Justin Skolnick lives and works in Portland.

You’re a peein’

Originally posted to justin.revision8.com on in Waverly, Iowa

  • Weeks of uric corrosion under the force of malicious streams emptied the pink chemical belly of the once-solid urinal cake. The center, topmost shell collapsed into the newly excavated hollow and finally disintegrated its waferlike self over the next few days. What remained resembled a sliced onion.
  • Of the few urinals I remember from Italy were the first Europe offered to receive my expensive American pee, just off the terminal in Rome’s airport. Americans favor the round scoop, a broad bowl like Duchamp’s fountain — essentially a ceramic diaper which joyfully scoffs at one’s desire to avoid splashes. Rome’s were topheavy and angular, imposing on the chest rather than the thighs. Clearly I was impressed.
  • The forementioned reservoir was peculiar also in its employment of motion-sensors. Though a few restrooms offered the luxurious simplicity of a single phallic pushbutton mechanism — including the pair at my group’s Florentine apartment, of which one we incorrectly assumed broken for an entire week — the majority offered two or three white panels which, despite continual use, I never mastered. Numbers one and two, I assume; the possibility of a number three still boggles me…
  • If one decides to drink anything in Italy, one must remember two things: first, you must pay to pee, so be sure to have correct change at all times; and second, you must allow yourself significant time to locate a public restroom, because a certain misinformed someone taught you to say toilette, and your failed (though creative) pronunciations get you nowhere (because the word appears French and you know less French than Italian) and because, had you considered asking for the bagno, you’d still want desperately to vocalize the g. Oh, a third thing: avoid fountains, as they will only compound your pain and frustration.
  • I followed the staircase from the Piazza Navona bar to a cool cellar. The middle-aged attendant barked until I dropped two American bills into her small basket, at which she was all smiles, Sí, sí, and the like. No sooner had I latched the door than she redirected her tirade to an inert schoolgirl with eyes wideset like a hammerhead shark. The scene has returned in dreams: she yells in English, Leave! Rat! while Hammerhead Girl clutches her book, forever resilient, forever dull.