Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Eve, 2011

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".

"I know."

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.


  1. It has been a long time since I read something like this. I am thinking maybe Solzhenitsyn's Архипелаг ГУЛАГ, "The Gulag Archipeligo" in the early 80's.

  2. did your son ever comment on his stall neighbor?
    nothing says happy holidays like spending it in the bathroom surrounded by stench and plopping!

  3. Sure, there are sun rises, birthday parties, pets, lots of great things too, but isn't it odd that this is the kind of event that most Americans -- maybe most humans -- can find that they have in common?

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. "...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." Exactly. It's all relative. I think you're on to something with that. The Christmas Spirit Theory of Relativity. Next time I'm not feeling adequately Christmasy I'm going to cover my head with a gallon Ziploc full of fart, rubberband around my neck, and then release myself right in front of a group of carolers. That'll do the trick, I bet.

  5. You left me hanging. Did he ever get to 10????

  6. Pure poetry...

    *slow clap that morphs into the wave and is followed by a standing O*


  7. I know your New Year's Resolution: Don't go to Applebee's.


  8. I'm quite a visual person, and so regret reading this post focused around poopy (which is a compliment as you're very descriptive).

    *thumbs up*

  9. I trust you pushed through the greenish/brown haze to freedom or are you texting from the toidy?
    Always, Queenie

  10. esbboston-thats funny, because when i write, I feel like I am channeling a mixture of Solzhenitsyn and the Captain Underpants guy

    sherilinr-no he didn't, in a moment of rare restraint

    dplblog-waiting for children on the toilet, the great leveler

    steamme-please take pictures when you charge a group of jolly carolers with a plastic bag on your head
    I am just curious.

    marianne-nah,he never made it.

    killer cupcake-deep bow with arm folded pretentiously across stomach

    MOV-yep, thats my life resolution

    Aysh-oh man, this is pretty much all I write about since I am a seven year old idiot. You might want to abandon ship

    john dow williams- where have you been?

  11. I was ever so glad there were no pictures this time.

  12. A very interesting way to describe a crappy christmas ever. Well done

  13. That was great, At least you can find solace in the fact that he was going in the toilet and not in his pants which is what I am still dealing with with my son.

  14. That's lovely - talking joy in the little things is what makes life special.

  15. At least your child was being suitably cute through all of this!

  16. Funny as always, though I would never, (cough) ever (clears throat)deign to write a post about the going ons in a toilet. (Ahem):)

  17. This is my worst nightmare. I probably would've left my kid on the loo and run screaming.

  18. I never thought reading about poop could be so enjoyable - the guy next door was gross - but your son is awesome! Great post:-)

  19. hugo-thank you!

    Unknown-oh yes, that stage is not fun at all

    Julie-it was a very joyful moment

    natasha-thats true, he looked like a little owl perched on the edge of a giant toilet

    lily-I know you wouldn't Lily, and I am ashamed of how I was scraping the gutter here. Next time I will write about the predicative perjoratives ever present in the prose of Proust

    s.stauss-nooo! he might fall in

    lady in red-thanks, since its all I write about, I have to struggle to make it interesting

  20. Hhahahhah, what a pain. Smart kid, foolin' him or taking shortcuts.

    Happy new year!

  21. Oh, been there, and sadly enough suffered that. But my son did not stay quite. He had to mentioned that the person was loud.... As much as I was embarrassed, my little boy made me laugh in a bad situation.

  22. Wow I have to say you're a great writer made me actually think about pooping in Applebee's and I sort of regret it.... But thanks anyway .please go to my website though at

  23. i have already come

  24. So descriptive I can almost smell it myself! Thanks for that;)

  25. Oh my gosh... I can so relate. My son was a forever-goer. Love your writing style. Today was my first visit here and read several posts. FUNNY STUFF!!

  26. As a father of three younguns myself this is an all too real scenario. Hilarious!

  27. You write so well and flowing. Even though you are writing about poop, it's beautiful.

  28. Great post! Brings back many stinky memories of standing in public restrooms waiting for my kids...

  29. And that's why I can no longer bring myself to eat, or crap, at Applebees. Dude, this was the funniest post I've read in easily a month.

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. It's really amazing how you describe the entire event, it really makes the reader feel like he/she is there... amazing and funny post!

  32. I would rather my kid pooped in his pants than to have been put through what sounds like pure anguish. I shall take this post to heart as a warning never to

    A. Take my kid to the restroom.
    B. Eat at Applebees.

    Thank you for your courage.

  33. Gweenbrick, I feel like I'm reading someone's diary when I read your blog. Nobody says it quite like you. And for that I am grateful. I sleep a little better at night knowing there's someone else out there who, like me, is experiencing the bizarre juxtaposition of both the happiest, and the crappiest, time of year in the same moment. Cheers to you.

  34. Happy New Year!
    We just need to know is the video

  35. Hilarious! This really made my day :) Happy New Year!

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  37. People all over the world are crying with one voice who's already here, are ya going?

  38. Who are you talking about people from around the world what?

  39. I wonder what it means you already have. Who did came

  40. All my best stories come from the people I meet in bathrooms. I know that sounds dirty, I wasn't supposed to. Strange things happen in public bathrooms.

  41. This post did not need pictures, and thankfully had none. As other commenters have noted, the writing was more than descriptive enough. Very effective word pictures. Thanks for the laugh and belated congratulations on getting Blog of Note.