Yesterday, or, "You Are Perspiring Heavily"
Beyoncé could have urinated in this very toilet.
This was the thought that raced through my head as I, too, took care of a human excretory process that she and I both share. I was at the recording studio, preparing to lay down the vocals for my upcoming debut rock opera album. Just kidding, I was recording episodes of the podcast my darling gal pal and I started a few weeks prior. I could write a terrific tome (alliteration alert) about our time behind the mics. The interviewing, chatting, and general tomfoolery with the audio engineer equated to the two of us having the best day ever. I could probably make you gag with all the metaphors and extended analogies—“It felt like home,” etc.
Yesterday really was a red letter day, but only because I chose to let it remain that way, instead of allowing the accumulation of unfortunate events that occurred after the studio to dictate my feelings. I realized that it was possible to have an optimal day, even if a stranger walks up to you to proclaim how heavily you are sweating. How? It’s all about perception and lessons learned. Let me lay it out for you, timeline-style.
2:00 p.m.— Berkeley
I look at my phone and offhandedly check google maps to see how long it will take me to get to my next destination (downtown SF, tutoring). For reference, geographically, it should take maybe twenty-five minutes. But, living in California, we all know that traveling three miles might take three hours, depending on the time of day. Google Maps gives me a glaring red ETA of 3:01 pm. I must be there at 3:00. I flee the studio in a flurry of crystals, self-help books, and a giant bag of spoiled meat. We’ll get to that part in a minute.
Lesson Learned: Newtonian time is still not my favorite, and try as I might to be unaffected by the idea of being late to things, I can still very much be shook. Oh, how I long to live in a world free of conventional time. One day, one day.
2:11 p.m.— still Berkeley
I realize I haven’t eaten lunch yet. I eye my protein pack (turkey, cheese, and cashews) that is located on the top of my lunch box. I ignore the fact that it was not ice pack adjacent, therefore not at all cold. I chow down on four pieces of turkey, until I realize that the slimy texture was probably indicative of something going wrong. A sense of foreboding stills my Hyundai Sonata. Actually, I’m still just in traffic.
Lesson Learned: Turkey shall always be ice pack adjacent. Always.
2:27pm— ah yes. still Berkeley
I breathe a sigh of relief as I roll up to the Bay Bridge signs on the freeway. Until, that is, I see that they are stamped in yellow with the word “Toll.” I hope that, maybe, the toll is collected by a friendly ogre or troll or orc. Maybe I can pay them with some of the spoiled food in my bag, because I’m starting to turn green and my stomach has flipped, so it is of no use to me. Also, I have no cash dollars, so I’m not sure what else I’m going to offer the individual at the tollbooth.
I see the first sign that indicates what safe passage across the bridge will cost me: $4.00 (not the tiniest billy goat).
It is at that point I issue a bellowing cry to God, while choking back the bile building in my throat. Yes, that turkey definitely made me sick.
“I WILL find enough money in this car to cross that damn bridge.”
I dig through crevasses and nooks and crannies while creeping closer and closer to the toll booth. I call my husband to ask him if he could google what happened to people who couldn’t pay their tolls (“Is there such a thing as a toll booth penitentiary?”) and I weigh the option of leaving the car behind and fleeing into the city on foot, weaving in between cars like an action hero. Then, I decide to open my change purse instead.
Lo and behold, a veritable Coinstar machine’s worth of change. I know, no matter what, I’ll have enough to make it through. The grand total? $4.02. Yes, I could pay the toll, and still keep my two cents to myself. I laugh at God’s grand joke, then roll up to the tollbooth.
Lesson Learned: God is always listening. He is very funny. Also, there is no such thing as toll booth prison.
2:31 p.m.—you guessed it. Berkeley
Grinning, I greet the toll booth operator. “I’ve got four dollars,” I exclaim happily. “It’s just all change.” Unamused, the man tells me to drive my car closer to his window, because his arms aren’t twelve feet long. I hand him the first three dollars, all in quarters.
“These are all quarters,” I explain, very necessarily.
Then, I hand him my DNP pile (dimes, nickels, pennies). “There’s the last dollar.”
I wait. The man looks at me sadly, and delivers the news. “I’m sorry, we don’t accept pennies here.”
My face falls. My stomach turns. I’m definitely going to throw up. Maybe from the turkey, but possibly from sheer despair. I wail (yes, I actually wail), “But this is all I have!”
My tollbooth compatriot stares at me for a long second, then starts laughing. “I’m only joking! You’re too beautiful not to joke with. Do you need a receipt?”
I did not need a receipt.
Lesson Learned: Not all jokes are funny.
Traffic is crawling, and I resort to sitting with a fabric reusable shopping bag in my lap, because I’m almost certain I’m going to throw up. I’m sweating, both from the heat, and my addiction to being on time, and possibly from food poisoning. Who knows, at this point? I did know that it was my sister’s birthday, and I need to call her and wish her good day, which I did, while gagging and driving my car at eleven miles per hour.
Lesson Learned: You can distract yourself from vomiting by talking to loved ones (handsfree of course. I’m not a monster).
2:59 p.m.—San Francisco Parking Garage
I swing the car into a spot and slam it into park. I made it. All of my innards are still inside of me, too. My gratitude knows no bounds. Except, where was I exactly? On the third floor of a parking garage with no idea how to get to my next destination in one minute. Thankfully, a man is also locking his car and appearing to be going through the motions of exiting. Desperate, I ran up to him.
“How do we get out of this place?” I jogged up beside him, bags clanging against my butt.
To this wonderful gentleman’s credit, he didn’t miss a beat. He let me follow him like one of those darling preschoolers on a string, and even pointed me in the right direction when we left the garage.
I have arrived! Or so I think, for a brief second. Actually, I am parked in the wrong garage. Where I need to be is four city blocks away. So, I do what any sensible thirty-year-old woman with blisters from her adorable but uncomfortable velvet boots would do in this situation: barrel down the streets of San Francisco at breakneck speed.
It worked, mostly. I get to where I need to be, albeit very, very sweatily so.
Lesson Learned: Not everyone in the world is unapproachable. Most everyone in the world is better at directions than me. Therefore, I need to make friends with approachable cartographers.
3:08 p.m.—City Streets
Well, I underestimate the power of my sweat glands and I overestimate the amount of clothing I needed on a September day on my unintentional jog. I am really sweating. Like, pouring down my face, hair soggy, armpit stain-type glandular activity. I am not the only one uncomfortable with this. No, a fellow pedestrian—I’d clock him mid-sixties, professional, 5’5’’, avid newspaper enthusiast—approaches me about this issue. Very closely, I might add. He was inches from my face when he exclaimed,
“You are perspiring heavily!”
Thank you, sir.
“Do you need directions?”
If only the appropriate set of geographic coordinates could turn off my skin secretions.
“Nope, I’m great,” I replied with a tight-lipped smile.
Lesson Learned: The general populous is always looking out for you.
I’m laughing all over, just writing this down. The fun didn’t stop here, either. I had to pull my false eyelashes off in the middle of the vestibule of a public library (because they were too distracting to my pint-sized reading companion). Why the vestibule, you ask? Because we were told no reading aloud was allowed. In the library. In the children’s section. So we were sent into the chairless entryway, where we were later provided with two seats that we could sit anywhere “except in front of the emergency exit.”
But you know what? Yesterday was a phenomenal day. First and foremost, because I had the opportunity to actualize a big goal of mine. But secondarily, because I was able to take every last hiccup provided by my transit trials and tribulations and see it as a lesson learned via the conduit of a gigantic, sweaty cosmic joke.
Because you know what? I bet Beyoncé* gets super sweaty sometimes, too.
*Author's note: I didn't realize until after I wrote this piece that Beyoncé may or may not be very self-conscious about sweating during her shows. It is a "reportedly" kind of rumor, so who knows, really. I'm a very sweaty betty. I can do three jumping jacks, and drip drops start falling into my eyes. It's nothing to be ashamed of, Queen Bey. Some have told me I sweat so much because my body is in optimally conditioned physical health. That could have been to console me, of course. But no matter!