For some weird reason, whenever Alma and I were together in a mall, my train would start moving. You know, the exit doors would open instantly. A call from the oval office. Everything inside get ready to go outside. Let me spell it out for you: bowel movement.

So when Robinsons Manila opened its Padre Faura wing, it was no surprise that when we entered the building, nature called. Perfect, I say to myself, they have a newly opened ladies’ room.

And so we went. If you haven’t been there, you should know that to get to the restrooms on the second floor, you have to pass through this loooong hallway. This hallway bounces all the sound you make: the squeak of your shoes or the clickity-clack of your heels. Or the simple chatter between friends.

I don’t remember what I ate that day from the cafeteria, (quick background: I am pretty sure this cafeteria gave me my gastrointestinal problems), but I knew it wasn’t good for what was about to come out was loaded and liquidy. You know those number two’s that hardly wait for you to squat before it begins to go out. Well… this was one of those.

So there they were. Out of my body but not in the bowl. Fourteen-year old and immature me “flushed” and went out.

I tried to wipe the guilty look off my face but nope, the janitress was on to me. I tried to wash my hands as quickly as I could and speed-walked my way out of the door into that long hallway I was telling you about.

I urged Alma, who was waiting by the door, to hasten her steps. She was confused and her face was a huge, “What’s up?” I tried to trot but boy, that hallway was long!

“Uy, miss!”

*trotting speeds up*

“UY, MISS!”

*ignorance is bliss. ignorance is bliss.*

“UY, MISS! YUNG TAE MO!”

*She did not!*

“MISSSSS! OO, IKAW, MISS! YUNG TAE MO!”

Remember those sound-bouncing walls? Yep. And almost at the end of the line, too where the number of bystanders who could hear her yelling have doubled to approximately 10 people.

So I froze and bravely faced her. I was, after all, in my uniform and would’ve wrongly represented my alma mater.

“Sorry, ate. Ano po ‘yon?”

“Linisin mo yung tae mo.”

And linis I did. Shamefully. Enduringly.

Something happened in a mall that day. It was more than an embarrassing story to tell. What really happened was I learned to own up to my wrongdoings: a tough and crappy thing to do. But you gotta do it.

Growing up happens when we choose to let it.

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