Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I looked up at the muraled ceiling and the one-piece crown molding that spanned the length of the room from door to back wall. I scanned it inch by inch, expecting to find evidence of a seam, but the piece hadn’t been cut. It hadn’t ever been cut. Such a long section of crown molding, especially with the sort of detail routed into this one, is an expensive proposition. When top-corners of walls catch your eye, as they tend to do mine, the seams are the first thing you notice. There’s always a seam because nobody – nobody short of an egomaniacal North Shore lawyer with a vendetta against gravity – wants to spend that kind of money just to make the trappings of one’s bathroom pass the visual inspection of a neurotic bouncer who has trouble taking leaks.

For sufferers of bashful kidney syndrome, nightclub bathrooms are the big leagues. They’re places you don’t want to be when you have to do what you have to do. This is because there’s too much noise, and too many people, and your mind tends to shift into an poorly timed state of hyperfocus which, while helpful in most everyday tasks, prevents the shy bladder from functioning at optimal levels – if at all.

The key is to somehow get your mind off your immediate situation. The less you think about the act of taking a leak, the more likely you are to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time. Bashful kidney has little to do with confidence. It’s not about size, or girth, or the fact that you’ve been walking around with moth balls in your drawers for the past six months. Nobody in the bathroom gives a shit about any of that, I can assure you. Problems arise when you concentrate too hard. You end up wanting to finish the thing so badly that you unwittingly will yourself not to do it.

The people alongside you don’t help matters, either. They do stupid things. They shout at each other and at nothing at all. They’ve succumbed to the cancerous yearning for attention that pervades all things here in New York, so they’ll produce truckloads of excessive noise and bother the living shit out of everyone within earshot. This helps nobody. If you’re standing in line at a bank of urinals and your bladder’s about to burst, what sense does it make to scream and yell and stanch the flow of half the people you’re hoping to hurry along?

I think about things like this and I have to stop myself from asking questions. I know I can’t ask, because people are generally incapable of taking the extra logical step necessary to understand that what they’re doing is counterproductive. We have a name for people who don’t possess the ability to think one move ahead of the game. They’re called assholes. Only an asshole thinks he can get someone to urinate faster by shouting at them. I’ve found that this behavior takes place most frequently at Yankee games and at nightclubs – places where, coincidentally enough, assholes tend to flock in droves.

Say what you will about Guidos – and I have – but I’ll give the sons of bitches their share of credit. I don’t know how they do it. I’ll stand at a urinal in an empty club bathroom before my shift begins, and I’ll know I’m somewhere I don’t belong. I can’t piss in places like this. Never could. I suppose it’s a skill I’d eventually be able to cultivate, but asking me to deliver in a place like this is the ultimate in losing propositions because I simply haven’t trained for it. I couldn’t imagine being asked to perform, piss after piss, night after night, in an environment like that. It’s not conducive to urinary success. I fail to associate nightclub bathrooms, at least when they’re packed to the rafters with screaming juiceheads, with anything even remotely approaching the concept of flow.

So what I do, even when I’m alone, is study crown molding. I think about miter boxes and coping saws and cornices and soffits and anything else I can possibly think about to keep my mind off the starting of the stream. I used to work math problems in my head. Sometimes my lips would move while I did this. For whatever reason, the number eight was always magical for me. I’d go up the chain, eight steps at a time, multiplying things out until I’d accomplished what I’d come for. By the time I’d hit one-twenty-eight, I’d invariably be done. This idea, however, was hardly asshole-proof and proved a miserable failure at deflecting assholes’ incessant attempts to penetrate the collective consciousness of everyone along the wall.

I avoid such scenes now. There are ways around it. At work, I use the employee bathrooms. If I’m ever in a club, I’ll throw a bouncer a few bucks to use his. If I’m at a baseball game, I’ll take my leaks during play – as opposed to joining the mass exodus up the stairs after the bottom of an inning. You miss less of the game that way simply because you won’t be spending as much time waiting in line.

Best of all, you miss the shrieking Guidos and their phat gold chains.