Monday, February 7, 2011


In my house, my place of escape, refuge, privacy, contemplation and uninterrupted reading is on the toilet.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going and I go to the bathroom.   

Excuse me, I’ll say!  I have to go sit for awhile!  

How can anyone object?    

I keep piles of books, periodicals and extra pairs of reading glasses in the bathroom.   Better not to be caught unprepared and have to go back out.   I like magazine articles and short stories.  Both time out well.  Novels are too long and so would increase the risk of hemorrhoids.   Poems aren’t nearly long enough and besides, I’d rather not fall asleep with my pants around my ankles.

Cell phones are barred.   To make phone calls to other people from the toilet seems oddly disrespectful – unless they’re movie agents – and not having a cell phone allows you to not answer any phone, at any time,  anywhere else in the house.    Which is important as I work at home.

“I was calling you all morning”, my wife will say.  

“I was on the toilet”, I’ll say.  “I couldn’t get up”.

I think a lot when I’m on the throne.   I think a lot of men do.    Rodin’s The Thinker is obviously a man contemplating his lost youth while taking a quiet crap.    Take a look some time.

I think about what I’m working on.  I think about all the mistakes I’m making with my life and I’ll vow to correct them.   I think about what I’m reading. 

Unless the dogs find me, it’s a pleasant time.

It goes without saying I despise any bathroom that is not my own; especially those that demand you put down a protective paper shield on the seat.

Edvard Munch’s The Scream is obviously based on a man stuck in an airport who’s bowels have begun rumbling.  He races to the men’s room, pushes past other travelers, desperately pulls open a stall door and finds himself face to face with a urine stained floor, strewn toilet paper and a bowl of unflushed grumpies.   Don’t believe me?  Take a look.

I could be mistaken.  It could be a gas station.   Or a baseball stadium.  Regardless, it’s not a place one wants to linger, let alone read.

“When I married you”, my wife will say, “I didn’t realize I was marrying a man who goes to the bathroom six times a day”.    

To which I will not reply – (I’m not entirely stupid) – I didn’t go to the bathroom six times a day until I was married.  Before marriage and parenthood,  I did my reading, thinking and contemplating in a comfortable chair out in the open.  No one bothered me.  Or needed help with their homework.  No one wanted to have a conversation about their feelings.   Or needed me to run to the store for doggie chow.   But now, like a poor hunted animal, I must stick to the shadows!  I must retreat to the glens of the deep forest!

My non-replies are always quite melodramatic.

Don’t fall in, my wife will say!  Sarcasm does not become her.

I won’t.   I’ve had a lot of practice.

Men live lives of quiet desperation.

1 comment:

  1. Steve, What you do is what every preacher means to do: illuminate times and issues of significance that everyone wonders if they are the only one to ever experience them (that compute?).

    My wife, who considers subtlety a cover for cowardice, if not the semi-polite version of lying, loves to walk by the bathroom and comment in what I could have eaten last night that is so fouling our small nest.

    "OMG," she'll shout, "have you sprayed?"

    I prefer poetry in the bathroom, especially, appropriately, of the scatological variety.

    In California in the winter we live in a tiny apartment with one bathroom. Which is why I shower and – when I can time it – do my business at the club. In Vermont I have my own bathroom. That it is in the barn, a separate but connected) building from the house, requiring the ascent of fifteen stairs, is a cost I am more than willing to pay for the privacy.

    I am so glad you are excising the "quiet" from desperate men's lives.