It’s refreshing to know that I do things in the UK with the exact stupidity that I do them in NYC and the exact silliness that I’ve done them my whole life. Today I did one of those silly and stupid things (though it’s not like I stood in the left turn lane of a busy UK street - which is more like a right turn lane in the US - thinking I wouldn’t be honked at by cars or anything).
After a great session of helpful UK traveling tips, (Oysters may be my new favorite animal.) I had to use the loo. I spotted a sign for toilets and walked into the first one. No surprise, I used the bathroom and heard laughter outside. I dried my hands and left. As I left the stall, though, I noticed a strange trough-like steel structure. It was positioned against a wall and had water running down the back of it. “Strange. Must be a cool eco-friendly European relaxing waterfall thing. . . recycling water maybe? . . . Those Europeans, so green. . . ” I thought, and then I sauntered out the door.
Upon leaving, I discovered that the cool eco-friendly relaxing waterfall I found so inventive was a urinal. I had used the men’s restroom without knowing it. What made the faux pas better was the fact that an older male had walked up and attempted the loo (I’m trying to integrate British slang terms.) to enter while I was in the stall. My friends stopped him before he entered. His response, however, was not, “Pardon me,” waiting until I left to enter. Instead, he gave my friends an aghast “stank eye,” as one of them recounted to me, and stomped off after pronouncing, “Thar’s a woman in thar!?” (Readers: please picture the voice of Mad-Eye-Moody screaming, “It’s just pumpkin juice!” and then an American girl trying to imitate this voice when reading that. It makes it more entertaining, I promise.)
I guess the experience could have been worse. I could have had to walk over a mile carrying many pounds of books that I’m required to read. I could have had to walk the same distance again carrying a large box of drawers. I could have failed to understand a London bus map. I could have had my heart stolen over a toastie.
All of which happened today.
I’m not sure my heart can bear the strain of recalling how my heart was captured by the most adorable boy I’ve ever seen while I was enjoying a delightful UK version of grilled cheese with tomato. The group shot featured was just my excuse to get to speak to him. His British voiced reply to “Excuse me, will you take a picture of my friends and I,” was everything you could hope for and a little more. Alas, tomorrow is another day.
Tomorrow I will have my first venture to the Senate House Library, a journey that looms over me not only because it marks the beginning of another semester of camping in the stacks, but also because this building - which Orwell modeled the Ministry of Information after in 1984 and Hitler hoped to make his headquarters - is exceedingly intimidating. My venture here to get a library card, find the reservers, and conquer a foreign printer will be trying. Let’s face it, sometimes I can barely manage to used the domestic version of this small appliance.
There, however, is the opportunity for me to meet something of equal or better aesthetic value as the boy this evening. There’s a “social mixer” for the NYUL kids around the corner from our dorm in the evening. . . I’m sure there will be at least 2 more sufficiently awkward moments to recount. . .