Day 303: Umm, I’m in Here

I was 16 when I walked in on my friend’s mom stepping out of the shower. Like mine, his parents were teachers, so there was only one full bath for the family of four. Stridex wipes, wet friendship bracelets and dayglow scrunchies shared the vanity with mustache trimmers, wrinkle cream and empty boxes of Grecian Forumla. It was almost constantly in use. The busy schedules of the family caused them all to shower at random times throughout the day and night. I remember the mirror always being foggy, and the wood grained toilet seat perpetually damp.

So I have absolutely no excuse for walking into such a highly trafficked bathroom without knocking. I think we were in my friend’s bedroom recording an acoustic x-rated cover of “House of the Rising Sun” with lyrics that went,  “There is a twat in Santa Fe, they call the juicy one.” Don’t judge me. You were all 16 once, and when you were, you’d have thought it was just as hilarious as we did.

I remember being in a hurry. I had to pee, but there was only a certain amount of time before the dual cassette deck would eat one of the tapes while recording. I ran out of my friend’s room, down the short hallway and threw open the bathroom door.

There’s a very short period of time when someone is actually naked and visible  during their shower routine. Nearly all the full nudity is spent inside the shower. Had I walked in then, perhaps she wouldn’t have even noticed. The rest of the time is generally spent wrapped in a towel or two applying lotions in front of the mirror. Between those two states, there are a few seconds where the person is stepping out of the shower to grab a towel when they are completely naked and exposed. It was during just such a vulnerable moment that the door came crashing in.

The shower curtain was fully open. She had one leg in the shower and one leg out. She was in motion. Not only did I see everything, but I saw it in a compromised and slightly awkward state. She tried to cover herself with the shower curtain, but her weight was leaning in the opposite direction causing her to flail a little and then brace herself against the wall so as not to fall. Seeing a friend’s mother nude is harrowing, but seeing her nude and on the floor after a tumble, can be a real life changer.

Out of pure instinct, I looked her up and down before I gasped and slammed the door. I stood there, frozen and panicked, trying to understand the reality of what just transpired. Do I pretend as if nothing happened? Do I apologize? Am I supposed to address it at all? Do I just walk away from the door? She was the adult, but I was the transgressor.

An hour later my friend and I were downstairs in the living room listening to Aerosmith’s “Three Mile Smile.” Fitting, I know, but I can assure you it was a total coincidence. I had told him what happened, and he had yet to make eye contact with me. I’m not sure why, but it’s ruthlessly embarrassing when you’re 16 and someone sees your mom naked. We sat on separate sides of the room staring off into space, he playing air guitar and I nervously air drumming.

I could hear his Mom coming down the stairs. She stopped on the landing, looked at me, and said, “You need to start knocking before you barge into our bathroom.” She wasn’t mad, just firm, like a teacher reprimanding a student. I said I was sorry, and that was the end of it. Everything returned back to normal pretty quickly. Sure, the image would never leave my mind, but the weirdness had at least dissipated a bit.

Then about a week later I was sitting on the toilet in their downstairs bathroom which doubled as the laundry room. My friend’s sister, who was two years older than us, barged in with a hamper full of her laundry. She didn’t even see me. I sat on the toilet completely unable to move as I watched her sort her lights and darks. I knew as soon as she turned around to leave the  room, that I would be directly in her line of sight. There was no way she could miss me. I also couldn’t get up to sneak out lest she hear me, whip around, and catch me in the act of pulling up my pants. It took me a minute but I finally realized I had only one option.

I cleared my throat and meekly uttered the words, “Umm, I’m in here.” she shrieked and turned  to take in the full view of her little brother’s friend taking a shit. I’ve had it both ways, and I’ll tell you that it’s far worse to be walked in on while crapping in someone else’s house than in your own. What made this situation even more unpleasant was that I had to tell her I was there. It wasn’t like she’d opened the door, said, “Oops” and closed it immediately. No, she walked in and started doing her laundry. I was left trying to figure out how to disappear or evaporate.

Later that evening, as I was having dinner with the family in relative silence my friend’s mom broke the tension and said,

“So, I hear we got even this afternoon.”

“Yea, I suppose we’re even now.” I said. Everyone fell silent again and gazed blankly into their salads.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

12 comments On Day 303: Umm, I’m in Here

  • Do people not have locks on bathroom doors? How is this even possible? The laundry room I guess is different, but seriously. Who are these people?

    • I feel like that was oddly common in the 80's. I bet the Keaton family didn't have bathroom door locks

      • I second this, we had no lock on our bathroom door. As far as I know, no non-family members ever walked in on anyone. My parents had NO boundaries, though, so they'd walk in even if they knew perfectly well that someone was in there. I've been lurking for a while and finally decided to chime in. Love the blog and the comments are always hillarious, too.

  • Your friend's mom sounds like she has an awesome sense of humor.

  • My high school bf refused to come back to my house after having two experiences of seeing my family members naked.

    First there was the same, mom coming out of the shower and he barged in without knocking (pretty much the same experience you had!).

    Then there was the time my sister was in her room and started screaming at the top of her lungs. My bf and I ran into her room, him first, barging in, thinking she was hurt or worse! Sure enough a SPIDER had fallen from the ceiling onto her as she was getting dressed for bed, at the moment she was completely starkers. She was screaming, flailing her arms and shaking her head to be rid of the spider when we found her. Poor guy! After that, he pretty much stayed in the living room and kitchen and if he needed the washroom, I had to go make sure the coast was clear first.

    • He's probably really weird now. Seeing a woman naked and afraid at that age probably sends a fella down a dark path

      • How did you know he's really weird now? I guess seeing all the female members of your gf's family naked could do that to a guy. I just had to warn my now husband that my mom and sister have a history of exposing themselves to the guys I bring home.

  • This was just beautiful. Thanks for the laugh(s).

  • I walked in on my older brother getting out of the shower in the same pose you describe. First guy I ever saw naked. I was about 5 and he was 19. He yelled and I ran, horrified. We never spoke about that moment and I don't think we ever will. I think he's probably forgotten. I wish I could.

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