A Cautionary Tale

I would like to share with all of you, what I think is a funny story, and what my wife assures me, was her most embarrassing moment.

As you all know, Belva, my wife, best friend, and the light of my life, and I own and operate a web site, Belva’s List; which is a recreation guide to Seattle, Puget Sound, and Western Washington. One thing we do is list all kinds of yearly events, car rallies, neighborhood extravaganzas, summer water events and festivals of every size and description. We attempt to attend as many of these events as we can.

We decided to attend Seattle’s Fremont Summer Solstice Parade a couple of years ago. What a blow out affair that was. The abundance of floats, performers, and attendees was truly overwhelming. All of the pageantry, both in the parade and on the sidelines, is what has made this parade world famous. And one of the highlights every year is the Nude bicyclists. Believe me when I say, the sight of—there must have been a hundred or more—people, wearing nothing but athletic shoes, a hat, sunglasses and a smile or a coat of paint—Don’t Look Alice!—stream by on bicycles, it stirs a crowd… Lots of “Ooh’s and Ahhs”.

Now, on to Belva’s moment… We had ridden the bus from Greenwood to Fremont. It’s impossible to find a parking place on Parade Day. And though the bus stop is some little way up the hill from the heart of the activity it’s a closer walk than any parking places you might find—if you can find one, chances of winning the lottery are more likely.

After the Parade and much viewing enjoyment, during which, we “porked-down” a bunch of junk food and beverages, we started back up the hill to our bus stop. Just as we were getting close to our destination, Belva began to have a moment of personal panic. She had to go! And there wasn’t any place to go! And a lot of hill left to climb, not to mention a twenty minute bus ride! All of the stores and restaurants were behind us a few blocks down the hill.

The further up the hill we walked the more concerned Belva became, scanning the buildings along the sidewalk, in search of a restaurant, she spied a brick building with a storefront type window. Passing the window, we noticed small groups of people sitting around various small tables, others on couches and easy chairs; beverages and snacks available at various stations through out the room. It shouted, “Neighborhood coffeehouse”, happy, friendly, cozy and full of people and a restroom.

A look of anticipated relief washed over Belva’s face, she had found this place just in the nick of time, for her moment of need was fast approaching the extreme panic stage. As we entered through the open front door, she spotted a slightly open bathroom door in the far corner, meaning the bathroom was not occupied. She left me to my own devices, as she, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, raced to the open bathroom door, nodding to folks as she passed, trying not to slam the door behind her, as she disappeared into the restroom.

A short time later, business done, she opened the bathroom door and reentered the room. Everyone stood up, and
wearing big smiles, began to clap, politely. Confused and thinking, maybe she should have bought something on the way in, Belva got into her purse and left a dollar on the table full of snacks, then joined me to continue our trip to the bus stop.

Just out side the front door, a smiling couple on the sidewalk, cups in hand, obviously customers of the establishment, informed us this was not a neighborhood coffee shop but their apartment. And they were hosting a group of friends celebrating the summer solstice. Everyone, including Belva had a good laugh.

Belva ruminated to me later, that thinking back after the fact, perhaps, the bathrobes hanging on wall hooks in the bathroom should have given her a clue. She later talked about the incident on her blog, making a public apology to the nice couple, for her little faux pax and her sincere thanks to them and their friends for being so gracious to a lady in distress. She assures me that this is one of those moments forever burned into her memory. She will also tell you, “Do not just head off mindlessly following a group of people whom you think know where they are going; if you do you too might find yourself out of the “comfort station zone.” A very good lesson to remember.



4 responses to “A Cautionary Tale

  1. raymondbolton

    This is one of those posts that just left me grinning. We’ve all been there. At moments like that, there is no right or wrong. Manners be damned—and I must say she comported herself as well as anyone could have under those circumstances—all there is to do is what must be done. In the words of the Bard, “All’s well that ends well.”

    Give my best to your lovely and happy solstice to you!

  2. Oh, gosh. Poor Belva! But it does sound like she handled it with aplomb.

    I grew up in a tiny township just off Interstate-5. We were the first house on the road, and there wasn’t a public bathroom fifteen miles either way. One day, a nice gentleman knocked on the door. He was holding an adorable little girl’s hand. He said they were visitors from Japan, on a tour bus headed for Oregon, and inquired very politely if they might please use the bathroom. My mother of course said yes, as she had a serious soft spot for kids, but he wasn’t just a nice daddy asking on his daughter’s behalf. He was the driver, and minutes later, there was a queue of two dozen people stretching down our hall, through our livingroom and out the front door, waiting to use our single bathroom.

    Most of them didn’t speak much English, but my mother recieved a very courteous and grateful bow from every single one of them on the way back out to the bus. 🙂


  3. When you gotta go, you should be able to. Belva’s a good sport and so were the people who, in a way, rescued her. But I’ve found most folks around Fremont are friendly and more laid back than the rest of Seattle.

  4. Priceless! Yes, the bathrobes would have been a giveaway, but I’m sure Belva didn’t care at that point!

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