I am in the bathroom stall of an Applebees, standing over a five year old boy who is seated on the toilet.
My food which I don't even want to eat is getting colder, more congealed.
"Are you done?" I ask him.
He has been chattering on about toilet paper rolls, how the one at the restaurant is substantially bigger than the one at home.
Without pausing for breath, he answers my question.
"Five more-no, ten more poops." Ten fingers held up.
I sigh and lean against the door of the stall, but quickly jerk back upright, recalling to mind the long cavalcade of people I have seen smear feces on stall doors and walls: special education students, homeless people at the library, my own two children.
Most of them don't mean it, it's just details, and none of them are too keen on details.
I hear the bathroom door swing open.
Shuffling footsteps bring an occupant into the stall next to ours.
Beneath the divider I see a large foot stuffed into a white tennis shoe fit with an orthopedic heel.
Trousers hit the floor, and the toilet creaks under what must be substantial girth.
As slow as this stranger entered the bathroom, internally they must have been in considerable hurry, if one were to infer such things from the sounds of instant, violent explosion.
I brace myself for my son to make comment, but he is straining under the impetus of his own mission.
A tiny plop from beneath him and he looks up at me without smiling.
"That's one. I said ten".
The next stall over has become an orchestra of the body and its openings; rumblings, squeaks, the unmistakable honk of a one nostril open, one nostril held shut expulsion.
I think of how a team from the CDC should really go in there to clean it when all is said and done, as opposed to the poorly prepared young man from Mexico who will really get assigned the task.
You can imagine the assault of smells that were now arrayed against me, so I will not belabor it.
Just know that all of them were bad, and none of them seemed like Christmas.
My son releases a trickle of pee and I am hopeful.
"Done?" I ask.
He shakes his head slowly, almost sadly, "No Daddy, that was pee. It doesn't count."
If I could have looked out a window from where I was, I would have seen a dull landscape of grey and brown, utterly devoid of the snow so beloved of the season, barren of any hint of the Yule joy we are all now supposed to feel.
I would have opened that window and frantically windmilled my arms to clear that bathroom of all that was evil in it, and the cold cleansing air that would have rushed in would have been as childishly exciting, as stimulating to the senses, as a light snowfall on Christmas Eve.