Irene Kim

I’ve always been a big fan of bathroom time. I’m not talking about squeezing the girlfriends into the handicapped stall because it’s been an hour and there are events to recap and people to wingman — not you, of course, not gonna happen tonight — and you all have to look in the mirror and be shocked that you look like Ronald McDonald after he got sweaty and rubbed his face a lot.

No. I mean the innocent bathroom time. The time when you’re sitting on the john and you can just feel the tiled walls wrapping their arms around you. You are safe here. Nothing can hurt you.

As a chronically constipated baby, I thrived in the bathroom. I could sit on the toilet downstairs with the door open and yell at my brother to bring me things. I could sit there and yell Disney songs. I could sit there and yell and pretend to still need to poop so my mom wouldn’t make me get off. It was a productive time in my life.

Bathtub time was extra thrilling. My brother and I stuck things up our noses and made our Playmobil people drown. It was a time to unwind, so much so that I sometimes confused the bathtub with the toilet. Very relaxing for me, not so much for the people screaming around me. But I was a baby, chill.

So you can imagine my surprise when, last Sunday — which was looking to be a very promising evening of not working in my apartment — I was imprisoned in my own safe space. I had just gotten back from a “workout,” the reason God made the elliptical, and I was feeling very virtuous and deserving of #metime. Plus I had bought biscotti to treatyoself and it was waiting to be torn apart in the kitchen.

Eager to bathe in vanilla oatmeal keratin antitoxins, I momentarily forgot that I had broken the bathroom doorknob off on both sides the day before and left it on the floor outside because some things in life are unfixable. I kickboxed the door and it didn’t move. Fully aware of the gravity of the situation, I stepped into the shower and decided it would resolve itself as I showered.

I actually had been locked in a bathroom before. I was 3 years old and we’d moved to an unfamiliar land to get cultured in Western Europe. As mature ladies, my sister and I had visited the loo together and locked the door for privacy. But then it wouldn’t unlock. Finally we had a perfect excuse to self-explore for three hours. When the building superintendent came to drill a hole in the door and pull us out, I looked up from the toilet, naked, and said, “I not done yet.”

Getting out of the shower in my big-girl apartment that Daddy pays for, I thought, “Just sit here.” I need this. I need to be locked away with my thoughts and really tune in and listen to myself. When had I lost the ability to say, “Wait, world. I not done yet?”

In the poetic words of my yoga instructor: “Now get into the fetal position and hug yourself.” I did this until I couldn’t feel my arm. Then I looked around for a distraction. As a firm believer in bathroom reading, I was shocked and dismayed by our selection. “Kosher Porn,” written by Yalies and starring Yale boys, was not the detox I needed.

Then I remembered I was sort of supposed to be turning in an essay that night. And that I had a work shift in an hour. And what was I supposed to tell my bosses? I could use the Yale excuse, “I just got really busy,” but are you busy if you’re locked in a room? I felt pretty not-busy at that moment.

So now, I was out of the fetal position and kind of panicking. I looked around for ideas. My roommate’s boyfriend’s electric razor looked manly and useful. I tried to shave off a bit of the door, but turns out man tools aren’t as strong as they look. Next, my roommate’s makeup bag. I rubbed on some of her Elizabeth Arden moisturizer to lubricate the doorknob hole, kicked, and nothing happened. Aruba coconut oil my ass. Towel rack? Not a good spear. Toothbrush? Terrible doorknob substitute. Why didn’t we keep a tool kit in here?

Then I saw it: mint dental floss. The dark horse but so full of potential. I could rig something up with this. Yes. I had taken organic chemistry. I built a Rubik’s Cube once that didn’t fit together. I got this.

I tied a pretty bow around the door, which used up the entire box of floss and gave off a nice minty odor.

I was starting to sweat, defeating the entire purpose of being in there in the first place. I opened the window to let in some air and to make the door shrink because I knew science.

And that’s when I heard them: other people. Lots of them. Just out there, in the world. I put on my bathrobe. If you’re thinking Victoria’s Secret, no. We’re talking Brookstone, Sky Mall, given-up-on-love. I leaned my head out the window. And then I just kind of sat there, thinking about how I could see everyone and they couldn’t see me.

Twenty minutes went by and I couldn’t gin up the courage to prevail upon them to rescue me. I thought about jumping, but it was the second story, and then I’d be locked out and freezing in my bathrobe. But then I saw him, my knight in reflective neon: a Yale Security guard on his bike. I called out “Excuse me!” and he looked around. “Up here!” He was very unthrilled to see me.

After explaining the situation to him, he asked, “Do you have a phone?” No, no I did not. If I had a phone I would not have been in here for the past half hour. And then he called someone and yelled as loudly as the town crier announcing Harry and Meghan’s wedding, but without the scroll, that Daisy Massey was stuck in her bathroom in Apartment 204. At this point some people were looking, so I smiled and gave them the royal wave.

He told me he had to leave but that someone was coming, and it might be a while. I thanked him profusely until he felt uncomfortable, and I then went back to kicking the door.

Half an hour went by. And then I heard the door to my apartment open. And then voices. And then they put the doorknob in the door from the outside, and opened, and … they were really hot. Two New Haven policemen, being gentlemen and holding in a laugh. I told them that I didn’t usually do this and that I was really sorry to waste their time and that I couldn’t have predicted this but that life had plans for us to meet I guess.

I am, as you will understand, still unpacking all of this. Was I subconsciously looking for this? I locked myself in only to be locked out from the world. And in the end, this was how I set myself free. Not the policemen who ate biscotti with me.

Daisy Massey | dorothy.massey@yale.edu .