Nine days: that’s how long I’ve known Katie.
Yet she knows more about me than she probably wanted to.
Almost 10 days ago, I looked around my tour group and wondered who the hell I was going to be rooming with. Especially after I had such a challenging first few days.
As it turned out, Katie was the reason why I had so many problems checking in my hotel in the first place. For reasons I still don’t understand, my reservation was under Katie’s name (I know, WTF), so I was pretty keen to meet this mysterious ‘Katie, messer of hotel bookings’.
She is actually great. No drama, no weird habits (or bad form like, whether you’re still asleep or not, switching all the lights on at 6am) and she wasn’t a stage-5 clinger who didn’t realise that you’re allocated a room mate, not a best mate.
I hadn’t ‘roomed’ with anyone for, well, ever. Starting the tour in New York, we were on our best behaviour, kind of like hanging out at a new partner’s place for the first time.
It wasn’t really awkward. But it was. But it wasn’t. We were just sussing the other out. Normal stuff.
I did find I wasn’t trying to impress her per se, rather I was doing some suppressing.
Like telling a new boyfriend I only ever watched the ABC and SBS news… casually omitting the fact that I will, a couple of times a week, watch The Project, or worse, skip the news altogether to watch a couple of banked-up episodes of Teen Mom 2. Or that no, no, no, I don’t have a TV in my room and fall asleep to Family Guy like a teenage boy almost every night.
But like any couple living in close quarters, things can get very familiar, very quickly.
Like, no matter how much you try, the massive hole in the backside of your favourite pyjama pants won’t be easily explained away. So you just don’t bother.
Or how you’re dressed or, at the very least, decent, at every possible moment when you’re both in the room. Until it just becomes impractical, and anything resembling mystery evaporates like a vampire trying his luck to get a tan.
Familiarity is so rife in this group, which is made up of 95 per cent women, that the hot topic of conversation was undies. Specifically, clean ones and where we could get them.
I know what you’re thinking.
Just wash them, right?
Well, in real life, that’s of course a no-brainer. But we were on a tour that was constantly hitting the ground running. Washing could be done in a basin, a shower, but that takes a couple of minutes. It’s drying that can take hours.
Why would it take hours in the US, a country which is only days out of summer?
I’ll tell you why.
Hotels is why.
Katie and I talked briefly (pun absolutely intended) about what was missing in every single hotel bathroom: an exhaust. If you try to hang up your smalls in a bathroom with no exhaust, you get damp smalls for days. DAYS.
Also, while it might be more effective to hang them up in your room, the controlled climate environment isn’t as ideal as an open window, and good luck to you finding one you can actually open… or is meant to open
Clearly the only alternative is to put aside half a day of learning about Civil Rights and dry your rex grundies with the complimentary hairdryer, amirite?
So we had a problem on our hands. I never thought I’d say this but we needed a general big box retail outlet. We needed Walmart.
Even our tour leader needed new boxers.
How do I know? Well, ladies, listen up. No, really, Andy has his good pants and his other pants. His other pants look straight from backpackerfashionwarehouse.com, dark sandy-coloured jeans with more blowouts than downtown Beirut.
One blowout was just below his front pocket on the right hand side. It looked like he had started to make his jeans into hot pants but gave up after five inches. That’s when I noticed his bright blue boxers. Then I noticed them again the next day. My mate Morgan and I pressed him on whether they were the same ones from the previous day or part of a Five Days In Rio pack. He just said, with a shrug, ‘yeah, they’re the same ones’. Fair enough. No one cared.
Things were getting grim when we couldn’t get to a Walmart or a Super K Mart. Morgan offered me a couple of her unworn, too-small, super-skimpy ‘undies’ she accidentally bought right before the trip. I just decided I’d power through with the help of my homemade Party Feet.
Yep, we were now so familiar with each other that undies were now part of our new economy.
I can hear my grandma Joanie with her classic ‘it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have (or be able to get to a Walmart)’.
In the instance of the zombie apocalypse, I’ll be the one trading in clean, fresh undies.
I’m sure Katie’s going to miss me.