Idylls of the King
By Cean Gamalinda

He rushes past the heavy door and through a stall onto the seat - he should have known better than to order guacamole from a place like this. Self-conditioned to internally plug his nose on entering a public restroom, he makes what he considers a fatal mistake and takes a nice deep whiff of his excremental environment. To his surprise, it's not so bad. Actually, it's not bad at all. Uncomfortably comfortable, he drops his jeans and begins the unloading process.

40% through, he looks with awe at what--he thought-- was bathroom taboo: clean stall walls - as in, no graffiti (Latin Kings/Latin King wannabes or otherwise.) Rather, in neat black cursive on the toilet paper dispenser: JOANIE LOVES CHACHI. What kind, he wonders, of weirdo hippie gang-slang is this?

At 60% he notices a tiny trash can in the corner of the stall. Wavering between courtesy and stuck-uppery as possible motives of its placement, he instead questions the flushing power of the toilet as maybe it just clogs when t.p. gets flushed down. It is probably a good thing that he never actually looks inside the trash can.

When 90% rolls around (or would that be "out?") he hears the heavy door open and an array of loud voices fills the quiet of his stall. Problem: men do not sound like these voices sound. But come on Jay, he admonishes himself, the world ain't like that anymore. Anybody can say anything and anyone who hears it can't just judge them. And then a set of heels passes by the little bottom rectangle that lets him look out a little beyond the door. But, again, he figures he can't just assume they're not men.

"OMG Kelly, you are such a skank!"

He figures it's probably just some new slang.

"Um, like, shut up, ok, Leonardo DiCaprio is flame as fuck."

He doesn't really know what that means, but he does like Leo D, so--

"Oh, oh, oh, I wanna be free-yeah, to feel the way I feel"

His eyes open wide. Ohmygod they are singing the chorus to that one Shania Twain song. He panics, looks out the cracks in the door to make sure they don't suspect the guy in the stall--the guy just now realizing the eerie absence of urinals he was too busy to think about when he first burst into the bathroom. But he can't just up and leave--the process isn't finished yet.

"Did you see that one guy at the table across from us?"

His panic culminates in the cessation of breath.

"Yeah, OMG his stomach was huge! Like, what, are you going to like, eat me? Hahahaaa"

He rubs a gentle hand along his belly, brows furrowing.

"And yeah, his, like, stupid spiked hair? Hahahaaaa"

A well-gelled spike stands a little less straight on his head.

"Or what about his hairy arms? Like, what, you - you gonna, like, shave or something hahahaaaa"

Ashamed, he rubs his fragile arms upon each other.

The cycle continues: unintelligible insult-joke followed by crippling psychosomatic self-consciousness. It only gets worse. It goes on and on until finally he's sitting on the toilet shaking uncontrollably, racked with fire in his eyes. Completing a transition to the fetal position, he draws his feet in so that the straps of his knock-off Air Jordan's collide like tectonic plates. He clicks his heels three times but he's still there. He clicks his heels three times but he's still himself, at 100% but only operating somewhere in the single digits.

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Cean Gamalinda lives and writes in Chicago where he likes to look out the window and sigh. His work can be found at ceantumblrcean.tumblr.com and he loves receiving emails at ceangamalinda@gmail.com

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