysurfing Contest. Kowabunga!
Photo credit: ohmyGaly via a Creative Commons license.