For some people, just being in a public bathroom heightens the tension of every moment. Something as innocuous as standing next to another person becomes your own personal hell when it’s done at the urinal. I’ve heard sweaty bearded man-voices squeak with fright when asked a question while relieving themselves. Their nerves fail them and they shake and quiver as if their bones were attempting to gyrate out of their bodies. While I don’t personally relish the moments in the men’s room, I cannot say it has ever upset me either.
However, there was a single occasion at the Olive Garden that I will never forget. It all began, strangely enough, at the end of the meal. The bill had been settled and everyone was making their way back to the car. The faux elegance of Olive Garden has already made me slightly giddy, as it always does, and I was full of water. I made a detour to the men’s room and, for a time, had it to all to myself. The first person to enter was an eleven year old with a backwards baseball cap. He paused and decided that, rather than stand next to me, he would enter one of the stalls where he could have additional privacy. I head the seat flip up and his stream make contact with the standing water at the bottom of the toilet.
Moments later, a second young man entered. This one was in his late teens. Again, there was a pause before he too decided upon the privacy of a stall. I was almost offended but considered that they were both knee deep in their awkward years. At sixteen, there was no way I was going to stand next to a grown man and pee if I had the choice of hiding out in a stall. Satisfied that the problem was their lack of self-confidence and not some creepy vibe I was putting out, I went to wash my hands. At first, everything was going fine. My hands were wet, soapy and I was rubbing them together but something started to feel very wrong. I sensed that something awful was about to happen and then it did.
I looked over my right shoulder and found myself face to face with the teenager’s eyeball. He was terrified. He had taken every precaution he could have to avoid this very moment and it had all backfired horribly. Our faces were so close that I could almost taste his breath. Whoever had designed the bathroom had placed his stall as close to the sink as possible and then left a large gap in the wall next to me. We were both stunned and involuntarily locked eyes until I realized that his were just getting larger and more afraid. I could see the alarms going off in his head. His brain was trying to die to avoid any further shame and I fell into a fit of laughter because I knew it.
I laughed hard. Hard enough to drool a little. The entire situation seemed hysterical to me and I couldn’t help myself. I stumbled around the room and clawed at the towels while convulsing, honking and gasping for breaths between laughs. I snorted and chortled all the way out into the parking lot and for most of the ride back.
So, if you are that kid in the Olive Garden bathroom, I am sorry we had to share that wonderful moment.
As a final reminder, this Saturday I will be at the Shadow Art Fair. If you think that you might like to enjoy yourself with an entire day of live music, good beer and art, you should visit Shadowartfair.com for more information. I will be there, at the VOSKY booth, selling the print version of some of my comics and stories (two dollars), music, short films and entirely new stand-alone pieces like the one modeled below.
We also made a commercial for it.
…see you there.