Charlie’s house only had one bathroom. That was the one thing I'd most dreaded, coming here. I had become accustomed to having my own bathroom, and when Mom said I'd have to share a bathroom with Charlie, I, of course, promptly refused. I did not care if he was my Dad or not, I would not be sharing a bathroom with him. Mom and I argued about this for weeks. She'd try to talk me out of coming, then I'd say I'm coming anyway because I already decided to, then she'd say "well you'll have to share a bathroom with Charlie," then I'd say "ew gross I'm not coming," then she'd say "but you already decided to, and it's not that bad sharing a bathroom..." and so on. You've all seen this argument before.
It was out of exasperation that Mom called Aunt Phyllis and had her talk to me. Aunty Phyllis was someone who I could always count on to put things in a way that I could understand. I remember her exact words to this day.
"No, Stella, my dear, sharing a bathroom with your father means you and him go pee at different times, but just use the same bathroom to do it."
See, why couldn't Mom just say that? Why'd she have to be so wishy-washy? But even still, having to wait for my turn in the bathroom was totally the most annoying thing that had happened to me so far in Spoons.
As I waited forEVER for Charlie to come out, listening to the occasional flush and trying not to create mental images, I sat at the edge of my bed, kicking my legs and being childishly impatient. My room was so dull. The colors were bland, the furniture was dated. There was a land-line phone. And it didn’t even work! Charlie could never figure out how to hook it up. The electrical outlet was still black and charred beside the phone cord he had tried to jam into it. My dusty stone-age desktop computer probably still worked though. Charlie had gotten it from Billy in a completely fair trade a long time ago, when Billy had cracked his head open on a rock during one of his fishing trips, and came to Charlie’s house, bleeding and desperate for some help. Charlie gave him a ride to the hospital and some ibuprofen, which Billy called “modern city magic beans” in exchange for Billy's computer and fishing rod. And of course the deal was only acceptable if Billy agreed to come over and plug in the computer in all the right places. He knew how to do it, because he'd spent many a year playing Tetris and watching the flying toasters on his "Great Flashing Spirit."
But still everything in my room was so nondescript, it was as if my entire life had yet to be categorized into its appropriate stereotype. I wondered what would become of me... would people in Spoons think I’m weird because I’m deathly pale even though I’m from Phoenix? Would I blend in with the rest of the white people? And I wasn't any good at sports. And I definitely wasn't good at making friends. I wasn't good at acting, boxing, charades, choir, debating, earth club, fencing, glee, 4H, juggling, karate, karaoke, mamba, newspapers, or anything really. It was almost as if I had been designed as a nondescript foil for God's romantic comedy. An empty vessel. Thinking "empty vessel" seemed to make me ashamed. Yet, even more important though, was other people's opinion of me. Would they think I’m pretty? In which case, would I become the popular pretty girl, or the quiet, unpopular pretty girl? Would I be smarter than everyone, or just more mature and well-read? So many things were as yet undecided. I got back to thinking about whether anyone would notice that I'm pretty.
“Stella?!?” I heard Charlie yell from the bathroom. “Do you know how to use a plumber?”
I was not only confused, but very annoyed. It was MYYYY turn. “What do you mean?” I yelled back.
“You know, the stick things with the suckers at the end, to get things out of the toilet that are stuck?”
“Those are plungers, dad.”
“Well do you know how to use them? Just come in here, Stella. I need help.”
I held my breath and cautiously opened the bathroom door. I couldn’t stay mad at him, he was way too adorable. He appeared to be trying to pull his foot out of the toilet. “See? It’s stuck, I can’t... get it... out.....” and he yanked and pulled and flushed with all his might as he spoke.
“The plunger won’t help that, sorry. Just keep pulling, you’ll get it sooner or later.” I patted him affectionately on the shoulder and went about my business, brushing my teeth, washing my face, brushing my hair, practicing smiling at myself in the mirror, figuring out which side of my face looked prettier so that I could try to pass people on that side tomorrow at school. I really needed to pee, but it didn’t look like Charlie was making any progress.
I was blowing kisses to myself in the mirror, as I'm sure you've all done too, right before a stressful and possibly embarrassing event. Just to make sure you look cute, even though you already know deep down that you do. It just helps. Just then, Charlie started to yell for help out the bathroom window.
"911!" he exclaimed, "911! Billy! Billy! My foot's stuck in the toilet! Billy, I tried to call 911 and they can't hear me! Stella!"
I was standing beside him, looking over his shoulder, out the window as he called my name outside.
I silently made my way to my room doing my best to distract myself from Charlie's urgent pleas.
"Stella! If you're outside, go get Billy and tell him to call 911! My foot's..."
I lay in bed waiting to fall asleep, trying not to think of the horrors I would endure the next morning. I needed a plan... Surly was a good plan. But what if it didn’t work? What if people really wanted to talk to me and I had to be friendly? Would it be disastrous to try to hang out with the popular kids? Should I flock to the nerds, just in case? Would I be too smart for them, thus making them feel inadequate, and resulting in my exclusion even from THAT group? Should I pack a lunch in the morning, or risk eating the school lunch just to look cool? It was all so confusing and stressful. I just hoped, that at the very least, I wouldn’t accidentally fall in love with the one boy that all the girls in the school have a crush on but can’t have because he doesn’t like them. Boys are so lame, and sexual tension is very embarrassing, because I’ve already decided that sex is not for me, at least not until I’m married or somehow otherwise eternally bound to him. That much I knew.