Monday, 23 January 2012

Bathroom Poetry

          On a recent night out at the Biltmore I noticed something on one of my visits to the facilities – and no this has nothing to do with dicks or dick jokes. What caught my eye was the vast amount of graffiti on the walls. I have been to the Biltmore many times before but this is the first time I really thought about the ink that covers the bathroom walls so completely. I guess the main query I had was, who wrote all this stuff?
            I found myself wondering several things about these authors. The thing that stuck out the most was my curiosity over who brings Sharpies or big fat permanent markers to the bar? I suppose it would be the same type who carries one around so they can mark-up mailboxes and bus stops. At least I hope it’s the same type, it would be even stranger to me to be leaving for the bar and make sure to grab your marker so you can tag the bathroom. That sort of action shows a level of forethought towards bathroom artwork, which I find to be curious/creepy.
            Something else I couldn’t help but muse on was that despite so much writing on the Biltmore walls and that of many other establishments, I’ve never seen anybody writing on the walls. Which filled me with questions over wall writing etiquette. Are you supposed to wait until the room is cleared before you start? Was the stuff written above the urinal done whilst peeing? Does that ever result in awkward moments with other patrons? See, now I kind of want to catch somebody in the act. I think I would get a modest chuckle walking into the loo to see a guy, junk in one hand and Sharpie in the other leaving his mark.
            I suppose a large part of my interest also goes to the mentality of bathroom tagging and I guess tagging in general. I fail to see the drive behind it. If, indeed it is some sort of turf thing or an ‘I was here’ feeling, then wouldn’t – if caught in the act – the writer turn to me and pump his fist with a little ‘Fuck yeah and shit!’ so I knew it was him. So I knew that I was in the presences of greatness, that I actually saw ‘Stumpy’ or ‘Togsoner’ or ‘FilthBomb’ in person.
            This phenomenon of bathroom tagging is not contained solely within the lavatory of the Biltmore. It is something I have seen at dozens if not hundreds of establishments, as I suspect you have as well. Which means you should be familiar with the two basic types of privy prose. The first being the simple ‘tag’, which when I think about it is most fitting for the bathroom as ‘tags’ tend to be heaping piles of shit. The second form encountered is the small poem or comment – things such as ‘Becky Winston is a bitch’ or ‘for a good time call 778-995-5789’ - at least in the men’s room, not so sure about the other side.
            It’s actually what is written in the ladies room that caused me to dwell so much on the washroom scripture. A day or two before that I was with a friend who told me of some truly great conversations she read written on the stall door of the washroom. They sound very much different than what I am used to reading in the men’s room. This particular conversation started with a girl complaining how fat and ugly she thought she was or something to that effect. As it turned out the response was all positive, several comments left behind reassuring this initial girl that she was wrong and that she was beautiful and other such comforts.
            My friends informed me that this sort of thing is not uncommon, that girls will often write nice things to each other and try and be helpful to the strangers who had previously popped a squat in that particular stall. Again something I found fascinating. This concept opened up a whole new dimension to the bathroom writing mentality that just leaves me with more questions.
            So, I will put those questions to you. If you, loyal reader, can shed any light on the practice of bathroom tagging, poetry, conversations and any form of stall messaging please do. If you have engaged in this practice yourself then help me understand why? If you have ever caught somebody in the act of writing on the walls/stalls of a bathroom please share. Lastly, if you for some reason can recall a particularly memorable piece of writing you’ve read then share that story.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Driver's Bubble 2

           As I mentioned previously in ‘The Driving Bubble’ I have not done much driving in the last year. This is due to my steady lack of employment, which has made it somewhat difficult to afford the upkeep of an automobile. So over the last couple of months I have been trying to sell my car – a gorgeous ’97 Corolla if anyone is interested. A small problem with my attempted sale is that because the car has sat idle for so long the battery is pretty low. So for the last few days I have been taking my ride for little spins around the neighbourhood to keep it in running order. Nothing to far afield, just aimless circles through the surrounding blocks. It was on one of these short jaunts I was struck with a realization – I miss driving.
            I know that sounds similar to the original ‘Driver’s Bubble’, but this time it had nothing to do with the special zone for unfettered singing. It was simply the joy of being behind the wheel and going for a cruise. It was at some point when I cracked the window to get a little breeze going that I had a flashback. I was instantly transported back to the early days of having my driver’s license and the ensuing feelings of freedom.
            I couldn’t help but remember what a big deal it was to acquire a license, that ability to no longer rely on a parent or bus to take you somewhere ­- An instant feeling of being older, of reaching some sort of milestone. It’s been ten years since I started driving and over those many days and thousands of kilometers covered on the road, I lost that feeling of excitement when getting behind the wheel.
            Over those last ten years so much of my time at the wheel felt like a chore. Gone was that spark of giddiness when turning the key and hearing the rumble of the engine. All too often driving became a headache, with the traffic jams, bad drivers and ever ballooning gas prices. Don’t get me wrong; I do not miss any of those aspects of being a motorist. It’s just than when I think back to those first few months of driving in that first car, I miss it.
            Back then I used to drive just for the hell of it. It’s kind of funny how enjoyable it was to load up the old 626 with a few friends on a Friday night and just cruise around. Throwing on some good tunes (well they seemed good at the time) and driving around looking for other young people to interact with. Maybe stop for a slurpee then jump back in the whip to roll around and talk about nonsense and girls and stupid school and girls and sports stuff and girls and tell crude jokes and yell out the window at strangers and punch each other in the arm, all the while thinking we were swinging dicks. But in truth we were just another rowdy car full of awful awful teenagers.
            It wasn’t just weekend nights either. There was the first summer of driving and cruising with the windows down on a hot day. All the days of what seemed like the best choice, cranking a little Fog Hat and slowly rolling past the beach to gawk at the ladies and continue to yell crude comments out the window and punch each other in the arm and generally be dreadful human beings. But every so often things would work out and we’d spot a bevy of beauties. Convince them to hop in the car and head off somewheres.
            And then there were some nights when I would just hop in the car by myself and drive around, simply for the pleasure of driving. It’s that simplest of pleasures that was lost and which I miss. Also, now that adulthood has happened and people have grown into their bodies I have no idea how I ever fit eight bodies into the 626 for a cruise.
            So I say to you, if you are fortunate enough to have a car, on your next day of idleness – go for a drive. Damn the gas prices, damn the traffic and damn the environment. Get behind the wheel with no plan and take yourself for a spin. If you’re sick of the city get out of it. If you prefer staying local, then do some rubbernecking along some unfamiliar side streets. Either way, I say pick out your best road tunes, strap yourself into the bubble and relish the ability to drive a car. A tool that doesn’t have to simply be a utility, but a luxury.

Monday, 2 January 2012

A View To Die For: a short story

Morgan Connoly inhaled deeply. The feeling of the breeze on her face had a calming effect. There was a strange sweetness to the salty ocean air. Part of that was due to the bottle of champagne she’d almost finished and partly because she had succeeded. Morgan sat atop a cliff over looking the Pacific. Casually dressed in her comfiest jeans, rolled up to just below the knee and a loose cotton blouse that billowed slightly when the wind gusted.
She closed her eyes and slowly drew another long breath, her fiery red hair dancing lightly in the wind. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt so content. The empty bottle of champagne lying by her side, the last of it filling the flute she loosely held in one hand, resting on her knee. Normally not much of a drinker she felt justified in this heavy indulgence, after all she was celebrating. The last month had been a grind. She had never worked so hard in her life, but today it had all paid off.
She laughed a little to herself over how nervous she had been that morning. It was her big chance to stun all the senior members of the company and she didn’t disappoint. She absolutely killed at her presentation. She had left the board speechless. Morgan was especially proud of how blown away Evan had been; he was the one she most wanted to surprise.
Morgan thought back to when she was first hired. How everyone had told her she wouldn’t cut it. That the corporate world she was entering was a man’s world. That she wasn’t tough enough for it, that she couldn’t handle the cutthroat nature of the business. These types of things Morgan had heard her whole life and she was determined to prove her doubters wrong. It was a struggle.
Being the only female employee not working as a secretary or assistant Morgan had expected to be slightly resented, but she was totally unprepared for the abuse she received. The constant whistles and catcalls from the male department heads. The steady stream of lewd remarks and suggestions she’d be happier at home in the kitchen or on her back in the bedroom. At first she tried to convince herself they were intimidated by her presence and this was all some sort of hazing because she was new. Morgan believed once she showed that she belonged it would all ease up. So she worked hard and her work was top notch, outshining many of the longer serving male employees. But it only got worse.
The remarks only got dirtier with time and the abuse slowly crossed the line from verbal to physical. Suffering the occasional “accidental” collision resulting in a hand on the breast or a pat on the rear end after a meeting followed by a sarcastic “good job, sweet cheeks.” The problems reached their climax when Morgan started being late for meetings or missing them altogether, because she didn’t receive a memo or meeting times were changed at the last minute. This was the worst as it was her work that was now suffering, but she was determined. Morgan was tough. She could handle the taunts and slurs, she worked hard and late to catch up, she could cope with all that. What made it unbearable was all the while Evan watched and did nothing.
Evan was a senior vice-president and her college boyfriend and almost fiancĂ©, Morgan would have accepted his proposal if it weren’t for his demand that she give up her “silly” career plans. He told her with his Dad’s connections he’d soon be making more than enough money, so she could stay home and take care of their children and not worry her pretty head with finance markets, mergers and acquisitions. When she told him she couldn’t live that life, that she had to work for herself and have a career, but loved him and wanted both – he left.
None of that mattered anymore, because after today she would never again suffer the merciless abuse of her co-workers. Her presentation was flawless, her execution perfect. Morgan raised her glass to toast herself. The setting sun giving the champagne the look of liquid fire and as she stared into the golden bubbles she noticed a strange flicker of blue and red.
“I thought they would have found me sooner.” She uttered. “It was awfully nice of them to wait for me to finish my champagne.”
Morgan slowly got to her feet, wobbling slightly due to the effects of the champagne. She turned to face the dozen police vehicles speeding towards her. She was impressed by how many they sent for her.
“Maybe they thought I had help.” She mused. “I guess they didn’t believe one little woman could murder a boardroom full of men by herself.”
Morgan raised her glass in salute to the large group of officers now facing her, guns drawn. Draining the last of her glass Morgan held her arms wide, her blouse fluttering in the wind, her hair swirling about her head. Morgan let the glass slip gently from her hand as she took three steady steps backwards, which was one too many.