There’s a moment where I’m sitting in the bathroom, doing my thing, and I think that it isn’t going to happen this time. That through some act of magical thought transference the entire floor now gets it, finally gets it after months of having to declare that yes, I exist and I am in here taking a crud, please stop trying open door. Then that moment is gone as fast as I managed to conjure it as the handle shakes and someone on the other side attempts to force themselves into the room. The handle rattles in bursts of threes, three times; each burst increasing in vigour as if the person is initially confused that this door that has opened for them before is no longer doing so and that confusion gradually shifts into rage that things are not as they once were. This is all total mongoloid shoot first, Q&A after logic. If they had just knocked they would’ve known I was mid-crud. What if I’d forgot to lock it and they barged right in on my butt-business? I feel stupid for even having to say “occupied.” I should ask Mrs. K. if she can send out a floor-wide memo about this or something.
“Occupied.” Obviously it’s occupied. It’s always fuckin’ occupied. Nearly everyday I gotta crawl onto my counter and take a leak out the kitchen window while the little Asian guy in the next building stares at my pissing prick because it’s “occupied.” What is this floundering fuckhole doing in there? Farmin’ hemorrhoids? I hope to god we get the Robertson contract so I can afford to live in a place with its own goddamn bathroom. Is there a legal amount of time a person is allowed to dump in a shared pisser for? I should ask Mrs. K.
There he is again. He is defiant in his actions. He looks into my eyes as he relieves himself, challenging me. I am not upset by what he does but I will not back down and look away. He kneels in the sink as his member draws yellow arcs in the night air. He bumps the faucet as he shakes it dry, turning it on, soaking himself.
We were having a fine time at the beach. The sun was hot as it ever was, the waves moved up and down like they were giving the sand a prolonged deep tissue massage, and we lay on old blankets talking in incredulous tones about actors or musicians or politicians that had publicly transgressed in a tabloid media type of way. “How about that one congressman or senator or some other type of governmental representative type that keeps getting caught eating toothpaste before parliamentary sessions? How weird is that? It’s pretty weird.” It was a little weird, especially considering that the tabloids somehow kept getting photos of the congressman/senator/some other type of governmental representative alone at the desk in their office, eating toothpaste, from an angle that one could easily surmise was taken from the camera built into a laptop that would usually be sitting in that sort of position on a desk like that.
“Don’t you think it’s strange that we know more about the type of toothpaste the congressman/senator/some other type of governmental representative eats before parliamentary sessions than we do about what exactly the congressman/senator/some other type of governmental representative is doing in those parliamentary sessions?” Someone asked. It was silent until the waves started moving up and down again. “Yeah, but they eat, like, half the tube, and it’s Arm and Hammer! Who uses, never mind eats, Arm and Hammer toothpaste! That’s so weird!”
It’s not that anything was lost in translation, there wasn’t any translation to begin with. He pulled at his beard and spoke at a frenetic pace which didn’t slow even when we tried to tell him that we didn’t speak French. We wished we did, because by the way his face twisted and his hands carved the air as strings of unintelligible sentences piled out of his mouth, whatever he was trying to express seemed important.
Then “airplane.” The first english word we could pick out of his verbal slurry. I repeated it. He repeated it back. He laughed. We laughed. We’d made a connection, and even though it was only two syllables, it felt special. Airplane, he said again. Airplane, we said back, laughing. With one word we’d overcome a great divide. Then he took one fist and drove it into the other, hands opening dramatically on impact, his eyes wide: an explosion. He looked around the park. Silhouettes of people drinking in the humid summer night dotted the grassy hill opposite ours. Then another english word: terrorist. He whispered it and brought his fists together again, the explosion bigger this time, spittle flying from his lips like debris.
9/11? I said, cringing as I pieced what he was doing together. His face lit up and he laughed, slapping his fists together over and over, each explosion making us shrink further into ourselves. We’d been unwittingly laughing at and humouring what was likely a Francophone conspiracy theory, or worse, and the man was overjoyed. We stood up and he started to shout. I traced a line from my crotch to the ground, my hand exploding as it reached the grass. He nodded.
The voucher was good for one meal in any restaurant in any Canadian airport for an entire year. Printed on the same paper stock as the plane ticket, I shuffled one in front of the other like it was the set-up to a card trick. A large group of Chinese children wearing a uniform of some sort hovered over their smartphones, vouchers in hand, bumping into each other playfully as they waited. Our flight had been delayed thanks to mechanical issues and the vouchers were Air Canada’s penance for us having to wait.
The elderly couple next to me were taken with the kids. “It can’t be a table tennis team, there’s just too many of them.” The woman said to her husband. He nodded and looked to be doing the math in his head. She leaned over to me and pointed at one of the young boys; the arms of his glasses were missing, replaced with pieces of string that were tied around his ears, small knots dangling like earrings. “Those Asians are so inventive, huh?” I looked at my voucher and wondered if the Whitehorse airport had any good eats.
During their final embrace––I assumed it was their final embrace, due to her tears and all––she held onto him like they were falling out of an airplane and he was the only one with a parachute. There were tears coming out of his face as well, but not at the same volume as hers. It seemed like he was crying only because she was, like how you yawn when you see someone else yawn, or laugh while watching the 2008 romantic comedy Gold Rush in the theatre on a first date; not because Mathew McConaughey and Kate Hudson are funny in it, because they are most certainly not, but because your date is laughing and you think if you laugh too that she’ll think you find the same things funny and that you’re on the level.
She burrowed her face into his shoulder and said things that probably related to how this was likely their final embrace. He nodded as she talked and cried. There was a Starbucks coffee and iPhone in his hand and as he looked over her shoulder to check the phone, the cup tipped and coffee dribbled to the ground.
The large sunglasses on her face made it difficult to tell whether they were tears of happiness or tears of unhappiness. Her friend seemed to be consoling her but wasn’t saying things like “it’ll be okay” or “I’m so sorry,” which was making it even more difficult to tell if she was upset or not. The fact that she was standing in front of the clinic (I mean, like standing right in front of it and totally blocking my way in) made it trickier still. Did she just get a terrible/terrific diagnosis? Was she pregnant, yay! Or pregnant, nay! What if she was just diagnosed with a disease of perpetual weeping and now she was weeping tears of happiness because she finally knew why she was always weeping at things that didn’t usually make here weep, like dog food commercials or airplanes filling the sky with the sound of their weary engines as they returned home. I kinda hoped it was the latter, but also hoped she would get out of the way, I was going to be late.
The boy squatted in the grass, elbows on his knees, head in his hands, sobbing. A girl, younger than he, watched confused. She threw her hands in the air as if to say “what’s wrong with you, boy?” She patted him on the head but he continued to sob. She babbled to him in toddler tongue and got nothing. She spun in circles like she was trying to catch the answer to whatever it was that would make the boy stop crying. Finally she pulled up handfuls of grass and dropped them on his head. He wailed as the blades flittered down his face.
I try to consider it as reclaimed. Reformed. Reeducated. When I found it it wasn’t on a good path but that’s not its fault, it was merely a product of its environment. That environment technically being the factory in China that mass produced it and then slapped the GOP elephant logo on it. Initially I felt like a traitor to my entire system of beliefs when I tried the hat on at the second-hand store. Before I tore the logo off I could hear whispers of socially stunted Republican policies and smell the vile, ignorant rhetoric wafting up from our southern border as I looked in the mirror. But as repulsed as I was, I really needed a new hat, and this one was––shudder––a great fit.