Always Try To Make A Good First Impressionism

I met someone last week who reminded me so much of someone.


She reminded me of me.

She didn’t look like me. We definitely had wildly different styles. She didn’t sound like me. I have no idea what kind of music she likes or if she is generally happy or how she votes. But she was still me.

My younger son, Joey, and I met my mom and my little sister in downtown Cincinnati to see an immersive Van Gogh experience.

You guys, I could tell you so much about this exhibit. If you have access to this, fucking go see it. We loved it. Goddamn amazing, trippy, and informative. But I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about the woman we met in the bathroom just before we toured the Van Gogh experience.

Baby sister and I were waiting for mom to finish up in the bathroom. We used our time well.

Baby sister: I think I”m taller than you now.


BS: I am. I’m taller.

Me: We’re old and probably both shrinking, but I’m still taller than you. I mean, I know you wish that weren’t true, but I’m taller than you.

Important to note: I am 5′ 1′. Baby sister is 5′ even. We are both basically hobbits. Which is fair because we are both weirdly hirsute. 

A woman steps out of a stall and says “Stand back to back.”

So, we did.

Strange woman who we did not know: Yeah, she’s taller.

She was referring to me. Because I’m taller. I’m like a giant. In the shire.

Me: Told you.

Our mom comes out to wash her hands. Martha is the sweetest person on the planet.

Me: Our poor mother has been listening to this for decades.

Martha: I don’t mind. I love them.

So, the woman, who settled the issue of whether or not I am taller than my sister, left the bathroom.

And then she immediately came back in.

Stranger: Look at this! I just carried this roll of toilet paper out.

Me: You are a thief. You should be in our tribe.

Stranger: Do you golf?

Me: what?

Martha: I golf.

Stranger: Once, I walked to my car and realized I still had the pin from the last hole in my hand.

I assume this is a very funny golfer joke because it made my mom laugh really hard.

The woman wore a lovely summer dress and smart shoes. Her hair was just so. We may have been the same age, but if you went by handbags and haircuts? She did a little better in life. But my hair is pretty amazing in it’s purple hue, so…

I had no idea that after we completed our tour of the Van Gogh immersive experience, we would meet up and again. And that I would realize that we might be the same person.

My mom, sister, Joey and I stopped just shy of the gift shop to discuss what we had just experienced when this happened.

Strange woman: Oh, hey! These are my new friends I made in the bathroom.

Then, she tripped over her own feet and stumbled into me. I didn’t fall, but it was a pretty substantial hit.

Me, waving to her friends: Hi! She tried to steal toilet paper and just now tried to tackle me.

Strange woman’s friends: …


The strange woman and I shared a brief hug. Her friends may not always get who she is, but I understood her.

They all waved and walked away. Her friends looked back at me as if to say “OMG THERE ARE MORE OF YOU?????”

Of course there are. There are a lot of strangely awkward old women who have pointless arguments in public bathrooms. We say and do nonsensical things. We also trip and fall a lot. These are the people I recognize. These are the people I understand.

I mean, I at least understood the clumsy part.

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  • And she was at the Van Gogh exhibit! The intersections between the two of you are staggering, which must be why you staggered into each other, I can’t wait for the sequel in which you run into her again because it seems certain you will.
    Also I’ve played golf. I’m not very good but I have enough experience to remember the “pin” is the flag they stick in the hole. Why they call it a “pin” and not a flag is beyond me. Anyway accidentally almost stealing the flag from a golf course also sounds like something you’d do. You should give golf a try. Maybe that’s where you’ll run into her—hopefully not with one of those carts, though.

    • My parents are both golfers so I have golfed. Way more times than I would have liked. I don’t like it. It’s boring. They gave up on me being a golfer by the time I was in my late teens.

  • I loved our immersive Van Gogh exhibit – took Z last fall, splurged on “immersive yoga” in the last weeks of its stay in Big D (now they switched it out for Monet, we’ll probably check that out too)
    I really wanted one of those silk scarves – they’re beautiful but I’m just not a “scarfy” person, so I settled on some postcards.

    • This is funny because I had to talk my sister out of buying the bucket hat. I knew she would never wear it and it was expensive so she got postcards and a magnet.

  • My highly educated art history SIL has been sending me bunches of paintings by various artists – Van Gogh being one of them. So I sent her your link to the exhibit – even though she lives in NY. I have a love/hate relationship with art in that I understand none of it unless it’s obvious. I have been reading the letters between Vincent and his brother Theo, and had discovered that mental health issues are probably inherited. They were both so young when they died. But Starry Night is, of course, my favorite of all – you get me every time with the color blue.

    I’ve met people (strangers) who instantly feel like we share an inside joke. Unfortunately, they aren’t actually in my life for more than a few minutes, and then I feel like I lost a friend.

  • She sounds like an amazing woman. AND I WANTED TO GO TO THAT. They had it up here, but it was too pandemicky. Hopefully it comes back. Van Gogh is part of the reason I went to the Netherlands (my husband thinks it was to visit his sister). We even got married in NYC because there was a Van Gogh exhibit when we went (he thinks it was to pick his sister up at the airport).

  • Thank God THERE ARE MORE OF YOU! Your humor and real life stories makes us all laugh, more often than not, in this nightmare we’re living in.

  • You never know when you will encounter a soulmate in the ladies’ room. I saw the Van Gogh immersive in Los Angeles. It was very cool, although we had to sit on the floor until a seat opened up which was hard on our old butts.

  • I love all of this so much. I’m afraid I’m also that old lady who talks to people in bathrooms and trips a lot. Also saw the Van Gogh experience (as well as the Monet immersive). Both are amazing and well worth a visit.

  • “Are there any more of you where you came from?”
    -Mary, my manager at the Buttercup after my friend Matt, who moved down to the East Bay from Eureka at the same time we did, got me hired there.
    I took it as a compliment.
    I read about the Van Gogh thing, I think they had it in Fresno, but we haven’t had a car since April…
    Oh shit, we have a car! From this century! It’s a Mazda and it’s kind of maroon. Or burgundy. Or some shit, but it runs and we know how to open the rear hatch now, and I totally recommend having one of your best friends in the whole world run a wrecking yard.

    • You have a car!!! Woo hoo!!! That is awesome. And the Van Gogh thing was amazing. My mother and I sat next to each other and she was enthralled. At one point she leaned over and said “Shell, I am SO tickled”. It was the sweetest thing ever.

  • My daughter and I went to the immersive Van Gogh. We loved it and I wrote a blog post about it. Then we saw the immersive Frida Kahlo. That was probably more heart wrenching than the Van Gogh…or Van Goff as the Brits like to say. I don’t know who’s next, but we’ll probably go to that as well.

    I discovered Ranch Water at the Kahlo exhibit. The museum charged us an arm and a leg for two cans of Ranch Water…which means they charged my daughter an arm and a leg…it was her treat. It was the first time I’d had one, and as the guy was describing it to me…he had me at TEQUILA. For the price we paid, they should have provided someone to follow us around carrying our drinks for us so we wouldn’t be inconveniences as we watched the show. Nope. They didn’t even provide one servan…I mean…one assistant. We didn’t even get a cup of ice to go with it! I didn’t even get a buzz. So I feel somewhat cheated by my first Ranch Water experience.

    Glad you’re literally running into your kind of people. The only people I remember from any bathroom (at a McDonald’s for heaven’s sake) were NOT my kind of people. But it made for a funny story….one which my daughter and her good friend will never let me forget! Trust me, I’ve tried.

    Thank you for this entertaining story…and re-reminding me of horrors I’m still trying to forget!

By Michelle


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