Monday, October 11, 2010

Hard act to follow. In fact, the worst.

What do you do when when you're on line for the bathroom, and the person who went right before you left it in a bad state? There are people waiting behind you. The woman in front of me tried this one: Jogging out of there with a stressed-out kind of grimace. I'm supposed to think she's in a rush. She couldn't possibly have been in there long enough to do that kind of damage.

I have compassion for her because I used this trick before. However, it failed:

I was at a networking Happy Hour event a couple years ago. It was at the headquarters of a creative agency I was hoping to team up with on some projects. They do good work and are nice people, the kind of people you'd definitely like to have a beer with. But I don't drink anymore. So at events like these I drink a lot of coffee which, by the way, has the opposite effect alcohol does to ease your nerves in social settings. It doesn't. It also makes you have to go to the bathroom a lot.

The bathroom was occupied. After a few minutes one of the principals of the firm came out. I walked in after him.

People who know me puzzle over this paradox --- I have a scatological sense of humor myself, but I'm horrified by other people's, you know, business. I have OCD but nobody ever diagnosed it. I check the stove burners three times sometimes before leaving the house. And I have a thing with public bathrooms; I still use my shirt cuffs or a knuckle to open the door.

This guy had left a, um, smell in there. This situation kicks off my compulsive paranoia. I'm somehow going to breathe poo into my mouth and lungs.

I think I might've damaged my ureter trying to get done as quickly as possible. And, like the woman I mentioned above, I rushed out right after I was done. Hopefully there would be a window before somebody else got in line. If someone was waiting in line, hopefully it would be clear I'd been in and out quickly, doing the quicker of the two things you can do in there. No luck. Next in line was one of the more hipsterly people in the firm. She's a girl, she's my age (the guy is a little older), she's a copywriter, and she's super sarcastic and funny. Shit.

I looked down quickly and walked back to my seat. My face was hot. I continued staring at my shoes, studying the laces, trying to lose myself in the patterns on the carpet, because out of the corner of my eye I could see the copywriter walk back into the room. Why was I so ashamed?

The actual perpetrator, the guy who'd been in there before me, was about to make a couple announcements. I like to pretend that even my closest intimates never, ever take a crap. So now I'm picturing somebody I don't really know that well in that compromising situation. I can't help it: this makes him drop in my esteem. Picture Abraham Lincoln taking a dump. Or somebody hot like Meghan Fox or George Clooney. See? Even animals. The fleet greyhound or noble Husky all huddled up with its back arched, looking nervously about, inelegant and craven. Do I look like that? Of course everybody thinks like me, so the copywriter must have been looking at me the same way.

Worse? It's a casual firm and it was a younger crowd, so the guy was comfortable saying "shit" a couple of times during his welcome announcements and introductions. It's also a digital firm, so it was also not surprising when he used the term "data dump" at one point.

Horses are the only mammals who can shit with any dignity. They stand tall, looking off into the distance, and simply let it drop. Maybe I should try that.

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