Notes for the Fellow in the Next Stall

Hey, guy in the next stall, get a clue!

  • You can stop trying to hide your identity by tucking your shoes behind the bowl: I recognize your Stefano Ricci’s (also your cough), John, from Accounting. No need to be embarrassed by your sounds – we’re all here for the same purpose and, being human, go through the same exercise daily (or, in the case of my father, twice weekly, but for an “executive session” each time, if you catch my drift).
  • next stallYou can also stop trying to impress me with the force of your tinkle – any guy who hasn’t had BPH or a radical prostatectomy can do that. Want to impress me? Skip the asparagus!
  • Oh, I heard that, despite your trying to squeeze it out silently. Now I get why you hoped to stay anonymous. (I saw you eating a bagel with cream cheese in the cafeteria this morning. Are you lactose intolerant? Has anyone suggested you avoid gluten? Definitely have this checked out: despite your best efforts, it sounded like you were giving up the ghost. A loud ghost, like Jacob Marley or Casper.)
  • I can’t believe you didn’t put your iPhone on silent mode –do you really think other stallmates, while doing their business, want to hear your oh-so-clever sound selections for texts (Kesha – “got my drunk text on”), emails (Brittany Spears – “email my heart”) and calls (Adele – “Hello”)? (Are you sure you’re in the right restroom?)
  • You’re kidding me: you’re taking a call while on the pot? I guess anonymity didn’t really mean that much to you. Incidentally, whispering is a giveaway: the caller will know you’re either here or in a library – and how likely that you’re in a library, John from Accounting? (If it’s your fellow pot-boilers you’re trying to protect, don’t worry – one of the few benefits of using a public toilet in the 21st century is overhearing a lewd or lurid phone call. So speak up!)
  • Whoa, I hear you straining again, though you’re trying to mask it with those faux coughs. (They didn’t disguise the flatulence, they won’t cover the grunts.) Add wheat germ or flaxseed to your diet, or go straight to a pharmacy when you leave here and buy some Metamucil.
  • That rustling is also a giveaway. But really, who reads a newspaper while dropping his load in a public restroom? Speaking of loads, try downloading an ebook or news app (or, to lighten up a bit, humortimes or McSweeney’s. Reading them is quieter and less disturbing … unless something cracks you up, which is fine: nothing masks a noisy belly like a noisy belly laugh).
  • Oh wow, again? Remind me to write a note to Janitorial recommending stronger deodorizers for this men’s room. I am glad you stopped pretending you just dropped by to read the Times; but now it sounds like you’re squeezing the last shampoo from the container. Go easy, man, you’re not pushing out a baby and you don’t want anything to burst down there. (This does suggest a more practical use of the newspaper you’re holding: please wave it, fan-like, to disburse the fumes.)
  • When you leave here, don’t forget to wash your hands. I’d ignore this if you’d only stopped by to impress us with your sulfuric urine; but given your day job if you don’t wash I refuse to handle any physical items you’ve touched, even if they’re consistent with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) or consistently rejected accounting principles (CRAP) (a little bathroom humor).
  • Uh-oh, I just recalled another use for newspapers in a lavatory: someone in Janitorial hasn’t replaced the paper rolls. Sorry, but I’ll need you to pass me some.

“John …”

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Howard Zaharoff

Howard Zaharoff

Howard Zaharoff reads (a lot), writes (mostly humor), teaches (occasionally) and practices law (doesn't everyone?). He is the author of "Stump Your Lawyer!" (Chronicle 2007), and his work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Amazing Stories, Computerworld, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, The Annals of Improbable Research and the books Growing Up Jewish (Penguin 1987) and Sex As a Heap of Malfunctioning Rubble (and Further Improbabilities) (Workman 1993), among other places.
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