Kiki departed yesterday for a 12-day trip to Europe, where she’ll visit Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris. This will be her first time abroad, and understandably, she’s a smidge anxious. So, to bid her a fond and comforting farewell, rozlouceni, abschied, afschied and, of course, adieu, I met her for an all-American dinner the other night at our favorite Upper West Side diner, Viand.
After we reviewed the wearable items Kiki had packed, the stomach woe remedies she’d carry with her on the plane, the movies she’d downloaded to her iPod, and whether or not we had time to pop into Loehmann’s, I decided to visit the ladies’ room (which, at Viand, is actually a tiny, unisex and Lysol-fragranced recess in the wall with a door).
Having good hygiene, I like to wash my hands post-pee even though I am not required by law to do so. I just think it’s a nice gesture. Plus, who knows what kind of porcelain-borne illness might be lurking on the toilette seat? But I digress. Suffice it to say, it came time to dry my cleansed hands and I attempted to cue the sensor-activated paper towel dispenser.
But apparently, I have defective hands that are unable to emit the “cough up paper towel NOW” signal. For a minute, I stood there waving normally at the wall.
Hi Paper Towel Dispenser. Aloha! That’s right. I’m saying hi in the hopes you’ll dispense some paper towels. It’s great to see ya! Hello! Hiya! Hola! Bonjer! Top of the morning! Please give me some paper towels.
Zilch. Perhaps I needed to infuse the wave with a dash of more Queen Elizabeth?
I moved on to a sort of wax-on/wax-off gesture. Still nothing.
I changed direction – surely if none of the obvious horizontal techniques above had worked, the implementation of up/down movement would. Alas, it did not.
Next up was a hand-jive, followed by half of the ΑΕ∏ secret handshake, a sign language Q, a left-hand turn signal, the first step in a game of Cat’s Cradle and finally, the thumb-centric dance Elaine made famous on “Seinfeld.”
M’ER F’ER! How could I not triumph over this commonplace BATHROOM installation?
All the while, my cell phone had been in my pocket. I felt it vibrate: Kiki, concerned over my extended trip to the loo, had sent me a text message to inquire about my well-being.
With now damp fingers, I typed back: Handswe 3tca ntget ptwl out.
I couldn’t take it anymore.
F.U., fancy paper towel dispenser. I rescind my earlier greetings. You stink.
I gave up — I THREW IN THE TOWEL. I wiped my hands on my jeans and, using my sleeve for protection, opened the door. It was at that moment, of course, when I espied a hefty stack of pristine paper towels in a lovely woven basket atop the toilet tank.