One L(ove)

November 7, 2008

A Restroom Tale

Filed under: Uncategorized — galileehitchhiker @ 11:02 pm

After a long and tiring day at work, I decided to go to the restroom before I headed back home. So as I’m standing in front of one of the two urinals in the restroom, taking care of business by drawing out what move to make in the chess section in the newspaper while humming Mingus and tapping my right foot, I hear someone punch the code to the door and enter. Ah! The Other! Yes, here was the Sartrean “Other” who restricts my free acts with his presence by making me focus on myself and at the same time orienting my world around him. It happened to be one of the lawyers who works at the firm. Well, he doesn’t actualy work for the firm but rents out one of the offices in it–but we treat him as if he is part of the firm. He’s extremely fun to be around, extremely outgoing, and full of life, a sort of a Neal Cassady figure. There I am, standing upright, looking straight, not daring to turn my head, stopped humming, stopped tapping my feet, because I thought a partner had just entered the restroom. All I kept on thinking to myself is, “Don’t screw up! Don’t screw up! Don’t screw up! Just stay safe and don’t say anything because otherwise, you’ll definitely screw up!” I hear a zip go down behind me. It was so loud that I felt like I was a bat, taking in the echoes of the unzipping bouncing off the walls. It’s remarkable what a partner’s presence does to law student. I hear someone approaching the other urinal and I told myself not to move my head. I moved my head. After I saw that it wasn’t one of the partners, I let out a huge sigh of relief. It was Michael, the lawyer who rents one of the offices in the firm. I slouched down a little, relieved. He looks at me and says, “What the hell are you doing here? You must really love this place.” I answered back, “Today was such a busy day. I’m so beat. I felt like I had to take care of business before I leave for home because I know it’ll take me ten hours (equivalent to 1 hr. and 30 minutes) to get there.” Then he says, “Yeah, man. Tell me about it.” After that, something happened that frightened the hell out of me. I thought death was imment, no lie–and death frightens me. In the time it lasted, which was about seven complete seconds, I thought: 1. there’s apparently a cat in the restroom that has just been frightened; 2. an old woman is sitting in the corner of the restroom wailing her heart out; or 3. Judgment Day had arrived with a single blow from God’s trumpet. I soon realized it was none of the above. Apparently, our friend Michael ripped a HUGE one (the emphasis is still an understatement). After I regained some sense of composure, I didn’t know what to say. “Look straight! Don’t say anything!” Did I listen? Of course not. “Oh…my…God!” I said. He started to laugh and said, “Hey, man. You’ve got to do it some place.” Strangely, I felt flattered in a sense because usually when you rip one around people, without restricting yourself, you’re really telling the person, “I’m comfortable around you and I know you won’t judge me.” Usually, except for the brave souls, we’re afraid to do so because we’re afraid of that Sartrean gaze, that “Other” who converts us into an “object” for his own viewing. For example, when you’re dusting in your living room and your curtains are wide open, a person can look in any time. However, you are not aware of it. As soon as you turn around, and realize that anyone could have stared at you dancing while dusting, you feel yourself become an “object” in that “Other’s” world. You become concerned with how you appear in front of others. But the amazing thing about ripping it out loudly is that it usually defies that. It lets the person know that you resist the “Other” turning you into an “object” by letting them know that outright and also letting them know that you’re comfortable around them. How many other human communications can express that? Remarkable! What a great statement of personal liberty, of no restrictions, undermining social mores with a single act. After telling him a funny story about what I did one time during my undergrad days, he told me a story about how he ripped one (the type that scares everyone: sort of like when the hand of a zombie comes out of the ground at the end of one of those B-rated horror flicks) at a Chinese restaurant when he was taking his wife out on a date. When he told me about the people’s reactions, we both had a good chuckle about it. The poor receptionist thought we were having the world’s most serious conversation about transactions. All I wish is that when I finish school and go out for interviews, he’ll be there: “Oh, we’ve got to hire him! He’s got great ‘communication’ skills. Hey, man. You won’t believe this. Before coming here…” As we parted ways, all I could think of was that if he’s that loud in public, I wonder how he’s at home? Livy, the great historian, once said of the Gauls, who struck fear in the Romans and eventually sacked the city: “They are given to wild outbursts and they fill the air with hideous songs and varied cries.” I feel so sorry for his poor wife.

Currently listening to: Tom Waits – The Heart of Saturday Night


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