My trousers fell to the floor with a heavy, metallic thunk. My husband, Brian, complains that while other women undress with a whisper of silk, I tend to clank and require the services of a squire to disrobe. He doesn’t mind, though, really; there’s a certain cachet to being married to an archaeologist that he likes to think rubs off on him. I pulled my shirt off over my head without unbuttoning it, balled it up, and threw it in the general direction of the corner where the rest of my clothing from the week had been piling up, forming my own laundry midden. One thick, overworked sock followed the shirt, and then was followed by its mate, but the second sock went awry and landed on my desk amid piles of notes and books, scattering about a dozen empty film canisters onto the floor. I stared at the new disruption tiredly, took another sip of my well-deserved beer, and decided to take my shower instead of picking up. No one would have been able to tell where the new mess began and the old one ended anyway.
In the bathroom I reached over and set my beer bottle on the cracked tile ledge of the shower and turned on the water, hot and full blast. The shelf was a precarious perch for the beer, already crowded with my soap and my shampoo, but it was worth the risk. The utter luxury of a cold beer going down my throat at the same time that steaming hot water poured over my body was not one to dismiss lightly. I could never decide which was more desirable, the beer or the shower, but the combination of the two was positively restorative. Life-giving.
Outside the shower, I got a start as I caught my reflection in the mirror and grinned: I was still wearing my baseball cap. I looked more closely at the lines that were developing around my eyes and mouth and decided that once again, the Red Sox had let me down. The crow’s-feet made me look a little older, which I suppose, horrid to say, lends a little more credibility to me as a scholar. I could be as much a feminist as I liked, but I still had to admit that my age and sex were working against me. Academia is still very much a man’s world.
Cynic, I chided myself. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You’re just tired, same as every other day—but there I stopped. Today was most certainly not like every other day.