Restroom Orators

November 23, 2009


I was home visiting my parents several months ago and we drove up to my Aunt and Uncle’s house on Lake Erie for a weekend of boating, swimming and, what I thought was going to be, some fun. After we arrived, we all decided on a quick swim before lunch. I de-robed and, for reasons that I did not understand at the time, my mother sized me up with an incredulous stare. “What?” I asked, wondering if I had just broken out in hives. “It’s nothing” she said very calmly and cavalier, “I’ve just never seen you with a belly before.” To this, she simply took off her shirt and dove in the water, leaving me frozen with only a pair of swimming trunks and my apparent Santa Claus belly to protect me.

How cold she had said that to me? Was she on her period and just wanted someone to feel as bloated as she? Whatever the reason, I quickly covered up my bulge and ran into the house.

For my entire life I’ve been rail thin. Growing up, I always had to shop in the slim section of the department store. My doctor even put me on weight gain shakes when I was in high school. They were just Ensure, but he assured me that, if I drank them, I’d gain some weight and finally start filling out like all my classmates. He was wrong. Those dam shakes filled me up so much that I actually lost weight. I spent the years between 15 and 32 weighing the exact same: 145 pounds. I found that, as I got older, my thin frame and waifish look was actually a good thing. When all my dorm mates were gaining the freshman fifteen our first year of college, I sailed through eating whatever I wanted and not gaining a pound. Then, when I came out and realized that being thin was actually a good think when you’re a gay men, I actually used it to my advantage when attracting members of the same sex.

But then, like all good things, my skin-and-bones days came to an end. At first I gained just two pounds. “No problem”, I thought. I’ll just eat a little less. Well, that didn’t work. Soon two pounds turned into five pounds and then five pounds turned into ten. Starting off so thin, I didn’t think that being six feet two inches and weighing 155 pounds was a bad thing, but then my mom had to go and burst my bubble.

Well, as soon as I arrived back home in Atlanta I joined a gym. If my mother, who was supposed to be my biggest fan, had seen it necessary to comment on my ever expanding stomach, I was horrified to think what my friends and co-workers thought. The gym was just blocks from my office so I never had an excuse to not go. I started out just a few times a week, swimming laps until my arms ached. Slowly, much more slowly than the time it took to gain the weight, my Jabba The Hut decreased in mass. That was, until last week.

It was a Monday morning and I was scheduled to run on the treadmill. I arrived at the gym at my usual time and saw all the same people that are always there when I arrive. There’s the anorexic girl that, I swear, would break in two if I tapped her on the shoulder. There’s the 5’-2” guy who would be cute, except that his arms are like 16 inches in diameter and whose 42” chest makes him look like the spokesperson for midget steroids. And there’s the omnipresent girl/boy/thing on the stairmaster. I think he/she/it’s a transexual, but I can’t tell if it’s male to female, female to male, or alien to human. I walked past them all, changed in the locker room and returned to walk my sixty minutes on the treadmill. The workout was good. The music stylings of Lady Gaga or, Goddess Gaga as I like to call her, carried me through those last fifteen minutes when all I wanted to do was jump off that stupid machine, hop in my car and pick up several breakfast value meals and McDonalds. I finished, cleaned off the treadmill and retreated back to the locker room to weigh myself and get ready for work.

They, being the authors of all the fitness books I’ve read, okay skimmed, say that you should always try to go to the bathroom before you weigh yourself. So, I walked into the restroom portion of the locker room, sat down on the toilet and locked the stall door. Everything was going according to plan, when out of the blue I hear “Dude, do you have any toilet paper?” For a second I had a flashback to that episode of Seinfeld when Jami Gertz plays Jerry’s girlfriend and she won’t give Elaine a square of toilet paper in the ladies room. I wanted to say “Sorry, I can’t spare a square”, but I was afraid the person asking was one of the more built and aggressive guys at the gym and we was going to kiss my ass if I didn’t acquiesce to his request. “Sure” I said, and pulled off an adequate amount to toilet paper for any stall emergency. I slid it under the stall and he took it saying “Thanks, man.” I did not answer.

I was always under the impression that talking to someone while they were taking a dump was bad form. Call me old-fashioned or a prude, but I don’t want people to even know that I go number two, let alone talk to me while it’s happening. Bodily functions are a very private thing, and I’ll do anything to keep them that way. But not the guy next to me.

“Have a good workout?” he asks, between his flatulence. “It was okay, I guess.” I said. “I saw you on the treadmill.” he says. How the hell did he know who I was? Was he from Krypton and had x-ray vision? Was this not a gym, but actually a bathhouse with cameras in all the stalls? I started to freak out that my bowel movement was somehow going to end up on and x-rated version of youtube. “I recognize your shoes.” he said. “Oh, right.” I replied as curtly as I could, trying to ward off any other unwanted conversation. “I find the treadmill doesn’t do enough for me. I need a stronger workout.” He replied, oblivious to my desire for privacy and quiet. “You ever lift weights?” he asked. I did not answer, again trying to convey the message that, like chewing gum and talking, I cannot do two things at once. “Dude, you still there?” he asked. Of course I was still there. He could still see my shoes. I hadn’t flushed the toilet. “I’m sorry,” I said “but I’m kinda poop shy. It’s hard for me to go when people are talking to me.” “Totally, dude” the man behind the stall said. “I have to same problem. I’ll stop talking. Have a good shit.”

Have a good shit? Who says that? Guys with a warped sense of personal space, I guess. I tried to take his advice, but the moment had been ruined. I couldn’t do it. I got up, opened the stall and walked to the sink to wash my hands. “Thanks for the toilet paper” my faceless new friend said as I walked out back to the locker room. “You’re welcome” I answered, trying to be polite. “Maybe I can return the favor some day.” he said as I ran out, trying to forget the previous two minutes of my life.

What in the h, e, double hockey sticks made that guy think that it was a good, and accepted idea to talk to someone during a situation like that? Like Tarzon of Greystoke, had he been raised by apes that, not only pooped in public, but used their feces as sporting gear? He didn’t have an accent, so I know he wasn’t European. Europeans don’t seem to have the same privacy hang ups that we have in the United States. Was he pulling a Larry Craig and trying to pick me up? Whatever the reason, I cancelled my membership at the gym the next day and relocated to a facility down the street. Yes, it’s a bit farther away and, yes I have to wake up even earlier in the morning to get there, but I haven’t had anyone try to talk to me in the stall and, from now on, that’s my measure of whether or not I like a gym.

My advice to restroom orators:

-No one wants to talk when they’re, as my brother used to say, dropping off some kids at the pool. There’s a reason why bathroom stalls have doors that latch…we want privacy, so please respect it.

My advice to everyone else:

-If you’re ever in the stall and someone asks you for some toilet paper, take a cue from Jami Gertz’s character on Seinfeld and simply respond “I’m sorry. I just can’t spare a square.” and get on about your business.

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7 Responses to “Restroom Orators”

  1. Jarred Says:

    Michael, you hit a nerve with me. I HATE it when people talk to me in the bathroom. It’s not so bad at the urinal, because it’s a quicker exchange. But the toilet stall is the worst! Oh, and the Seinfelf episode is pretty hillarious at the end, when Elaine runs into the bathroom and steals all the toilet paper and runs out with it.

  2. marsha Says:

    I think you are perfect and do not recall saying anything about your tummy. Most guys would kill for your bod.You brought a tear to my eye thinking I may have hurt your feelings xoxo

    • mnkey75 Says:

      Don’t worry about it, mom. I’m over it. You actually got me to the gym, which is good for my overall health and well being.

  3. Flee Says:

    OMG! That is horrid….I can’t believe that someone would do that to another human. I would have cancelled my membership too!

  4. ryan Says:

    all I have to say is thank god for single user restrooms!


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