Wednesday, May 19, 2010

There’s a skill to changing your clothes in a bathroom stall

I bet you're thinking Ethanael, it's not that difficult. Because I know most humans think in italics. True. Also true that a lot of humans have the ability change their clothes in a bathroom stall. You may even be one of them.

But can you change you clothes while regaling an audience on the other side of the stall door with an epic of story of how you pwned Lovecraft at the "Carry On My Wayward Son" guitar solo?

No? Didn't think so.

"Um, Ethan?" Maria sounds less than regaled. "Don't you think someone's going to wonder why you're in the girl's bathroom?"

Huh. I did wonder what she was doing in the men's room. And why it was so pink. Briefly. Then I just assumed we're in that part of Vancouver. You know. The area where men enjoy pink bathrooms. Because they're gay. The men. Not the bathroom. Toilets don't have a sexual preference.

"Yes," I tell her. "But that's irrelevant to HP's inability to master the orange key. The orange key is important, Maria. You can tell if someone's more than human by their mastery of it."

You're wondering why Maria and I are in the girl's bathroom together. You thought we'd gone with Neal to find Dante and Avalon. You're also wondering why I'm now spelling it N-E-A-L when I was spelling it N-E-I-L-L before.

I'm passively-aggressively spelling his name incorrectly in various ways to minimize the possibility of him finding this before our little adventure is finished. I'd rather he couldn't prove I know what I know about Maria. He knows I know, of course, but he needs proof to act on it. Like in writing. On a blog.

Maria and I are in the bathroom because we're changing our clothes. Implied by the mention of my clothes changing skillz. Neal sent us to the mall to acquire some garments that would raise our incognito stats. All Maria needed was something a little less destruction chic. I needed to cover up. Problematic because a lack of weather generally means a lot of covering-upage is unnecessary. Even if Dante could have offered me his parka, it would have drawn the guardians' attention like a magnet.

Options for my blending in are a hoodie with the hood up or an over-sized comical hat. I wanted to get a hat. Neal told me no. So I got a hoodie. It's yellow. And pink. And teal. An inconsiderate mob of color. There's a very small but probable chance the combination will induce seizures. Not so much incognito as just neato. Got because Maria dared me to. Maybe that she'll be humiliated long before I am.

She wears jeans. In grey boots. Yellow shirt. No patterns. Good. We don't want to clash. Like cymbals. Very disruptive.

"That is one ugly hoodie, Ethan." Her face is doing that smile people do when they're secretly happy but are trying to make you think they disapprove. "It's so bad it's good again."

"I tend to have that effect," I tell her.

We're supposed to go wait for Neal outside the mall. Blend in. Be neato incognito. Or at least try to keep from being hauled out of the city by the guardians. Or thrown in a dungeon and forced to battle our way to freedom. Or whatever it is they do to unwanted visitors. I'm not really sure.

Shocking. I know. Can't say I've ever really wanted to find out. Professional curiosity only goes so far. Unlike Valor powers, I have a healthy sense of self-preservation.

Maria and I leave the bathroom. All casual like it's normal. We head for the exit. Not too fast. Just walk with a purpose. Silence mixes with song. Getting hard to tell which silence is whose. Dante. Avalon. Neal. The guardians. Too much silence. Shouldn't be so much in one place. Draws attention. The wrong kind.

A jangle of distorted Beauty catches me. Maria's got her arm threaded through mine. Three layers of fabric and the contact still stings. I must wince.

"What?" She looks at me. Really means the question. "I'm just keeping you from wandering off or walking into a bench or something. Don't go getting the wrong idea."

No such things. Ideas are ideas. People make them wrong or right.

I shrug. It's a good enough response.

"Do you think they're ok?" she asks, her voice low.

"Hope so."

"Me too."

Take a moment. Appreciate the two of us. Arm in arm. We're practically friends. Got it? Good. Because it lasted about two seconds before the garbage can attacked.

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