Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Totalitarian States and gender-stereotyped bathrooms

I had a rather alarming dream last week. I was carrying around a couple of grocery bags of stuff, at least some of which needed to be gotten rid of. I'm not sure whether I was planning on just dropping it off somewhere or whether I was going to give it to someone. I needed to stop in at the post office, which is where things got complicated.

In this dream, post offices were highly guarded, secure locations--I think they had started offering additional services, along the line of the passport services they already offer but necessitating tighter security (also, this dream was rather Totalitarian State, as you'll see later on). I was at a back service entrance, trying to figure out what to do with my bags of rejects. I couldn't bring them inside with me because of security issues, but I didn't even see a trash bin to dump them in. There was a pile of discarded stuff (a mix of outdated office equipment and just plain trash), but no official trash bin, so I guessed that it would be okay to leave them there while I went inside (and maybe forever, I thought, although I felt guilty about dumping them there sans trash bin).

There was a security guard involved in getting into the service entrance, too, and at first he seemed willing to let me in. Then things got bad really quickly. I don't know if he had actually seen me leave my bags with the pile of trash or if he just suspected, but he got very stern and started wielding the Long Arm of the Law and became very officious in his close inspection of my ID. The really alarming thing was that I realized that it wasn't my ID--it had been switched, planted, I suspected, by him or by an associate.

I don't remember the details, but there was some sort of knocking-about of a relatively mild nature but still very scary. I tried to protest that a false ID had been planted on me, but of course that only excited more suspicion and anger. Finally another security guard who had come from another area and who apparently had more authority intervened and let me go. The whole thing was very alarming, and I left as quickly as I could, still anxious about the items I had left by the door.

Then I was with my husband, somewhere in Europe. The location was ostensibly Geneva [I was talking about how pretty it was and how I missed it], although it didn't really look like the actual city, but more like how I imagine Stockholm or Copenhagen. There were a lot of 18th- and 19th-century buildings, some of them pink or yellow, and open stone plazas, mostly empty of people. It was really beautiful, and the fall atmosphere and cloudy day added to the appeal.

As we were standing in a plaza deciding what to do next, I realized that I should take advantage of the lull in activity to find a bathroom. We were next to some sort of museum, and I thought that would be a good option. I started looking around, but only found the men's restroom, and I decided to use it for the sake of speed (I was worried about my husband getting annoyed because I was taking too long, because he had already protested my preemptive and possibly unnecessary trip). It was extremely dirty, though, and there were two or three menacing looking young hoods in hoodies (!), which made me a little nervous. I decided to take my dog inside as a deterrent, hoping that she wouldn't betray her non-mean nature by being friendly to them [this is my real-life dog, who, being a pit bull with cropped ears, looks very mean at first]. Then I tried to find a suitable toilet, but they were all either clogged with paper or the seats were all dirty and wet. I wasted quite a bit of time trying to decide the best candidate for cleaning up a little, but finally gave up in despair, they were all so awful. I decided that it might be more time-efficient to just look a little harder for the women's restroom.

I found the women's restroom just around the corner, and it was completely different. It was the cleanest bathroom I'd ever seen, everything spotless and deodorized. It was all decorated with purple walls and gold trim, everything matching everything else, and the walls were covered with black-and-white pictures of Hollywood starlets from the 30s and 40s. I thought that was a weird touch. Apparently it was maintained by some kind of women's association, because there were signs (with a corny jingle that I regrettably can't remember) reminding members to clean up, and visitors of the members' hard work on their behalf.

I had happily done my business and come out of the stall when I saw that a small Italian woman had come in (how I knew she was Italian, I don't know). I was nervous that she would be alarmed by my dog and make a big scene about me having her with me, but instead she said, "Oh! A pit bull! I love pit bulls!" and started going on about the merits of pit bulls.

1 comment:

Curly Sue said...

Apparently you were teleported to a bathroom in southern Louisiana, judging by the purple and gold bathroom decor.