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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Songs about Paper towels.

Although I seem to have been denying this realization for several years now, I have to finally concede that me, traveling, and awkward bathroom experiences tend to go hand in hand.

First there was the Bangkok woman's washroom debacle of 2001, the Indian, "Oh my god I shouldn't have eaten that," mess of 04' and finally the London "hey I can see your penis" incident of 07'.

Now, I generally tend to avoid awkward experiences if I can, (don't really see the point in them ya know?), but sometimes, they can be a terrifying source of amusement.

Let me start at the beginning.

The day had started like any other in the Northern Territories of Australia. It was a mindlessly hot and hazy morning. I lay sprawled on a metal bench, head loped to the side, tongue listlessly moistening my lips in a futile attempt to sooth over the freshly tiled leather.

“I stink.”

“Yea. Its pretty bad,” confirmed Darran who sat two benches over to my right, “maybe you should think about not being such a dirty bastard.”

“You don’t exactly smell like a bed of roses yourself jackass!” I quipped back, head snapping in his direction.

Although I knew his comment was mostly in jest, I was now very conscious of the exact odor my body was emanating. I concluded, that the stench I exuded lay somewhere in-between ten day old blue cheese and a mayonnaise/egg sandwich that had sat in the sun for too long. Not exactly the things dreams are made of.

It had been 80 hours, 23 minutes and 15 seconds since my last shower and change of clothes. I suspected it would be another ten before I would have my fill of bronze shampoo and soap that smelled like baby powder.

The train life.
How I loathed it.

For the better part of four days, I had been squashed into a seat that was entirely too narrow, and which I suspected had been originally designed for a spineless Oompa Loompa. The fabric of the chairs not only clung to the fibers of my clothing but also oozed their own special brand of rotten perfume. Paying almost quadruple for a first class carriage had never sounded so good.

We had stopped for several hours in the sleepy town of Catherine. Nothing was open, save for the subway which had run out of lettuce. Tummy’s rumbled, tempers remained short, and clothes stinky.

On a side-note, how do operate a successful subway franchise when running out of lettuce is even a feasible option? Like, thats one the main components of a decent subway sandwich. Its the bread to the butter, the cheese to the wine, the blue to the Smurf. Come on Catherine, population of 20,000. Get your shit together. Alas, I digress. Its just that the subway incident affected me much more than it probably should have. Back to the story:

“I have to do something about this,” I said grunting and rising to my feet. “You know, this deodorant spray is a piece of crap too. I mean, when I buy Hollywood Playboy Spray I want to smell like a hollywood playboy damnit, not a dead bovine.”

Darran glanced up from his book and rolled his eyes. My witty comments about body odor had seemed to run its course.

“Ok, Ill be back,” I said as I started my walk to the bathrooms. My initial intention on entering the restrooms were to use its facilities. Just relieve the pot and drop the Cosby kids off at the pool you know? Nothing too out of the ordinary. It was then however, as it often happens with terribly mundane moments, that genius struck.

I had exactly three things at my disposal in that florescent tiled washroom. Paper towels, liquid soap and water. Now, if I didn’t feel so utterly grimy I would never have even considered what I did next, but when your up to bat and the bases are loaded, the rules tend to go flying out the window.

Half considering the possible repercussions of my to be actions, I took off my shirt, shimmied down to my Sportsman boxer briefs, lathered up a paper towel and went to work. I wiped my arms, torso, pits, face and even neck with great vigor. I silently congratulated myself. This was the best idea I had come up with in a while. So simple and utterly foolproof. Why, I wondered, didn’t more people do this? It was at that moment, soapy paper towel firmly pressed underneath my right arm, that a man walked in.

Upon entering the lavatory and seeing me, his step immediately faltered. Fear filled eyes caught mine. He hesitated, not quite sure if he should continue or head back in the direction from which he came. Presumably, he must have decided I wasn’t a major threat for he continued into the bathroom to go about his business. I did notice however that every effort was made to block me from his immediate interpretation of reality.

I on the other hand, continued in my poor man’s sponge bath. I had gone beyond the point of embarrassment and being somewhat clean was too much of a temptation to stop.
Nevertheless, a thought did cross my mind that I subsequently decided to act upon. Call it sleep deprivation, plain pigheadedness, whatever. I decided, that at that moment, it was my duty to restore some normalcy into a situation that desperately required some. My solution? To start humming.

At the first tremble of my lips, the man’s eyes shot up and widened. His movements at the sink became increasing frantic and desperate. Upon observing his actions, I couldn't help but think that perhaps I had overcompensated on my humming skills. Or maybe, just maybe it had something to do with the fact I was slowly humming the tune of Riot Van, naked from the waste up, and wiping myself down with soapy paper towels in the train station bathroom of Catherine, Australia. I’m willing to bet on the latter.

Not paying enough attention to the practice of proper hygiene, the man gave a quick rinse and scurried out through the doors. He reminded me of a cockroach when a light gets turned on in a dark room.

Now finished with my impromptu shower, (and smelling considerably cleaner I might add) I strolled out the door, down the hall and back into the waiting terminal.

I spotted him almost immediately. There he sat, talking feverishly to his wife about his experience. Catching the couples eye, I gave a curt nod and a smug smile suggesting I was very happy in my pine like fragrance. They however, did not return the smile but looked away refusing to even acknowledge my existence. I didn’t mind. For you see, at that moment I was sweat and offensive odor free and I don’t think there remained a more content person in that room than me.

As crazy as this whole experience sounds, this actually did happen to me no less than 2 days ago word for word (almost >.>). I shit you not.

I should have a sitcom about my life. I predict it would be a hit.

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