Last night I arrived at work, and not five minutes later was passing through the hallways where the restrooms are located when a mysteriously damp man flung himself into my arms, laid his head on my breast, and sobbed "where is the--I'm sorry, I just--I HAVE TO PEEEE!" I immediately spun him around to face the mens' room door and gave him little push, because whatever the hell was going on DUDE HAD TO PEE, and continued about my business after locking eyes with a maintenance worker who'd seen the whole thing and shaking my head. Strange stuff happens all the time. Especially around the holidays.
A co-worker, a sweet young kid who is still in the "figuring out life" stage of things, organized a festive holiday meal for all of us who were stuck working Christmas Day. It was amazing food, and something the co-worker in question absolutely did not have to do, and I sat down with the ragtag bunch of misfits I work with (because honestly, almost everyone in the service industry is there because something in their life has gone sideways at some point--we were our very own Island of Misfit Toys last night), a group of people I have nothing in common with, and ate Christmas Dinner.
My encounter with Bathroom Guy bothered me afterward. See, there was something off about the way he spoke, and obviously he wasn't socially appropriate. I was annoyed at having had a moist stranger enter my personal space, and without knowing for sure what his deal was, couldn't decide how I felt about it. If he was drunk then obviously I had every right to think ill of him, especially in light of his familiarity with my bosom, the letch! If he wasn't drunk, though, he could have suffered from an intellectual disability of some kind that affected his speech and comportment, and I was an asshole for being annoyed with him because he couldn't help himself. If it was the latter, he really shouldn't have been out in public without a caregiver, but then there are such things as compassion fatigue and possibly the parent of an adult child with cognitive/mental issues just really fucking wanted to sit down on Christmas Day and have themselves a drink, in which case who was I to judge?
At the holiday meal I shared with co-workers, I mentioned Bathroom Guy and immediately the bartender laughed and said "oh, y'mean the one wearing _____? I had to cut him off, that guy was a mess. He and his lover had a big 'ol fight and the other guy is PISSED and finally drug him off to bed. I think they're going to break up." I paused and chewed a mouthful of prime rib thoughtfully. Bathroom Guy was free of mental disability, and I could therefore be annoyed with him in good conscience. However, Bathroom Guy wasn't heterosexual,* which meant the whole laying-his-head-on-my-breast thing wasn't pervy of him, so I wasn't AS annoyed as I might've been if a drunken straight man had done the same thing. In light of his sexuality this was more child-like than anything else, and that was kind of touching. Someone at the table asked what I was thinking about and I told them, and they all agreed that it was complicated, and that only I would put this much thought into a collision with a drunken stranger (which is fair enough). And everyone had a laugh at my expense, and I looked around me and was simultaneously nostalgic for and glad to have walked away from my own extended family more than fifteen years ago.
I don't talk about them on here, my extended family that I have nothing to do with, because they're not a part of my life. They're a small-minded and intolerant lot who drew a "come to Jesus or don't come to Thanksgiving, and certainly not with a female date" line in the sand with me back in college, and aside from a brief reunion with them during my marriage to the XY (they were willing to accept me as long as I was living the heteronormative American Dream) that ended when I decided his cheating on me while our baby was in the hospital meant I was was done with him (divorce? FOR SHAME, SINNER! was their reaction, regardless of why), I haven't wavered (ignore my children saying hello to you in the grocery store because you disapprove of my life choices? That is your third strike. YOU'RE OUT!). The holidays are traditionally the time to miss one's family, but these are people who consider me unworthy of basic human regard because I'm not a straight, godfearing doormat, and I can't make myself see anything OTHER than walking away from that as a healthy response to such judgmental hostility. Now that I am once again married to a man they might be willing to accept me, but I don't want that kind of superficial acceptance from judgmental assholes (if they knew that Hotter is not straight either, they'd probably retract their approval, and it's not like it would come up, but it's also not like that makes it any better).
The fact that sharing a holiday meal with a group of people I have nothing in common with even makes me THINK of family kind of lets you know what a skewed perception I have of the concept, I suppose. And yet there are those who judge me simply for not having an ongoing relationship with extended family, because surely the problem is me and not them. Someone without people must have been cast out, right? Because who would just walk away? Anything is better than being alone in the world! I don't really know that I can refute that statement. It's hard (I am no longer Alone In Life, obviously, as I have Hotter, but I've certainly been there). But it's a hard that I can live with, and all of the judgment and attacking of my choices and beliefs and sniping at me for sins of previous generations was not. So there's that.
As for Bathroom Guy, I've decided he was an interesting character, and that I bear him no ill will. Who knows what his story was. Maybe his own family is like the one I was born into, and he was spending a major holiday with someone he was about to break up with not because they meant so much to each other anymore, but because the fact that they ever had made him less in the eyes of the ones he'd otherwise be with on the occasion. Maybe the bartender misinterpreted things and he's a straight pervert who was also drunk. Either way, he was a mess and he had to pee, and he needed a push in the direction of the mens' room and I was in a position (literally! Ha!) to give him that much and so I did, because it was the right thing to do.
Sometimes life doesn't go as planned, and yet you still end up doing the same things, sitting around a holiday table where you have some tenuous sense of belonging and the others present know you well enough to laugh at you. Sometimes you need a push into the bathroom. And in the end, as long as you still end up not-alone and not pissing yourself, I guess it's all good. So here's to the lone wolves, the misfits, the drunks in public who have to pee, all of us who don't quite fit in! We're still in this together. Happy holidays. May you always run into those who are willing, even begrudgingly, to push you in the right direction and may your hangovers be merciful.
* Yes, I know, I am assuming. He was in a relationship with another man that is apparently serious enough that they spent a major holiday together, which leads me to believe Bathroom Guy is gay, although certainly he could be bisexual and simply dating a man instead of a woman at this point in his life. But people assume things and I am no different.