|My First Bathroom
2004 by Adiel Cohen
Inspiration comes in random spurts for me. I have come to find that “writers block” is a fallacy and that any topic no matter how microscopic can be refracted into a full bore story. I eat sleep and breathe words and constantly bathe in creativity as a nativity to my boredom, which has given birth to scientifically whimsical stories such as this one.
It was the dawn of an unbelievably frigid morning, but the suns powerful rays refracted through the window and it was warm again. November can be a manic season if one isn’t vigil enough to tolerate it. I stretched still in my bed and felt every joint seem to crackle as my bones and tendons gradually seemed to be waking up. I felt like a cat, but would a cat have the audacity and intelligence to call for the assistance of an oil can? Probably not. I threw on a black long sleeve shirt and tried to amble down the stairs but stumbled several times instead as I walked into a kitchen that was now laced with a chock full of décor. The kitchen was empty all except for the banner that splayed “Happy 18th Birthday” and a fully catered breakfast nook with a smorgasbord of freshly cooked food. Oh yeah my birthday I thought, I was confounded that I could have forgotten it but it gave me no pleasure in rectifying it. Holidays or birthdays are all the same; their magical essence dissipates with time and the weathering of maturity. But today would be a special day, because now that I am 18 my parents are allowing me to embark on an ineffably incredible mission. Today will be my first visit to a Wal-Mart public bathroom. Now I am going to officially be a man, once I am done eating my inaugural banquet as it were I would head to the closest Wal-Mart to deflower my colon inside the bowels of the highest grossing illegitimate children preservation and habitat in the United States of America. I felt proud, and amidst my imaginative stupor I had stood up at attention facing an absent flag and feigning the pledge of allegiance and then my mother hastily walked in as the gravitational pull of her poignant perfume orbited around her filling the room with floral smell garnished by the scent of scrambled eggs, coffee and maple syrup.
“Happy birthday Adi” she said. So do you feel any different?”
“Well I am hungry, other than that I’m a trifle nervous about going to a public bathroom”
“Nervous? You should be excited, neither your father or
I have ever been,” she said while fumbling about the refrigerator for her
lunch. “Besides, you have to go because I wrote your school a doctors note
to take the day off so you might as well make the best of it”
“Where’s dad” I asked
“Your father had to work early to get some of his jewelry appraisals done but he said he would call you later to wish you a happy birthday”
I shrugged and then my mother hugged me and handed me a sack, which contained lunch, a compass, flashlight, a miniature first aid kit and just the tips to all of my shoelaces.
“This should aid you on your journey, and don’t forget your jacket and sleeping bag”
I didn’t realize the seriousness of this expedition until I was handed my supplies. My family has lived a very sheltered life being Hasidic/Amish and all. I had never been privy to their lifestyle yet I still had to abide by their rules since I was now legally old enough to be kicked out and ostracized into the real world so I never got out much until today.
I could never fathom how my mother could make an earnest income working in a coal mine in our backyard, and what baffled me even more was how she would dress business casual with a briefcase just to go dig in a darkened hole for fourteen hours a day. I watched her grab her briefcase and mosey out the door, staring at her until she suddenly disappeared into the chasm.
It was almost 10am, but Wal-Mart was a perpetual store so there would be no rush to crush my spirits. I looked at the front page of the newspaper and caught wind of a bold headline “Castro Assassinated by Elion Gonzalez.” I smiled disdainfully too full of food to focus on the rest of the article. They should have fired that kid out of that cannon while they still had a chance, now look at him he’s a kinder-sniper and he probably still wears his diapers as an innocent smokescreen.
I looked at the buffet in amazement; it looked like it had been ravaged by a hurricane. Now it was time for the period of reconstruction or doing the crockery, which would and should be a travesty on my birthday where I would normally be granted amnesty and treated as majesty for just one day out of the year. But it was a mussy mess so I cleaned it and showered and shaved and got dressed. I would have taken a shit to complete the mix but I was saving that for the days prime objective.
I looked in the mirror seeing no transitions in the aging
process and proceeded to get dressed. Just about everything was dirty and
piled into an accumulative heap so I put on my last pair of structure jeans
and a gray turtleneck and grabbed my backpack full of erroneous supplies
and sleeping bag and lumbered outside into the front yard. The neighbors
watched me as I loaded up the land barge I was given on my sixteenth birthday.
It was craftily built and lightening quick for wooden jettison. I remember
that on one windy Saturday afternoon I got the little fucker up to six
miles per hour with the mast up, it creaked and groaned but it held its
own. Wal-Mart was only three miles away and I felt confident that if I
left now I could make it in four hours. The neighbors were still blathering
to each other and pointing at me as I shoved off the curb with a swift
lift of the anchor. I was barely moving, so I hoisted the mast and caught
a slight breeze and I was off.
It was still chilly so I put on my jacket and began scribbling notes in my trips log while people in their cars honked and cursed me for taking up the entire road. My land barges dimensions were a modest 25 feet by 17 feet, and it was after all a free country. Lost in this notion I caught myself again feigning my patriotic stance and hearing the “Pledge of Allegiance” being chanted in the background by all of the discordant drivers and mundane wildlife. Maybe I should have brought my basset hound I thought. Because for a commute like this it’s always wise to have special protection, and I knew I would need it for the ordeal as a third wheel.
The air was restrained by carbon monoxide making it extremely hard to sing old British sea ballads and dodge the volley of trash and other illicit items simultaneously. Already an hour had passed and my mast was now flapping proudly in the wind. The speedometer was registering four miles per hour, which gave me great pleasure until a glass bottle jostled my head and bounced off hitting another car that was in the passing lane. When my consciousness came back I stood up disoriented and was surprised that I had stayed the course. The barge was only going two miles per hour now but I could see the huge sign just beyond the horizon. I pulled out a copy of my family portrait and imagined how impressed my folks would be. Fatigue began rearing its ugly head so I swilled down the last drop of my canteen and impatiently sat down at the wheel. I had suffered one close call in that last mile where I nearly ran over an armadillo at three miles per hour barely missing a tree as I swerved to miss it.
It wasn’t much of a scenic route; barren plains with sporadic clusters of trees and plenty of cows to go around. There weren’t as many horses, most were confined to a farm but now it was a glue factory for maimed racehorses and suicidal steeds. Buzzards had been encircling me the entire way viewing me optimistically as their next meal, which I would play no role. When I got to the Wal-Mart I merrily parked out in a distant cornfield and decided to walk the rest of the way out of respect towards the many elders that were encircling the parking lot even more rapaciously than the vultures to find the closest spot even though they would probably walk ten times that distance while inside the store.
I got off my vehicle and stretched, the sun was high in the clear blue sky and the temperature was a solid seventy degrees. I strapped on my backpack and shooed off the prairie dogs that had stowed away in my sleeping bag. There weren’t many people at this hour but the employees were copiously stationed at various posts, the best one being the Wal-Mart greeter. A primordial snaggle-toothed rustic bumpkin that had to have cheated death since the Lincoln administration. When nursing homes are bulging at the seams, some people escape and others get jobs scaring the hell out of people as they enter the store. While the rest wander off into the hills like old injured elephants to rest in pieces and attain a job at the pearly gates as a greeter.
Immediately after entering through the automatic doors I approached the customer service counter and put a bag of M&M’s on layaway. The clerk gave me a crude glare but remained reticent as I descended towards the sporting goods. As I walked I noticed alongside several of the aisles there were huge bins or trash receptacles that said: “Place illegitimate children here.” Wow, I thought. So it really is true. After eating a few of the M&M’s I was allowed to keep I got a hankering to finally release my brown cigar fish into their foreign porcelain pond. I was suddenly not too fond of the idea and nearly retracted, but a dominant curiosity pervaded my spirit and I trudged on. I couldn’t find the bathroom but after a meticulous search I found what looked like a trail of orange juice, or at least it looked and retained the same smell. It occurred to me that someone or something doesn’t want me to successfully find the bathroom, possibly a xenophobe but that was farfetched, or was it?
As I suspected, the sticky bright trail lead me straight to the Holy Grail. There were two doors to choose from, both had strange symbols on the outside. Luckily I found the “Gents” and went in expecting to be seized by some burly old man checking people’s passports but the room was empty. Every one of my steps reverberated this cavernous quarter as I discreetly opened the door to the stall, which was painted bright white to probably make the defecations look more pronounced. I felt like a kid in a museum but I was getting bored. Inspiration normally comes in spurts of the Hershey nature but something was holding me back. I took off my backpack and hung it on the door hook opening it and rummaging through it until finding the food my mother had packed. I began to gnaw on my sandwich when I heard the door open. Two pairs of feet were mumbling to each other and each went into separate stalls on either side of me.
There was a long silence before one of the men asked his friend “if there was anything swimming in his bowl?”
“Naw” said the guy on my right.
He then banged on the wall of my stall and complimented my shoes.
“Those are real nice boy, did you get those at Wal-Mart?
Who has casual conversations in a bathroom? This was a sacred place and it shouldn’t be interrupted. Just as I was pondering a thundering fart echoed from the left. The man began reciting “cannons to the left of me, cannons to the right of me, cannons all around” in a broken British accent. His friend seemed to be in a different world not reciprocating in this wild behavioral sink.
“Oh my GOD! What the hell is that?” he screamed abruptly
There was a loud splash, unnervingly loud like the sound of a watermelon being hurled into a swimming pool. I didn’t know what to make of it until he started rolling Easter eggs under the door and asked: “if I knew of a good proctologist?”
I told him “No” and then he attempted a philosophical conversation based solely on laxatives.
You know, I collect laxatives” he rambled “I have a rare 1948 Sal Hepatica laxative brownie mix once used by Helen Keller, its my most prized possession.”
(Another Easter egg rolls by)
“Helen Keller eh? Is it signed? I asked
“Signed? Naw, but thars a picture of her holding the box. Say, do you have any refreshments?”
“Just a half eaten sandwich….”
“Sand bitch?!” said the quiet one “I’ll take one”
The garrulous one began thrashing and splashing about as water flowed into my stall and then there was silence again. I think he fell in, but his friend didn’t seem too concerned. But I was burned, here I was in my first Wal-Mart bathroom and all I could do was sit. So I reached over and pulled out my sleeping bag from my backpack and crawled in. it was still mid-afternoon but I was mired to my mission. When I awoke my water had broke with a stomachache stoked from that gigantic breakfast. Suddenly a vehement force grabbed onto my back and sucked me into the toilet. Maybe I angered the porcelain Gods, but nevertheless the swirling vortex of that hole ended up being a lot bigger than it was perceived. The torrent currents raged about me and I couldn’t see a thing. I felt like I was on an extreme ride at hurricane harbor gone completely sideways and I was swallowing a lot of water.
It would have been easy to remain cognizant if it weren’t for the giant sea turtles careening into me. I tried to grab onto one to use as a floatation device but it was slippery as an eel and it snapped at me probably thinking that my arm was a worm. The piping was extremely tortuous and my conditions were evenly torturous. I was tired and weak and hadn’t a clue to where I was or what I was being swept into. Suddenly, flashes of light and the thick stench of an electrical discharge engulfed me. I was then jolted by a 200,000-volt bolt of energy that paralyzed me, and that was the last thing I could remember.
When I came to, my vision was blurry and it took several long minutes to get my bearings. I grappled about the darkness and immediately my hand had struck a plastic barrier, which encompassed me in a cramped square like capsule. As I examined the aspects through basic touch, severe shocks knocked the galvanic capsule whipping me into a histrionic frenzy. I came to the realization that whatever was confining me was lightweight so I began violently rocking back and forth until gravity finally prevailed. CRASH! The impact jostled the door open and I tumbled out into freedom. It was now twilight, and I tried to catch my breath as my surroundings slowly materialized. My heart began pounding making irregular sounds, and the sharp intoxicating scent of sanitizer seized me with nauseous paroxysms. I began to stand to get a better look at my capsule cubicle and thrilled in amazement as I pieced the days events together.
Apparently I had been in a “Portal” Potty, a veritably perfect decoy and possible ploy to ruin what could have been the ultimate bathroom extravaganza. My grandparents fed me anecdotes growing up about ostentatious outhouses and lavish water closet cotillions that only the most aristocratic would attend. So I was burdened by my wide-eyed expectations, constantly nagging my mother in the coal mine who was always polite, even while brandishing sticks of dynamite while harnessed to her donkey. But nevertheless, I did partially succeed in my jagged journey. I had hunkered on and been dunked in the most celebrated throne known to my primitive family and went on to uncover a wormhole in the time space continuum that would make Einstein blush and Hawking sprint into a brick wall. I never told anyone of my experience but made a vow to some day, once again return to the porcelain palace without getting arrested by a convectional water hole.
I began writing through poetry as a joke to curb the
encompassing humdrum about four years ago and as a vent to decompress from
my stress and aggression. After getting a couple of frivolous degrees I
came to an introspective crossroads that lead me deep into the abyss of
literacy winning several writing contests, landing a freelance gig with
the Dallas Morning News and a position writing for a seasonal tabloid magazine.
My goal is to be able to stray away from journalism and focus strictly
on the aesthetic aspects of writing, so I am back on my feral horse as
curiosities velocity drags me back into more contests.
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