More Like The Painting

Dearest Rachel –

After two or three hours of rinsing off pots and pans to be put through the sanitizer (using nothing but cold water, since otherwise it wouldn’t be enough hot for the sanitizer, so… that was fun), I joined the rest of the guys in setting up the dining hall for some kind of karaoke night. Among other things we put together a whole bunch of plastic margarita glasses. Don’t ask me how you create a margarita without alcohol; that’s Deidre’s concern (she’s the one putting together the menu, including, apparently, the drinks).

Since, as one of the younger guys later told me, “you don’t want to be over there – there’s a bunch of middle-age ladies singing karaoke,” I decided to head back what they referred to as ‘the workers’ cabin’ in order to stay out of the way until I was needed. However, upon checking with Becky (who’s handling the schedules), I got the impression that I wouldn’t be needed at after this point.

It’s an older cabin, so old that it doesn’t have a name on it, but at least it does have indoor plumbing; two bathroom stalls and a shower. This will become important shortly.

As there’s nothing more to be done on my part, I take the time to rest in the cabin. If nothing else, I figure I generally need to stay out of sight during any down time – the guests don’t want to be bothered by ‘the help,’ after all. We need to remain invisible and silent, like the ninja.

Or maybe it’s just me. Apart from one father and son duo, I never see anybody in the cabin until suddenly, everybody shows up and prepares themselves for bed. Were I not so tired already, I would’ve asked where everybody had been; as it is, one guy talks about having been ‘around the lake,’ and commenting about the mosquitoes. I think I made the right choice to stay inside. Besides, the place has a portable air conditioner, so it’s nice and comfortable in here.

Well, at least as far as camp cabins go. Sleeping on this wooden plank with a mattress about the thickness of a King James Bible (in fairness, I’m talking about the kind that would be displayed on the podium of some ‘high’ church, but still…) is another matter entirely. My sleeping bag adds an extra layer, but once the chill of night starts to fall, and I have to get inside it rather than laying on top of it, that extra layer of comfort is reduced noticeably. It’s all part of the camping experience, I understand, but it’s one of the reasons I’m not fond of said experience. I used to be able to sleep on the ground, back when I was in high school and before, attending camp at Fort Wilderness and the like, but I’ve gotten too old for this. Still, I managed to rest – if not entirely sleep – until nearly seven o’clock.

And here’s where the bathroom situation actually becomes a situation.

Yes, it’s convenient to not have to walk across the camp in order to brush your teeth, or if you need to use the facilities in the middle of the night. But remember how I said there was a shower stall here? Yeah… there’s like eight guys in the room I’ve set myself up in, and I don’t know how many in the room on the other side of the bathroom (like the newer cabins being put up, it’s a duplex, with indoor plumbing, unlike the three dozen or so original cabins scattered about the camp in groups of six), and one shower stall. I’m sorry, but no matter how grungy I feel in the morning (and after those hours even just rinsing pots and pans, you can bet I’m feeling it), I’m not waiting in line for that.

Plus, there’s the question of privacy. You could walk in on me, and someday – Lord willing – Megumi can walk in on me, and I’d have no problem with that. But some random guy, waiting his turn for the shower? Ehhh… not so much. I hated having to do this in junior high, and I despised it when I was at camp. There was at least one session when I only consented to shower when my counselor threatened to throw me into Spider Lake, clothes and all.

But it occurred to me, even in my sleep-fogged mind, that this was a women’s retreat. This meant that, for all of the bathrooms scattered throughout the camp, the men’s side of each of them would be empty. I’d have the place all to myself. It may require a little bit of a hike, but I’ll need to walk over to the dining hall, anyway.

I notice music as I step outside, coming from the lake area, I think. It sounds like the girls are doing some kind of aerobic workout. So, maybe this retreat wouldn’t interest you, necessarily, and you wouldn’t think that you were missing out.

Anyway, I trek on over to the bathroom by the dining hall, and sure enough, I don’t walk in on anyone and they don’t walk in on me.

Honestly, it’s a lot more like ‘September Mornthan the day I applied that title to. Only, I’m not as cute as the girl in that picture – and I don’t dare try to find out if anyone on the other side of the building is.

A quick soaping up and rinsing down, and I’m feeling like a human again. And, unlike Nero, I didn’t have to burn down half of Rome and use it to build my palace in order to do so. However, like Rome, I take longer to put together than I expect; it’s already eight o’clock as I’m drying myself off, and I’m supposed to be at the dining hall. I scramble to put myself together, and make my way there as quickly as I can these days (which, to be honest, isn’t as fast as I – or they – would probably like.

But even though I understand myself to be running late, I’m asked to sit down and have something to eat.

Although, when you’re dealing with a stack of pans in each of three sinks, even before the guests come in, I’m not feeling it. The job comes first, then I can relax.

Although, I’ll say this much: there’s nothing like cleaning off the remains of someone else’s food to remove your desire for any of your own. There’s an old saying about ‘never trust a skinny cook,’ but given that most cooks seem to have to deal with the cleanup at some point, I can see why some of them would stay skinny. Maybe I can make it work for me.

Anyway, I have to get back to this job. I’ll try to get in touch with you later.

Until then, honey, keep an eye out for me, and wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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