The other day I endured an awkward experience at Bluewater Shopping Centre public toilets with an obese man. An experience so incredibly awkward it rendered me speechless. (Still reading? God you’re weird. Or perhaps George Michael.)
I knew he was trouble when he failed to leave the obligatory one urinal gap between me and him – which is such a massive faux pas it led me to suspect that he might’ve been “foreign” in some way. In such close proximity he then struggled desperately to find his penis under his huge gut, groping madly inside his trousers like he’d lost a ferret. Eventually this genital tombola finished and he settled down to “go”. He started. Then stopped. After another awkward pause he managed another squirt (peripheral vision suggested he was either painfully dehydrated, a berrocca addict or just a massive fan of “le creuset”), then another quick jet of wee and so on, stop-start, stop-start, occasionally punctuating his red faced struggle with a victorious “Gah!” and looking for all the world like he was throttling a dwarf. I won’t deny it, I felt for him (not like that), here was a man who couldn’t see his own penis, struggling to make it go. He needed privacy (and perhaps a mirror on a stick). Awkward as this was, it became a whole lot more awkward when without looking round he started talking to me. I told you this was awkward.
Now the rules state that small talk is fine: basically anything that you can respond to with “yeah” is acceptable.
“Glad it’s Friday”
“Cold this morning”
“Wasn’t it a shame about Diana”
These are good examples of urinal small talk. But no. What he said was
“I’m so sorry – what must you think?”
How best to respond to such an odd question?
Luckily there was only one witness to what happened next – a stealth bomber in cubicle 2.
What’s a stealth bomber I hear you ask?
Anyone in a public toilet cubicle who “downs tools” while other people are there, only resuming their “business” once they’re alone again is a stealth bomber. Occasionally (and I’m not proud of this) I pretend to leave public toilets by opening and closing the door, wait for them to start again before whispering “you animal” and then really leaving (Like I said I’m not proud of this). Anyway there was a stealth bomber in trap 2 who I know heard what followed. Of all the things I could have said at this point I believe I picked the worst. The very worst.
“It’s not a biggie is it?”
Time slowed to a crawl. Unable to believe what my mouth had just said I clawed the air trying to snatch it back. Even my intonation was mocking. Things got worse – as he turned towards me (angrily) the handsfree ear piece became visible and the penny dropped that he was on the phone. ON THE PHONE. The bit in my brain that likes to get me into trouble then told my eyes to glance down and sure enough it wasn’t a biggie. Far from it. And as I tried, in slow motion, to tear my gaze upwards away from his micro-dick I was aware that my brain had also conspired to tell my face to look disgusted. Don’t get me wrong – it did look disgusting, I may never eat another cashew for as long as I live.
“What THE FUCK is wrong with you?” is what he said to me (Smugly my brain noted the American accent – told you he was foreign it said unhelpfully).
“Sorry I thought you wanted me……….my attention” – clearly the part of my brain labelled “BIG GAY SUBTEXT MACHINE” was in overdrive at this stage so I put myself away, did up my fly and went over to wash my hands before I said “codpiece” instead of “earpiece” or something. I could see him in the mirror finishing up and apologising to the person on the other end of his phone before coming over to wash his hands at the basin NEXT TO MINE (???!!!??!?!?!)
Like I said. Speech. Less.