I stop by Lainey’s house to say hi without calling first. I hesitate for a millisecond, but her house is right on the way back from my doctor’s office.
When she answers the door in her pajamas (it’s noon), I instantly regret my decision to show up without giving advance notice.
“MOV!!! How the hell are you? Wow—I haven’t seen you in ages. Come in!”
“I’m sorry I didn’t call first,” I begin, embarrassed by my rudeness, “did you just fly in on a red-eye flight? Did I wake you up?”
“No, no, I’m off today. I’m just lounging around at home. Dylan is sick, though.” Her voice drops to a whisper, “I think what he’s really sick of is A.P. Art History.” On cue, Dylan pads across the room with a laptop folded under his arm. He nods at me with a glint of recognition, like I’m a clerk at Starbucks that he might’ve seen once or twice instead of someone who was in the hospital delivery room with his mom fifteen years ago.
Lainey offers me some orange juice, and my anxiety about not calling starts to melt away. We sit down and get right to business, gossiping and catching up as if we haven’t seen each other in years instead of weeks. The hour hand darts across the face of the clock like a scared lizard being chased at the beach.
“Oh, geesh, Lainey, where does the time go when I’m with you? I have to pick up the kids soon.”
I excuse myself to the bathroom and am appalled by what I see. The bathroom looks as if it has never been cleaned, ever. A colony of dead spiders lie huddled in the corner, having given up on the will to live. The mirror is smudged with hardened toothpaste flecks and black dots of indistinguishable origin, the sink is host to some sort of wicked science experiment, the floor is sticking to my shoes, and the toilet mercifully closes itself and announces that I’m better off finding a deserted Chevron station. The violent odor causes me to involuntarily wince, and I see malicious little amoebas everywhere, evilly smiling up at me.
I think, What happened to Lainey?! I knew she wasn’t a Virgo, but I was not prepared for this.
I gingerly flush the toilet even though I didn’t use it so that Lainey will hear the sound of it flushing. I make a mental note to cut my hand off later or at least bleach it.
I scurry back into the kitchen to say goodbye.
“Lainey, it was great seeing you. Hey, uh, I really owe you an apology, though. I should’ve called first instead of just dropping by. I know for me, personally, I hate it if people don’t call first, you know, if they just show up.” I offer a weak smile, as if to say, Your bathroom is really bad.
“No worries, MOV! Seriously, you are the only one who thinks like that. I love it when friends stop by, all spontaneously and impromptune. It’s fun!”
I cannot let it go. “I guess what I’m saying,” (besides the fact that you are going to contract Bubonic Plague and die), “is that, for me, I clean the bathroom for company. But you didn’t know you were going to have company. So is that good company or bad company? I’ll tell you what it is, it’s inconsiderate company, because definitely I should have called first. It was rude of me. It absolutely won’t happen again. I'm sorry.”
“Stop! You’re crazy, and I love you for it.” She leans in for a hug. “I’m not that way—I don’t stress about friends coming over, I mean, if it’s a good friend. MOV, listen: even if you called first, I wouldn’t have cleaned! You’re like family! I know you don’t judge me, so I can just relax and be myself. To hell with the bathroom. So what, Dylan forgot to put the cap on the toothpaste and might’ve left his hairbrush out or a towel on the floor? He’s a teenager! Who cares?”
She grins wide, revealing shiny teeth from an expensive dental brochure’s “After” shot. How do her teeth look so good with a bathroom like that? Where does she brush them—on the airplane?
As soon as I get home, I take a long shower. Then I rinse off with water as hot as I can stand. I tell The Husband my story later that evening.
“MOV, you should take it as a compliment that she didn’t clean up. That’s how she meant it—she isn’t trying to impress you. Come on, Lainey is one of your oldest friends, way back from your United days. She loves you!”
“Well, I guess I see what you mean …”
“Anyway, we gotta go. We’re supposed to pick up Tom and Kelly and go out to dinner.”
“We’re not driving separately?”
“No, parking is really tight. It’ll be a lot easier if we carpool. We already had this conversation, remember? Hey, do you smell soap?”
We drive over to Tom and Kelly’s, and Kelly meets us at the door with a tray of appetizers in her hand.
“I thought we could have a glass of wine here before we go,” she says by way of greeting, “because I couldn’t get us a reservation before 8:30.”
I sip my Pinot Grigio. My mind keeps wandering back to Lainey's filthy bathroom while I try to listen to Tom and Kelly tell funny stories. I force myself to focus on Tom's gravelly voice and Kelly's winsome laugh. We don’t know them well; The Husband only recently met Tom while out playing basketball.
I politely ask to use the powder room. “Sure, second door on the left,” says Kelly helpfully.
I walk in and see a ten foot square magazine page come to life, the magazine being called simply “Model Bathrooms To Strive For,” or “Blissfully Beautiful Bathrooms You Can Dream of Emulating,” or some such. It is a retro 1920’s bathroom that has been updated in all the right spots. The white pedestal sink is classically beautiful, the gilt-framed mirror reflects the bright overhead light, glass shelves hold soaps and decorative bottles, the penny-round floor tiles scream vintage charm, and the walls are freshly painted a fun shade of bubblegum pink. Beyond the décor, though, what I notice is how pristine and sparkly everything is.
Tom and Kelly obviously hate me.