Private and Public

Private Polly to Public Polly: I can’t believe you just did that right out in the middle of this mall

-What? You have a problem with me taking off my bra when it’s bothering me? Don’t you want me to be comfortable?

You could have stepped into the restroom and done it behind a locked stall door.

-Why should I? Look at the bald guy over there — he’s changing his nose piercing as he waits in line for his chai latte. And that woman in the green sundress across the way just reached into her purse, took out a stick of deodorant, and applied it, as she walked out of J. Crew and into The Gap.

We used to work so well together. I did certain things where no one could see or hear them and you only did things that the two of us agreed were acceptable for the rest of the world to witness. But more and more you’re doing my job — right out where anyone and everyone can see you! I should have put my foot down when it all began. Ten years ago when you started flossing your teeth on your morning commute. But you said “Millions of other people are already doing it. Why shouldn’t I?”

-Every time the trained stopped between stations, sure, I took out my peppermint floss. It was a good way to keep my rage under control, giving me something to do.

And then cellphones came in and you started talking about your last hookup while standing in line at the ATM. Your sexcapades were something I looked forward to writing down in our journal and then hiding it in your bedside table. There are some things that should only be done privately!

-Fewer and fewer with every passing day. And anyway, I don’t pick my nose. I’ve left that for you to do.

Gee, thanks.

-Actually I’m glad you brought this all up. Because the fact is, I really don’t need your services any longer.


-Now, don’t take this personally! Years ago I needed a private me. Or I thought I did. And you performed magnificently, you really did. You kept pantie-less photos of me off the Internet, you restrained my PDAs, you shushed me when I loudly discussed my income level in restaurants. But times have changed.

You really think you can function without me?

-In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve already been functioning without you for the last two and a half years. You always told me that I needed you.  You said I needed you in order to be alluring to lovers, as though there should always a little more of me worth finding out about. You even went so far as to insist that civilization depended on your policing of me!  But now I see that you were just trying to make me dependent on you–you were being selfish! 

-Hello? Are you still there? Hello?!  So you’ve gone. It’s just as well. I didn’t want to have to fire you. And don’t think I miss you. Because right now, I can take out my compact and apply eyeliner right here in this R subway train without you criticizing me.  I’ve got my mirror out and I’m going to do it in front of everyone.

-Wait a minute, what’d you do to this mirror?  It’s completely blank, there’s nothing there!

Polly Frost’s new book, “With One Eye Open,” is a collection of 25 of her humor pieces. Her website is