Monday, May 29, 2017

Bathroom Stand Off


So, I'm at my college reunion, my class congregating in the magnificent courtyard you see above. Wonderful time, and we even managed to steer clear of politics, for the most part. Even when we did get into it, it was friendly and respectful, as it was when we were undergrads. These are people I am bonded with forever.

Saturday night, I excused myself from the bonhomie to visit the men's room. At this point, I need to explain that the common area restrooms are down below and shared with the next college over (we call dorms "colleges"). That was where the Class of '02 was headquartered, and their rap music competed down there with our Stones and Steely Dan. Did I mention we had better music? Anyway, as I exited, a woman of '02 was exiting the ladies room a few feet away. We both entered narrow hall, and as we approached a common door, I stepped aside and said, "after you."

She stopped dead in her tracks. "Patriarchy!" she said.

Huh? I said I merely thought I was being polite, not patriarchal. She wasn't buying, and it seemed we were at an impasse, with neither of us willing to walk through the door. We debated the point. Welcome to today's Ivy League.

A fellow from the '02 class thought this was all very funny and started filming with his phone. Perhaps it's posted somewhere in the social ether. I'd say this went on for about two or three minutes until the woman's need for another drink won out over doorway politics.

I declared victory for the Class of '82, and the way things were, as I followed her out.

12 comments:

  1. You are a little tall to be a "troll"; (just sayin'...)

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  2. I accept that yesterday's polite can be today's sexist or even patriarchy, but yielding ones claim to first mover status is hardly patriarchal. Perhaps '02 was a bad year for Yale vocabulary education..

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  3. I'm wondering.

    Why didn't you go first (once she said "patriarchy")? You had, after all, been released from your etiquette.

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    1. Perhaps I should have asked her if she identified male, and then relented.

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  4. I'm wondering the same thing as Artie. Though I can't say I mind the good manners generally found in the Men of '82

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  5. If I might ask, what is your underlying emotion, Scott?

    Glad, mad, sad, afraid or disgusted?

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  6. Women still carry babies for 9 months, deliver them in agony, then nurse them. After that, the hard work begins. You can say "after you," to me anytime. I'll teach my son to do the same. Don't let this generational dustup change your good manners one speck.

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  7. The other day when I suggested to you amid a group of friends that "we're all in the same place now," you replied, ungraciously I would add, "no we're not." This column is but one example of what I'm talking about, but I could add the debt/deficit, congressional rigormortus, the institutional silencing of certain forms of dissenting opinion, the North Korea threat and conundrum, the divisive legacies of the Civil War, and so forth. In other words, we're all in this "place" now -- amid some challenging dysfunction and danger -- and we can either face it together or we can face it apart, as you suggest. You're smart guy, Scott, you choose. And by the way, your choice matters.

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    1. For the record, given the context of the conversation, I assumed you meant to imply that I had, of course, come around to the view that our new president was awful, and that, as reasonable people, we were on the same page about that. If you mean that we all find ourselves in the same boat right now, that is definitionally correct, but I suspect we would have very different views about who built this particular boat and who was responsible for its many leaks. Cheers. P.S. Not sure how this particular column relates to any of it...it was straitforward reporting.

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  8. I enjoyed the column. And agree with it. I have a son who's a junior at Middlebury, once a self-professed progressive, who has been pushed so hard because he's white, privileged, a student athlete, and has 20th century manners that he's moved to the more conservative camp. His stories and observations about life and learning on a private college campus today are riveting and troubling. As for my comment, I was referring to this moment in American history generally and Trump specifically. In other words, this isn't a pretty moment in our history and, as you say, has not been for some time, so we better sort it out. The Trump era, and Trump himself, however, are particularly ugly, dysfunctional and messy. I've felt for some time that democracy as we've come to make it is failing, for many reasons, and Trump's rise is particularly telling in that regard, and worrisome. I guess my guileless remark on the beach was just one lucky guy to another expressing a sentiment: "We're all in this together." Incidentally I am currently working on something with Mitt Romney's former campaign manager, Stuart Stevens, and, among other things, worked on the Fix the Debt campaign with Al Simpson and Erskine Bowles. So my political stripes are mixed. Not having your email... I went to the only sure way to reach you. I'm at biddleduke@gmail.com

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