Our first night out after the accident was to the theatre. Classy stuff. We had dinner with friends beforehand, had a drink each, laughed a lot about … well, who knows what people talk about over dinner. It’s often very strange stuff, like whether that dress you’re wearing is similar to one I have or if it’s actually my dress that you borrowed two years ago and never gave back; or if that man over there who looks a lot like someone we know is actually our friend and the person sitting here at the table with us is an imposting doppelganger. And whether imposting is a word. And if it is customary to wear marzipan eyebrows at the cutting of your wedding cake. Or someone else’s wedding cake. Stuff like that. That’s the stuff we talk about over dinner.
One of the realities of having a spinal cord injury is that sometimes, if Brad is somewhere that doesn’t have a properly accessible toilet, then he needs a bit of assistance in the bathroom. It’s no big deal, really. At least, not to me. But he isn’t exactly a fan. He told me once that he used to be so well toilet-trained – he was so good at going to the bathroom – that he didn’t even think about it. So I can understand how it’s a bit of a downer to suddenly find he needs someone to help him not fall off. And I can understand why it sometimes makes him a bit grumpy to listen to me chattering away happily while he’s somewhat humiliated and wishing that I would just leave the room.
Privacy, Gen. It’s a thing we used to have in our lives.
Not anymore, Brad. I’m here for you. You’re welcome.
So what I’m getting at is that before the show, I had to assist Brad in the bathroom. We were in a pretty hilarious mood. And that’s lucky, because what happened next could only happen in a comedy movie. In fact, it often does happen in comedy movies and I hate it. I hate toilet humour. I’d like you to know that. I have nightmares about that kind of thing. Any bathroom scene is bound to be horrible and I don’t want to see it. But I digress.
As I helped Brad onto the seat and then waited to help him back into his wheelchair, he told me about a nurse at the hospital who scrunched the toilet paper instead of folding it, and we were both horrified that this is actually a thing people do, and we lost all respect for her immediately. We can’t be friends. Sorry. It’s over. We wondered how many other people do this, but we didn’t want to ask because that’s rude and also because I don’t think I want people to tell me too much about themselves. Privacy, people. It’s a thing we need to have in our lives. Also, let’s not talk about anything to do with the bathroom. I don’t want to have nightmares.
When Brad was safely back in his chair, I realised that I quite desperately needed to pee, and it just so happened that there was an available facility right there in the room.
“That’s disgusting,” Brad told me. “I can’t believe you’d do that while I am right here. What about my privacy?”
Then Brad accidentally bumped the green button that opens the door. And it happened.
The door opened.
And there was a man in a suit, clearly also going to the theatre, standing in the doorway. Right where he could see me. It was the most humiliating thing in the world. I screamed. I told Brad, very cleverly, “The door isn’t even closed!” And then I went to hit the button beside me on the wall. But Brad panicked and he hit his button too. And basically we both kept pressing buttons and the door started closing, and then opening again – and this went on for-fucking-ever!
Brad started laughing gleefully and I grumpily asked him what he was so happy about, and he said “Now we’re almost even. You just need people to see you in the bathroom about a million more times. Then we’ll be even.”
I’m not sure I want to be even, Brad.
But at least Brad is no longer embarrassed about asking me for help so I think we both win. Although it’s possible we both lose. Semantics, hey?