I finished a long day of teaching Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. I was tired and hungry but I still had work to do: I had to prepare to meet a colleague at 6:30 to discuss a panel on work and sex in Buffy the Vampire Slayer we're putting together for a Halloween horror conference. I sighed hard, sat down, and rolled my chair forward to my computer, rolling over and catching the hem of my skirt in the process. I disentangled myself, stood up to smooth my skirt, and noticed that my fingers came away from the back of it damp and tinged with red.
"Shit," I said aloud, though what was on my fingers wasn't shit; it was something else. I dragged my skirt forward and craned my neck back to inspect the damage and sure enough, smack-dab center on the back of my skirt, was a great big soggy blood stain.
I sat down for a moment, my face red as the back of my skirt, while I thought about the fact that the class I'd just finished contained a dozen freshmen boys and one freshman girl; if there was a group to whom I didn't care to announce my fertility, it was that one. "Let it go, Holly," I said, reminding myself that I'd been seated for most of the class, reading them instructions for a writing exercise, and that they never seemed to pay that much attention to me anyway.
Of course I keep appropriate supplies in my desk for just such emergencies, so I found what I needed and headed to the ladies' room. I addressed the problem, discovered that I'd acquired a second big stain in the moments I'd been seated at my desk, carefully swept up part of my skirt so the stains didn't show, and, carrying the extra fabric in my hand like a train I wanted to keep off the floor, took a deep breath and headed back to my office.
At this point I should mention that this was one of my favorite skirts, an ankle-length three-tiered skirt I had made myself. The background of the fabric is pale blue; the predominant pattern consists of blue and green paisleys coupled like yin/yang symbols; the whole thing is scattered with a small print of blue, green and rust-red roses. The skirt also has nice deep pockets concealed in the side seams. One reason I like making my own clothes is so I can put pockets in them--I hate the fact that women's clothing almost never has pockets. I don't like carrying a purse, and I don't like worrying about losing my keys. I like to put them in my pocket and leave them there, knowing they're safe.
Back at my office, I reached into a pocket for my keys, then reached into the other pocket. No keys. I tried the door, hoping either I or the gremlins had unlocked it; no such luck.
"Shit," I said again, and this time it was shit I was in--not deep shit, maybe, but shit nonetheless. A master key was kept in the main office as a remedy for precisely such situations, but as 5 p.m. had come and gone, the staff in the main office had gone as well. I went to find a colleague who was still in his/her office and could call campus security for me.
I tried Sweet Baby Jesus first, but ever-popular professor that he is, a string of students stood outside his door, and judging by the expressions on their faces, they were starting to get annoyed at the student who was sitting in his office and talking for so damn long. It wasn't a scene I wanted to interrupt, so I kept looking. Mercifully I soon found someone else willing to let me use his phone.
And that should have been the end of it; I should have called campus security and someone with a master key should have been dispatched to unlock my door. Unfortunately one of the campus cops had not come in to work that day and the other was not answering his pager--the poor receptionist absolutely could not reach him. Nor could she reach anyone in maintenance--the entire office seemed to be shut down, or maybe they were all out attending to leaky ceilings or overflowing culverts, since all day we'd had torrential rain left over from one tropical storm or another.
To be continued.