I realize, being a more base creature, that a lot of the things I say boil down to toilet humor or crude innuendos. I'd like to tell you that today is the day that I rise above the depths that I dwell in and dazzle you with prose that is intelligent, thoughtful and filters the very thoughts of the gods through my fingertips and onto your computer screen...
But that would be a lie.
Today, my friends, is the day that I tell you about the standoff.
As seems to be the trend lately, I found myself working late. This is a troubling trend because over the past few years I've fallen into a very specific routine that revolves around my work schedule. Very often you see commercials for products that promise to keep you "regular". For the longest time as a child I had no idea what that meant. Naturally, I assumed it meant it would keep your body from sprouting hair in odd places, or perhaps even would keep you from growing or shrinking to irregular proportions. It wasn't until well into college that I made the connection between regularity and bowel movements...a connection that still sends me into fits of giggling.
Needless to say, I do not require these products.
The universe hath blessed me with an abnormal amount of regularity, and lately has decided to place the regularity conveniently into the time directly when I arrive home at work. All this is a very roundabout way of telling you that due to staying late at work, I found my regularity alarm going off when I was still waist deep in ads about McDonald's Frappes and KFC Double Down Sandwiches.
As I walked to the bathroom, every step an adventure, I dreaded the task that lay before me. Every time I have to make two in the bathroom at work, a little piece of me dies. Despite my trepidation, I pushed forward. There was work to be done.
As I entered the poorly lit bastion of BMs I was relieved to see that my favorite stall was unoccupied. The bathroom on the 12th floor of our Park Ave. South building is a strange sight to behold. The designer of the room was very concerned with accommodating people of all shapes and sizes. As you walk in, you are greeted by two urinals; one at a standard height and one that stands just about 9 inches off the ground. Since I don't work in an elementary school, I have to assume that this urinal is either intended for the massive population of midgets that work during the day time or men with penises that could only be described as "freakishly long".
Having no use for a urinal in my present state, I stepped over the midget that was blocking my path and headed into my stall of choice. You see, the stalls have just as strange a dichotomy as the urinals. One stall is quite literally the size of four standard stalls, and for some reason all the lights in the room seem to be centered over it making for a spacious, well-lit and luxurious experience. It could probably fetch a solid rate on the New York City rental market as a quaint studio. The other stall, however, would be situated in the ghetto and owned by the greasiest slumlord in all five boroughs.
The ghetto stall is small, poorly lit and never clean. There are many times when I have viewed it from afar and been certain that I've seen evil spirits floating around it as a raincloud poured overhead.
I closed the door behind me in my luxury stall and stopped dead in my tracks in horror. Not only had somebody made a foul mess of the toilet, but there was not a single square of toilet paper in sight. On a different day, I may have stopped to find some tolet paper and clean up the mess left by one of my disgusting coworkers, but the regularity alarm was now screeching so loud that I could barely think and there was work to be done.
I made my way to the ghetto stall with a tear in my eye, but was relieved when I entered to find a clean toilet and a plethora of toilet paper that would surely last a lifetime if I needed it to.
The next part is not essential to the story. Let's just say...things happened.
At what I would estimate would've been about halftime of the game, someone else came in the bathroom and entered the luxury suite. I'm sure they had a similar reaction to me, but weren't offered the option of the ghetto stall. I expected this person to leave...perhaps go and get some paper towels to bring in as a closer...but he did not. He stayed there...presumably staring at my feet and waiting for the moment when I might leave so he could waddle over to the ghetto and collect some TP.
This is when it happened.
The door to the bathroom creaked open, and a man who shall henceforth be known as The Enigma came into play.
The Enigma was on a mission similar to mine. He was desperate...a man with no hope. When he entered that bathroom and found that not only the Luxury Suite, but also The Ghetto were closed off to him...the Enigma did something that was unthinkable to any man. He snapped.
I think that when encountering this problem, 99% of the population would do something similar. Leave the bathroom and wait somewhere with a good vantage point on the door and pray for a speedy exit of one of the current residents. The Enigma had other plans...
I'd like to live in a world where all stall doors are perfect seals, leaving everything to the imagination as to what wonders might be happening behind them...but that is not that case. In the Luxury Suite, you are so far away from the door that this is not an issue, but in The Ghetto, you are on display like a stripper at a 25 cent peep show in Times Square circa 1987. The gaps between door and wall are so wide, that there may as well be no door at all. This is where things became...interesting.
The Enigma didn't leave the bathroom. The Enigma turned, faced The Ghetto...and stared.
Our eyes met through the crack and The Enigma stared into my soul. Never before had I been so on display, with the exception of a tasteful "student film" I made in college. This was a complete violation though...not only of my privacy but of thousands of years of social structure that had been established by the gods living on Mount Olympus. From day one, there has been one rule that is a social contract between all men that has never been broken; don't watch another man drop a duke.
The Enigma cared not for this law.
I'm not sure of the origins of The Enigma. Surely he had been forged in the fires of hell, sent to Earth with one job; to make me feel awkward.
We locked eyes. I stared at him. He stared at me. Sweat poured down both our foreheads for a variety of reasons.
I tried to think of a way out of the stall without having to exit through the door. Maybe I could punch through the wall...or somehow crawl down the toilet and make my way to freedom in a very Shawshankish type of way. I searched frantically for something to cover up the crack in the door, but unless I took off my shirt or pants there was nothing that was a viable option. I was sure that if I removed any more clothing, The Enigma would take it the wrong way and possibly attack.
I was stuck. There was only one way out of this situation, and that was to head forward, with my head held high knowing that even though I had been violated, I was still alive to breathe another breath and see another day.
There was a problem though.
I am part of a small percentage of the population that wipes standing up. I always get a ton of flack for this from people when it comes up, but the mechanics of wiping sitting down confuse me. I just don't see how it's done, and I'm well past the point where it would be acceptable for anyone to teach me.
So there I was. The Enigma staring, staring, staring at me through the crack in the stall...and me knowing that any second I would have to stand up, my bits hanging in the cold, darkly lit air for him to eye hungrily.
Then...hope. The door to the bathroom creaked open again. I was saved! Surely this new player would scare off The Enigma, and I could make my exit with dignity!
The Enigma proved me wrong.
"Hey man. What are you doing?" said the stranger.
"Just hanging out," chirped The Enigma without taking his eyes off my stall.
"In the bathroom?"
It was at this point, I realized there was no hope. Not only did The Enigma break the laws of man, but he didn't care who knew about it. He wanted in that stall, and he was going to awkward me out of it.
"Have it your way, Enigma." I thought to myself.
I then stood up and let all my glory face forward in full view of The Enigma. I was hoping that there would be some sort of Arc of the Covenant type of reaction that would cause The Enigma's face to melt off when faced with the full glory of my bits. This did not happen.
I tried to move to the side of the stall, cutting off the angle of The Enigma's view, but since I was in The Ghetto there was nowhere to run. I was already crammed into the space as it was, and trying to move anywhere was out of the question. So I stood there, more or less naked and reaching around myself at awkward angles...and The Enigma stared. He stared with intent. He stared with purpose. He stared with eyes that would've burned a hole through a hunk of granite and melted certain metals. The Enigma stared...and I trudged on.
After a few seconds that lasted years I finally finished. I flushed the toilet and pulled my pants up. I took a deep breath and opened the door to the stall, hoping that somehow it had all been some sort of poophoric vision and that The Enigma was nothing more than a mirage imagined in a moment of sublime relief.
The Enigma was all too real.
I stepped out, chin raised high and with an air of snobbishness...and walked to the sink. I washed my hands with extra vigor, trying to scrub free much more than any rogue poo particles that may have been on my hand.
Behind me, I heard The Enigma enter The Ghetto and situate himself. I openly wept as I returned to my desk, having never felt more violated in my life. It was then that I remembered the man in the other stall. The silent occupant and partial witness to the proceedings which had forever scarred my life. He was still in The Luxury Suite. Still without paper...and The Enigma was blocking him from relief. For some reason, I felt a sense of comradery with the other occupant at that moment. He was just as trapped by The Enigma as I was. I had to help him. The Enigma wouldn't have another victim...not if I had anything to do about it.
I sprinted back to the bathroom, intent on helping the poor man who was trapped in the stall next to me. I kicked open the door and stepped into the dark room...hands on my hips and ready to be the hero that I knew I could be. I wasn't prepared for the sight that greeted me.
There was the person from the other stall...standing there in front of the ghetto. His pants around his ankles. Staring. Staring in at The Enigma. The Enigma on the other side staring back at him. Both men waiting for the other to break, truly locked in a bitter, pantsless standoff.
I backed out of the bathroom as quietly as possible and returned to my desk.
Never before in my life had I wished so much to be irregular.