[est. reading time: 2’12”]
The bathroom is immaculate, like a work of art. I dare not touch anything. The wallpaper has a mother-of-pearl sheen, there are beautiful Japanese prints and a faint smell of Jasmine fills the space. The towels seem folded with the use of a ruler and the toilet bowl itself looks like a delicate piece of China. I had only gone in here because I needed to escape the crowd downstairs.
I hardly knew anyone and everybody seemed to ask the same boring questions; about work, about how we met, did we plan to start a family together? Their interrogations were simultaneously intrusive and superficial, typical of people making small talk without being genuinely interested. After humoring them for the sake of my boyfriend for an hour and a half, I had started to feel claustrophobic. I needed to leave the room before I would say something I would later regret or worse something that would damage Jeff’s chances at that promotion.
Because that is why we are here, to show his superiors that he is the right man for the job. That he is deserving of the chance they are about to bestow on him. And he does deserve it. He has worked so hard the last couple of years, staying late, taking extra courses, even playing golf while he actually hates the sport. All for the sake of upward mobility, to break through to the next tier.
To become a contender like Marlon Brando wanted in On the Waterfront. I just hope our story won’t end as tragically as that film did. It would break my heart. Yet standing in this bathroom, breathing deeply, my aggravated breath is making my nostrils flare. I suddenly realize I want him to fail, want this night to turn into a disaster. Because I said something improper or used the wrong fork. These people feel entitled to everything; to judge what does not fit their perception of the world, to feel superior because they never have to worry about making reservations or standing in line.
And I should know, I come from their world. But I emigrated long ago. Stifled by the mores of my environment I had to get away from their misplaced arrogance and condemning stares. I could have settled for everything. Marrying the right boy with the right credentials, doing charity work and fundraisers at the Met. But that predestined future seemed so suffocating it made me nauseous and I left with nothing but the clothes on my back. I haven’t seen my family in over eight years, although I call my mom each year on her birthday. I never meant to break her heart.