I have had a great time reading at the University Club of St. Paul. My reading caused roaring laughter. Here is the story and you can laugh yourself. I will download the video to YouTube and share soon.
Can You Tighten My Bra
By Lisa Wharton 05/30/2014
I knew her through work like most new people I have met nowadays. We often ran into each other at the only bathroom in the garage. Yes. My office was built into the first floor garage of an air conditioning company where I worked as a consulting engineer. I often walked along dollies, big heavy machinery, and giant sweepers operated by men. Sometimes I passed by a group of workers standing in line to punch their time cards. Their often-leering stares sent shivers down my spine. I didn’t belong here and I knew it. But I tried. That’s why I started talking to our cleaning lady, Mona, in the bathroom or the hallway. She was a loud petit woman of 63 and loved to talk. Of course, I wasn’t sure I liked talking to her all the time.
“Hey, Lisa. Would you like to come to my house for a Jewelry party next Saturday? I live really close.” She asked earnestly, which was reflected by her huge eyes behind her glasses.
“I don’t have much time, especially on weekends. Sure. I will think about it.” I didn’t know how to just say no to my new friend.
She immediately offered me a postcard and a thick catalog that had Mary Kay in it. No, I didn’t want to have anything to do with Mary Kay. I heard myself shouting. Then, of course, if she had a pink Cadillac, then I might consider it. I wouldn’t mind knowing a good Mary Kay saleswoman. But I would never wear that kind of costume Jewelry. Who did she think I was, just an airheaded model?
She loved to look at herself in the mirror. She seemed to never have a good hair day. She had matted, straight, shoulder length hair, which reminded me of steel spikes pointing down. But she liked to comb it even though there was nothing really to be combed. She liked to adjust her glasses on her wrinkled skin. She said, “I’m tired a lot”. Even though I was so tired of hearing it, I did sympathize. After all, she walked the whole day throwing garbage around. She often cried about her twin sister who died of syphilis and her brother of diabetes.
One day she told me, “I’m going to a concert in two weeks and one day and 8 hours.” “Which concert and where?” I asked politely. “It’s at the Maplewood Community Center,” she said with the same enthusiasm. “Have you heard of Bret Michaels?” Her eyes suddenly all lit up. She said in such urgency as though if I didn’t know about him, she would slap me. “No. Who is he?” Of course, I had never heard of him, but I wanted to learn more. “He is a very sweet Rock & Roll guy. Oh, I can’t wait to see him. I’m in love with him.”
A couple of days later, I ran into Mona in the hallway. She stopped the big garbage can on wheels and tried to take a few pictures out of a sandwich bag. “See. This is HIM. Look, he gave me a hug. He kissed me, too.” “Nice. He looks very cute”, I said. “Yeah. He is so cute. I love him so much. I’m his groupie.” “Does your husband care?” I asked. “No. He knows that I’m in love with Bret. I go every concert he has in town. I wish that I could afford to go to some out of town ones. I love him so much.” She said with tears in her eyes. I didn’t exactly understand her love for this hippie singer. But her emotion moved me and I started to like her a little more until something else happened.
I ran into her in the bathroom one day. When I got out of my stall, I saw her looking at herself in the mirror as usual. She looked engrossed in private thoughts. In order not to disturb her, I picked up my teacup and tried to slip out of the door. Then I heard, “Hey, can you tighten my bra?” “What?” I couldn’t believe my ears. “I hurt my right arm yesterday and can’t lift it up. Can you help me?” She said sincerely. I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t really mind helping her. Yet from all the sexual harassment training I had at my previous jobs, I knew I shouldn’t do it. It could get me in trouble. What if she decided to sue me? But I couldn’t just refuse. She would be offended and then I still had to see her every day in the bathroom or in the hallway. It would be awkward. If I helped her, it would be awkward, too. So I decided to treat it with humor. “You have weird requests,” I said. “Besides, I also hurt my arm yesterday. You see.” I pretended having trouble lifting my arm. “You are out of luck. Maybe you can ask one of the guys to help you.” She laughed. “You, bad girl.” I smiled innocently and slipped out the door before she could react. During the rest of the day, we just said “Hello” to each other whenever we saw each other in the hallway or bathroom. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to laugh. It might have been a totally innocent request. I remembered once that she asked me to scratch her back. I actually helped her. She just simply didn’t know the current corporation sexual harassment policiess. She didn’t even know how to “work” the computer in her own words. So how could she get computer training about sexual harassment? I was desperate to share this incident with other people as kind of a bad joke. But I knew if I did, people might misunderstand the situation and reach a different conclusion. They might even think we were lovers. Eventually I did tell it to the lady I often ran into in the changing room before and after running. She laughed, too.
Two days later, Mona came to my cubicle and said, “I’m so sorry to have asked you to, you know? My daughter told me to apologize to you.” She looked sincerely sorry. “No problem. Don’t worry about it”, I replied. “I just didn’t want to get into any trouble.”