stand by me, in peter’s bathroom

by briandonahue

There is a door in front of you. An unsuspecting door. It appears to be the same door that lines every hallway at the University of Vermont. Seven feet high, beautiful wood with a hue of orange and red– vertical grains running through it, the occasional knot disrupting that flow. The door appears banal, but those who dare open it inevitably find their heads spin, their skin crawl, and their hair cling to their scalp as sweat begins to shine from their porous forehead.

You remind yourself that it’s just a bathroom and you are overreacting. It can’t be that bad. Besides, you’re afraid that your rectum might undergo cytolysis if it is not relieved of the pressure buildup, and a popped rectum surely is certainly worse than a trip to any bathroom, no matter how bad, right? Wrong. 

You crank the handle, and immediately the musky light from the bathroom spills out into the dark mudroom, revealing the contents of the place in which you will spend the next 60 seconds of your life. It’s like a living hell. No, it is hell, a pit of a million stewing evil spirits compressed into this eight-by-eight prison. Condensation \ starts beading up on your face and neck as a wall of heat envelopes you. You rip your shirt off but it backfires, a larger portion of your skin now vulnerable to the licking heat. 

On your right in the near corner, a curtain graciously secretes beer stains from shower-shotguns of old, that you know, you just know, plaster the fake porcelain walls of the shower. Even if someone made an effort to scrub them away, they would probably be disappointed to find that the white plastic had absorbed enough of those stains to immortalize those explosive, uncooperative beers. 

A sink and a mirror are wedged into the far right corner, and you quickly avert your gaze from the counter surrounding the sink, which is populated by who-fucking-knows-what bottles, none of which are soap, and appears as though someone puked all over it, spread it around with a wad of toilet paper, and left it to dry

There, in the center of it all, is the devil’s throne, where the fiend himself defecates. You grimace as you survey what’s left of a toilet. The first thing you notice is that the cap for the upper tank is completely missing. It’s not even on the floor next to the toilet or anything–it’s just gone. A small chain with a plastic handle is draped over the edge of the tank, seemingly as an alternative to the handle which droops in the permanently flushing position, springiness gone, broken. You see the orange stains that speckle from the water line in the bowl and dissipate up towards where you will soon place your bare ass. You not only smell the fumes, you see them physically wafting up and towards you, riding the gust that is diffusing out of the bathroom. 

You fight the urge to puke, reminding yourself that this is just a bathroom, right? Wrong again. This is hell, remember? You make a mental note to go to Church this Sunday as you tiptoe barefoot on the linoleum and the spare dust and crumbs that coat the floor penetrate your sole, wedging into the callus. You cringe but persevere. Bravery is the greatest virtue– you must finish what you started. 

You lay some toilet paper out on the seat to try to mitigate the damage of your destiny. You aim your derriere at the bowl and make contact with the seat. As you begin what you pray will be a clean, fast shit– you make a mistake. You look up. There, in the mirror, you see yourself: shirtless, sweaty, beet red, taking a shit. Who designed this bathroom so that the toilet that faces a mirror? Is there some wicked architect out there who finds it pleasurable to watch themself dump? What UVM administrator approved this layout? 

You walk up to the sink, careful not to make accidental contact with the repulsive counter. You look into the mirror, every imperfection on your face visible in the bright gloom. You were probably never attractive after all. Self-image shattered, you turn on the water and scan the products at your disposal. You are faced with the unpleasant surprise of being completely and utterly without soap. You just wiped your ass with the university’s shitty toilet paper that breaks apart on your crack, and there’s no soap? Nothing to cleanse the waste that speckles your hands, a stench so strong you wonder if you accidentally tasted it?

You sigh, defeated, and run your hands under the water, scrubbing as hard as you can and vowing to find a bathroom with some soap as soon as you abdicate your mortal reign of this hellhole. As you exit, you’re relieved to find yourself back in a room that is a normal-male-college-student amount of dirty, but deep within the inner-regions of your troubled stomach, you know that some part of you is permanently spoiled, dirtied beyond remedy, immune to decontamination. You know you will carry the stank of this bathroom for the rest of your life. Only a vestige of your former self remains: the dark side of you, the impurity, the sin, that comes inevitably and universally with puberty. Having lived through using Peter’s bathroom, you are a changed person; you have become an adult.

Categories: march 23 2021, reflections

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