I am in the bathroom of my apartment in Fairfax, California. I have been here for a long time, at this point close to an hour. No, I do not have the runs. Or a stomach virus. I am here because there is a stranger in my living room talking to my husband. Because of the floor plan of this apartment, I can't leave the bathroom without being seen by the stranger. If I am seen by the stranger, I will have to introduce myself. My husband will not introduce me because introducing people is a social skill he hasn't acquired. I will have to say, "Hi, I'm Bronwyn," and the stranger will say, "What? Brownwyn? Bronson? Benson?"
At age almost thirty, I am sick unto death of this routine and so I have opted to remain in the bathroom until the stranger leaves. If necessary, I'll stay until midnight. I'll curl up on the bathmat with a rolled towel under my head and sleep here. If the stranger needs to relieve himself, he's out of luck because I AM NOT UNLOCKING THE DOOR.
In the meantime, I take down my hair dryer. I turn it on high and its amplified mosquito-sounding whine drowns out the voices in the living room. I have already towel dried my hair after stepping out of the shower half an hour ago and it is no longer wet, just slightly damp. I try to create an old-fashioned pageboy hair style by turning the ends under with my comb. My hair is slippery and fine and rarely cooperates with any attempt to control it. Consequently, half of the ends turn under and the other half insist on flipping up.
After awhile, I get sick of the hair styling ruse but I can't stop because I'm out of reasons for remaining in the bathroom. The stranger probably already thinks I'm weird. That's okay, though, because the year is 1973 and, in Fairfax, California, which is about 30 miles North of San Francisco, it's still au courant to be weird. In fact, I could be sitting in here stoned out of my mind on acid and most people wouldn't bat an eye. If discovered, I could say, "I'm really digging the molecules in this shower curtain," and most people would say, "Cool!" and go off in search of their own alternative reality.
Right now, though, I'm thinking that being held prisoner in my very own bathroom by my very own choice is massively dysfunctional. It's not my fault, though; it's my parents' fault for naming me Bronwyn. It's also my husband's fault for inviting someone I don't know into our apartment.
I notice that the hair dryer feels as if it's overheating but I'm afraid to turn it off. Also, my hair has begun to smell singed. I summon up courage by taking one deep breath, then another. On the third inhalation, I turn the dryer off.
I listen. Listen some more. No voices. Nothing. With trembling hand, I unlock the bathroom door and opening it a tiny crack, peer out. My husband is humming but that doesn't tell me anything. My husband is always humming even while he talks. He is a musician but his music is complex, unconventional and, speaking on behalf of the unenlightened public, generally unfathomable. I can't decide whether he is a genius or a schizophrenic. Maybe both.
I speculate on what will happen if I venture out of the bathroom. Possibly the stranger, who has been hiding in the kitchen, will pounce on me. "Gotcha, Bronson!" he'll say, laughing.
Finally, after five minutes of nothing but humming, I take my courage in hand and walk out. No one is there but my husband who has picked up his guitar and is plucking the A string over and over. He doesn't notice me until I sit down next to him and clear my throat. "Oh..um, hi, Bronwyn," he says, and I am thinking now that I'm lucky to be married to someone who will never think to ask me why I have spent the last two hours in the bathroom.
I want to ask about the stranger but decide it is better just to let it go. If it was hospitality he was looking for, he won't be back anytime soon.