Travels 24: Theological Debate Rages in Men’s Room Stall

I’ve always been interested in what guys write on bathroom walls.  There’s a particular sub-culture of public rest room users who feel the need to express themselves with markers, pens or the sharp edge of a jack-knife.  Remember, my interest began in days when guys didn’t have Twitter or Facebook to argue their many points of view.  Back in the ’60s or ’70s, a sociologist, Norton Mockridge, actually published a book of his own collection of bathroom graffiti.  The book was called “The Scrawl of the Wild”.  You can find a copy on Amazon.

My own favorite, one that I spotted on a wall in the mens room of a Juneau bar back in the ’70s read:  “Years From Now, Centuries Will Pass”, or, something I saw in college: “I would rather get herpes than listen to the freaking Eagles”.

Don’t you just love it?  Well, I do.

I’ve also noted that over the years, the tone and subject matter of bathroom graffiti has changed.  When I first began to note these scribbles, a great deal of space was devoted to items like: “For a good time call Judy” or “Do you have any nude pictures of your mother? No? Then I’ll sell you a few”.  In the late ’60s, the tone of writings turned political and End the war was seen everywhere.

Restroom philosophy changes with the times, I guess.

Then, recently, I’ve noted a strange shift in wall content.  It’s turned religious.  At first it was quite basic, things like “Jesus Saves” and “Repent”.

When I read “God sees everything you do”, I became nervous and looked over my shoulder several times.

Recently, on my journey back home from the West, I began to notice that a larger more serious dialogue was beginning.

I went into the stall for the privacy it offered,  (Security cameras are everywhere these days) and noticed some scratching on the toilet paper dispenser.  Normally, that’s par for the course but as I read I felt I was somehow a witness to serious minds tackling serious issues.

It made me think; did I really know Jesus?

I went back to the car and grabbed my cell phone/camera.  I went back into the same stall to obtain a picture of the evidence of this debate.  After all, who would believe me about this if I couldn’t back it up with photos.  As I snapped several views, I realized that the flash was going off.  I paused.  What if someone, or God forbid, a father and son, were standing at the urinals and noticing a camera’s flash operate in a stall?

I stopped and listened.  Silence.  I unlatched the door and cracked it open.  I peeked out to look for witnesses.  The room was empty.  But wait, maybe the father and son had come in, seen the flash, and hurried to the tourist counter across the hall to report deviant behavior in the men’s room.  I pulled my shirt over my face and went in to the tourist section.  My wife was speaking with one of the volunteers about a route around the next city.  I grabbed her arm and pulled her away in mid-question, out the door and toward the car.

There’s a pervert somewhere in the building, I said to her somewhat loudly.  I wanted others to hear so that the finger of blame would be pointed at someone else if it came down to a court appearance.

We drove off as fast as a Ford Escape could carry an R-Pod.  In a few minutes we were speeding (?) along I-40.

I checked the rear-view mirror to see if there were any cars in pursuit.  Nothing.

Two miles later, something occurred to me.  I had forgotten to go to the bathroom.

So, with a full bladder, I looked for a place to pull over…a place with rocks, tall grass or trees.

Then I remembered the rattlesnake warning signs at an earlier rest area.

For me, the theological debate was over.  If there was a God, and he/she truly loved and cared for me…none of this would have happened.


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