The groans were muffled, albeit still present, through the usually sound proof bathroom door. A sound that seemed to transition from immeasurable pain to improbable gratification echoed through the moist walls of the company bathroom as I entered. I assumed several substantial orcas were submerged somewhere in the depths of the bathroom stalls, bellowing their enduring mating calls. Or a herd of goats had been brought in for a routine office slaughtering. I briefly considered retreat but my bladder ached from several cups of weak coffee prior that morning. I passively glided towards the urinal, the primal urge of relief easily overpowering the suspicion of the unnatural howls resonating from the stall.
As soon as I reached the urinal the sounds ceased…almost immediately as they began and my biggest fear was on the verge of full realization. The beast that had somehow managed its way into a corporate bathroom stall was preparing to emerge. Unquestionably leaving whatever filth it had birthed to ruin the next unsuspecting employee’s day. The looming confrontation with whatever was clawing at the cardboard toilet paper transformed the pace of my urination from hurried to frenzied. There was still the slight possibility of escaping without conflict.
Just as the stream lightened and inevitably stopped, I heard the familiar creak of the stall door. I hastily zipped and spun around with the hope that I could at least be at the sink focusing deeply on drying my hands to avoid any discomforting eye contact. Unfortunately our eyes locked with the intensity of two people who had just suffered a near death experience together. I sheepishly smiled as though I hadn’t heard the several minutes of revolting, barely human cries prior and was met with a pair of judging eyes. As though it was somehow my fault that he was tormented by transcendent constipation.
Following him to the sink, I braced myself for another several seconds of excruciating silence. Then a saving thought…the Cubs had just defeated the Cardinals the previous night and the entire city had been buzzing about it…there was an opportunity for commonality after all. “Big win last night,” I suggested cheerfully. “I don’t like sports,” he replied dryly, his condemning eyes still suggesting I somehow influenced whatever poor diet was causing the blockage. “Neither am I,” I blurted, not taking the time to consider it made absolutely no sense given that I had made the original suggestion. “Not toooooooo…big into that much sports either,” I continued desperately but unsuccessfully trying to fill the silence. Our eyes met again in the mirror, he gazed even deeper with the melancholy eyes of a parent who had just discovered a VHS copy of Backdoor Busty Babes XII hidden strategically in the rarely used family bread maker.
Looking back on the interaction, perhaps it was my fault, maybe I could have done something to help…suggested a preventative daily regimen of probiotic months earlier…slid a laxative under the door…anything…but I did nothing.
We exited in silence, he thinking that I was a person that didn’t like sports and enjoyed being silently scolded in office bathrooms, me knowing that he was a man that disliked sports and presumably had a singular bowel movement monthly. The way those blaming eyes had probed the depths of my soul, I still feel somehow responsible for the anguish suffered that day.