Where’s Scarlet?

Well fiddle-dee-dee! Where’s Scarlet?

Hiding in the bathroom.



My grandmother had spent hours making a replica of the emerald and white picnic dress that Vivien Leigh wore when she played Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. I was obsessed with both book and movie when in junior high.

And there I was at the junior high Halloween Dance, all dressed up like the brazen and bold Scarlet, yet nervously standing in the corner of a small bathroom off the side of the cafeteria. All the bathrooms in the school had an ever-present odor of sulfuric rotten eggs lingering in the air; the smell was there if you were the first person in the bathroom for the day–or the last. And the smell heightened whenever someone would be washing her hands around the sink. There were two green stalls, and a semi-circular sink that you stepped on to get the water to come out of little spouts. Six girls could wash their hands around that sink simultaneously. I must have washed my hands at least 80 times while my stomach was churning and my heart was pounding. The awful smell of the bathroom probably didn’t help my nerves any!

Through the girly gossip grapevine, I found out that the boy I liked, and that I was actually ‘going out with’, one Michael with chestnut hair, brown eyes and dimples, was planning to ask me to dance. I did what every normal girl would do: thought of the one place he couldn’t go to find me–the girl’s bathroom. And picked up my long skirt and hightailed it there as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, I could hear my girlfriends chatting (and plotting) outside the bathroom–trying to find the best way to coax, manipulate or just plain force me out of the bathroom. And the more they pushed, the more obstinate I became.

M and I never actually danced at that event. I was too terrified to touch him (or have him touch me). I spent 2 and half hours of a three hour dance holed up in that tiny bathroom. I’d peep my head out and dance with my friends to some Ace of Base. Then get the news of M. heading my way, and quickly duck back into the bathroom.

But that evening began a pattern for me: the minute a boy expressed some sort of interest in me (whether or not I returned the sentiment)–suddenly I could never talk to him again, much less look at him.

J’s the only exception to that rule. And wowies, it took a lot of work to make that exception happen!


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