This morning the universe very kindly presented me with inspiration courtesy of plagiarism and bathroom wisdom. It makes me wonder what, if anything, these two subjects might have in common but who knows—there may be a lesson lurking in here somewhere and with any luck I’ll find it. A day without a lesson is a day without sustenance. Food. Coffee. Sunshine. That sort of thing. Wine. But those days are over. Who knows—maybe it’s about the seat that’s up. All I know is that I didn’t do it.
The first bit of inspiration came from a blogger who wrote about her concern over the plagiarizing of blogs. I’m too new at this point to even think of worrying or caring about that yet, so I won’t.
The second was an email from my friend Ginny Daly who sent me a copy of a lovely meditation by Richard Rohr.
“ I noticed today’s meditation has a similar version of my “like likes like.” And to think here I thought I’d made that up years ago as it applies to an advertising concept I was teaching at the time. How silly of me!”
It reminded me of a similar experience of my own.
I thought I made up a couple of things too, like “rom com” and “mani pedi”. Okay, I admit that mani pedi might have been around before I thought of it, but who knows? But rom com? When I first spoke those words to a very hip and knowing friend, her response was, “What’s a rom com?” Romantic comedy, silly. What else? Whether or not I actually made those abbreviations up in my head, or whether I plucked them right out of the universal pool of clever tidbits to be snatched is a question that will never be answered.
When I worked in a law firm with five floors each with a restroom, and each restroom with four stalls, I’d often find myself in desperate need of a bathroom while on the fly. I’d make a frantic dash into the nearest one of twenty stalls in such a hurry that sometimes I didn’t take the time to check out the condition of the seat.
I quickly learned that there are two sorts of women in the world—the sitters and the squatters. I’m a sitter. It’s those squatters that get me every time because their total lack of bathroom decorum manifests in a soaking wet seat as a gift for the next poor sucker with a frantic need for blessed relief. No wonder the squatters squat. They don’t want to become the victim of the last squatter’s gift. Heaven forbid.
Please don’t get me wrong, squatters. I’m sure that that there are the sweeties among you who clean up after yourselves in consideration of the person who follows you
But for those who don’t, I have a few words for you. Be considerate. Clean up after yourself. If not, be prepared to be faced with the possibility of some sort of nasty karma that may rise up and bite you in the butt.
By the way—apologies to those among you who are old-school ladies who think that butt is a dirty word—or at least an unladylike one. But it’s only an informal abbreviation of a legitimate word, right? Forrest Gump said it after all—except when he said it, it came out butt-tocks. Rom com. Mani pedi. Butt—not a big whoop, right?
Well so anyway, why don’t I wipe the seat, you may wonder? Duh. I don’t have time. I’m too busy trying not to wet my own self! When I have time, of course I check. When not, oh well . . .
In a fit of fury after one such encounter with a soggy seat, I stormed back to my office and flying fingers typed the words that fell out of my head.
If you sprinkle when you tinkle,
Please be a sweetie and wipe the seatie.
Okay, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I I made that one up. I taped a copy to the inside of the door in every restroom—all twenty stalls.
Twenty years later, I sat myself down on a seatie in someone’s home and—voila—I found myself staring eyeball to wall at one of those wood-carved plaques—you know—the kind you would find in a road-side souvenir shop that advertises the name of the town on everything that isn’t nailed down? There it was. A jagged-edged dark brown wooden plaque hanging on the wall in right front of me with the exact words I had written so long ago. Probably plucked right off of a shelf in some gift shop in God Only Knows What Town, USA.
Imagine my surprise ten years later when I wandered into the restroom of an elegant consignment shop and discovered a variation of the original hanging in all its glory before my very eyes. Yep—there it again—framed, hand-lettered, décor matched, and misquoted. It makes me wonder how many other versions and variations there may be somewhere out there in the world hanging around making money without meCome on! I mean, if you must plagiarize the plagiarizer, the least you can do is get it right, right? On the other hand, perhaps it was an intentional act on the part of the perpetrator designed to appear as if it might be an original thought. Hmmm . . .
Well now, as you might imagine, the discovery of these unexpected sightings conjured up some interesting and somewhat disturbing mind meanderings. Darn! Someone stole my stuff and claimed it as her own (it has to be a her, right?) Darn! Someone is cashing in on my creativity. Darn! Why didn’t I think of that? Darn! How dare she? Darn! I’d like to have a word with the sneaky little shedevil—if only I knew who she was. Darn! I wonder how much money she made that I didn’t?
Let that be a lesson to me.
Wait. What’s the lesson?
I don’t know, but I’m sure that there must be one in there somewhere. There always is. Maybe it has to do with not getting too attached to what I think is mine. Letting go. Finding humor. Forgiveness—not just for the perpetrator, but for myself for whatever I think I did or didn’t do that I should or shouldn’t have. I think I’ll just think about for a while and maybe I’ll get it figured out before I croak. On the other hand, maybe by then, it won’t even matter.
Hmm. That last thought makes me wonder. What does really matter?