56 thoughts on “A Note to the Anonymous Man Sitting in the Bathroom Stall Next to Me Earlier Today

  1. “It started with a dame, like all things do. I should’ve known it’d lead to trouble the moment she offered to make me dinner. Mexican. But what was once a spicy wrap of delight wrapped in a crispy tortilla now torments my intestinal track. I’ve been in trouble before, but not quite like this. And so I find myself, in a dirty stall, in a dirty bar, straining as I read the second rate graffiti drawn by third rate hoodlums…”

    “Hey, shut up!”

  2. “The floor is filthy, the sink has no hot water, the paper towel dispenser is empty, the toilet paper comes from Russia… but, hey, the acoustics in here are great!”

  3. Okay, but was he doing it into a cell phone? I can’t believe how many times in the past year there were guys talking on cellphones in the bathroom. One guy even took a call. Really. Didn’t we make enough jokes about this in the 90s to have everyone get a clue.

  4. The cellphone in bathroom thing is beyond disturbing. I always wonder if the person on the end thinks when they hear toilets flushing. I’d hang up on the person directly after a quick apology.

  5. Yeah, I thought I’d chime in here. I know some of my followers have told you to pray without ceasing.

    Well, on behalf of not only Dad, but Mohamed, L. Ron Hubbard (Yes, we let him in, but only if he promises to keep Tom Cruise from jumping on anymore couches), Buddha, and even my former office mate, Satan, WOULD YOU PLEASE GIVE IT A REST WHEN YOU’RE ON THE JOHN!?!?!?

    That goes double for you, Richard Dawkins! You’re not fooling us with your constant pleas of “Oh, God, just get me through this and I’ll never drink again!”

    Really, if Scalzi doesn’t want to listen to you on the crapper, what in Lucifer’s sulfur-filled startup makes you think those of us in the great beyond want to?

    A little logic here, people. Next you’ll be building museums suggesting Genesis was supposed to be taken liter-

    Dad dammit! Too late.

  6. I think it depends on the voice of the person in the neighboring stall. Cue that movie trailer announcer guy: In a world with a tremendous variety of tempting foods, sometimes a man finds he has overdone it a bit …

  7. You sir, clearly have no idea what you are talking about.
    I form a personal and loving relationship with each of my turds, naming them in transit during their effluviation from betwixt my puckerguard, their soft, gentle splash music to my ears as the sound of another job well done.

    God, I love potty humor. Works well with my job I guess.

    That does suck, but it could be worse. I nearly walked into an unlocked bathroom stall today on a schizophrenic who was having active auditory hallucinations. Either that, or he was REALLY pissed at the toilet.

  8. It was obviously a spy-connection gone wrong. You were supposed to respond “The Eagle lands on the Rightmost Eyrie” or somesuch.

  9. The only thing I can think of is that the person in question feels that you can gain control of the process if you talk it out.
    Sorry, the pun wasn’t intended but I’m leaving it.

    I never have understood the cell phone in the bathroom thing at all. I set mine to “direct to voice mail” at these times. Interruptions are not appreciated.

  10. ROFLOLTSDF!!

    (Roll on floor laughing out loud tears streaming down face)
    Sides hurt too…I’m sure the new neighbors downstairs will think I’m being tortured!

    PS – from the number cell phone conversations I’ve heard in lady’s rooms lately, nothing is sacred any more…

    Of course, a friend of mine thinks nothing of it and calls it a sharing experience. I think his wife has almost broken of that habit though.

  11. Side note: Parents, if your child is mostly potty-trained but still requires occasional supervision or a checklist, I’m very happy for you and your son’s outstanding early development… but reading off each step in a dulcet voice is bound to make me laugh hysterically and probably scar your pride and joy’s psyche for life.
    So, yeah — what John said.

    (Did you know that it’s possible to bite through a half-roll of TP when you’re trying not to laugh aloud?)

  12. About the cell phone thing…I was next to someone who not only made a call on her phone while in the next stall, but I swear she took a picture. I’ve tried to block it from my memory but now thanks to this post I feel free to share. =P

  13. But was it creative narration? Third person? With supporting characters and names? Well-chosen adjectives? Did he avoid the passive voice? How cool could that narration be if he put some effort into it!

    “It’s lonely in Stall Four, my friends. Maybe the floor tiles were white once, but years and years of being trodden by dirty feet stained them to a dull off-white, and the paint on the stall door had seen better days too. I wonder if Jeff and Muffy are still ‘together forever’, as they were on that surely beautiful day in 1998 when Jeff memorialized his love for her, using his car key as a writing instrument upon the wall of Stall Four. But no matter; it’s three hours since that last unfortunate burrito, and it’s time for me to focus on the job at hand. Forgive me, Max! You’ve served me well through the years, and you no doubt will continue to do so even into my elder years when I will have to worry about regular exams to make sure you’re not ridden with cancerous growths. But now I must call upon you again, dear Max, to help me get out of Stall Four without grunting and moaning. Ahhhh, Max, no man has ever had a better colon.”

    [Minutes later]

    “Ahhh, thank you, Max. As a reward to you for your latest service to me, I shall read you a story! Here’s one…it’s called Zoe’s Tale. I met the author earlier. Nice guy, smells like bacon.”

    [Suddenly his attention is caught by the person in Stall Five, who is suddenly screaming "NOOOOO!!!"]

    “Huh. Wonder what’s eating him?”

  14. Oooh, this is a fun game. How about “Air Traffic Control” as a theme?

    “Four-seven heavy, you are cleared for Runway Zero Niner Zero.”

    “Ahhhh, roger Control, zero niner zero transiting to taxiway.”

    “Winds four-seven at two knots”

    “Commencing take-off roll”

    “Encountering headwinds”

    Okay, I’m stopping there.

  15. No, it’s not absolutely necessary, but coming from someone who has spent time on the other side of the wall, it sure can be fun…

    Oh, and Tomd, that is pure gold

  16. Wait a sec, this is the guy who writes a novella where pig crap plays a major role, and the opening chapter of comedic tour-de-force is a prolong fart joke and you expect us to believe that this weirded you out? This is material for the next book. Consider it research.

  17. I will text, but not talk on a cell phone, while in a stall. This is partly because my work men’s room is an effective Faraday cage, and signals for my phone are lost there, but I have the same policy at home, actually; I think it’s more to do with the fact that a text message doesn’t contain any actualy sounds!

    Someone else will have to claim that my disparate views on texting and speaking in this context constitute a wide stance on the issue…

  18. Xopher, your men’s room is a Faraday cage? That’s so cool. I bet whoever built the office had to pay extra for that. I wonder what they planned to do in there.

  19. I started to post on the category of horse-race commentators, but I can’t hear myself think over the honking of my bad-taste warning klaxon.

  20. The Top Ten Star Wars Lines Heard By John Scalzi From The Neighbouring Cubicle

    10. “Stay on target… stay on target…”
    9. “Great shot, kid! That was one in a million!”
    8. “Whoo! And I thought these things smelled bad on the outside!”
    7. “You were unwise to lower your defenses.”
    6. “I don’t care what you smell. Get in there!”
    5. “I got a bad feeling about this…”
    4. “Look at the size of that thing!”
    3. “Now, witness the true power of this fully armed and operational battle station.”
    2. “We will redouble our efforts!” – “I hope so, Commander, for your sake.”
    1. “I got a funny feeling… like I’m never going to see it again.”

  21. The number of people at my office who have cellphone conversations while on the can is *staggering.*

    Also, based on the “click-click-click” noises I hear, half of the people who don’t talk are still texting or using blackberries.

  22. It ins’t always a bad thing. I know a guy that was tending bar in a restaurant where Don Novello was having dinner. When Novello got up to go to the bathroom this guy followed him in and sat in the next stall.

    “Father, forgive me for I have sinned…”

    It was said that Mr. Novello found it exceedingly funny.

  23. AJ @ #47: You missed one of the best — “The Force is strong with this one.” It’s almost as good as “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenyl cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”

  24. Tomd@19
    HOW on EARTH did you find that story?
    The story si extremely repulsive but I couldn’t help myself but read to its end…

  25. ROFL! I have lost count of the number of times I’ve had to tell my kids the exact same thing.

    Although, once my son started learning to read, I also had to ask him to stop spelling the graffiti in the stall. I think his crowning moment was asking what “d-i-l-d-o” spelled during the 7th-inning stretch at Wrigley Field. You could have dropped a pin and had a chance of hearing it over the echoes of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

  26. 50: I missed out an anguished Wookie “Aaaauuuuurrrrrhhhh” because I wasn’t quite sure how to spell it…

  27. Jeff @#21: I have never tried to work it out by talking, but I have sometimes tried to work it out with a pencil.*

    Wendy @#24: Isn’t it sort of like when women go to the bathroom in groups? Oh, it isn’t like that at all? Okay, so noted.

    * Quite possibly that is the inspiration for most restroom-stall graffiti — what, did you think I meant something else?

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