I was saying something when my captain interrupted me and said, “Would you stop swearing, please?”
Surprised, I said, “Sure.”
One symptom of my NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) is to wildly overreact to the smallest criticism. So, over the next few minutes, I was angry. So much so that I couldn’t pay any attention to what we were talking about. (Part of the reason I’m opposed to one of our presidential candidates is that I have the same NPD he does, just without the big inheritance from daddy. We have met the enemy and he is us, as Pogo would say. I wouldn’t want me in the White House, would you?)
He was stepping on my First Amendment rights. But, attempting to act older and wiser, I tried to figure out precisely why I was upset. Over the next few hours I admitted to myself that I salted my language with gratuitous amounts of profanity. This, in turn, watered down the value of each curse. So, as a matter of artistic integrity, I turned it off.
Meanwhile, the obese captain regaled me with churchgoing tales and plagiarized, misogynistic, mildly racist comedy routines in his southern accent. I considered the possibility that hypocrisy was what bothered me. Nah, that couldn’t be it. I mean, the jokes were offensive, sure, but there was no swearing. Profanity can only be an individual word. A whole lifestyle or personality can’t be profane, can it? Anyway, I tried to imitate my cuss-free captain. I felt like Job in the right seat, to use a biblical example.
We reached détente and ended up in Vancouver. Vancouver is my favorite layover for running. It’s like an imagined future in a science fiction novel. Clean. There’s always a hockey game on the TV. Vaguely familiar, but not quite right. Maybe it’s the French on the bilingual signs. Anyway, it’s nice. Canada. Nice. Not, Minnesota Nice, but still.
So I ran in the sunshine, leaves springing forth. My anger hangover from speaking without mustard was gone. Hey, there’s a Canada goose. In Canada it’s just a goose. Ha Ha, what a nice day. I ran past a cool sculpture that looked like a mashup of one of those rubber-band planes you had as a kid. Wow, these are nice big trees on the Tatlow Trail. All of this is at the end of a peninsula that the city calls Stanley Park.
I stumbled out to the west coast of the park and my 20-second clock started. This happens more than I like to admit. It usually happens when I’m running in the morning. It’s a countdown, like for a NASA moonshot, except in a bad way. Luckily, there was a building. I turned the corner of the building with 10 seconds to go. There’s a restroom, thank goodness. It was early, so I hoped it was unlocked. It was. Final countdown. I dove into the stall and slammed the door. Blastoff.
I was feeling happy and relieved. I saw the feet under the partition next to me. In a great mood, I gave a courtesy flush. The flushing kept going so much that I thought the handle was stuck, but it was just oddly long.
Immediately after the flushing stopped, the guy next to me said, “Would you flush please?”
Surprised, I said, “Sure.”
First of all, there’s no talking. Second, I just gave the guy a courtesy flush. I don’t think my sphincter was even shut yet, and this dude was telling me what to do in my own crapper. I thought I had more to do, but it was over. My rage must’ve squeezed the rest of my internal organic matter into diamonds.
As I washed my hands at the sink, I counterattacked the stranger still in his stall.
“I wiped my ass four times. I hope that was enough for you.”
He responded in a jovial accent that sounded vaguely like a European MTV host. I never saw the guy, but I imagined a white guy with dreadlocks. “Welcome to Vancouver, man. It detoxifies you!” Completely unfazed.
I shook my head so hard, people probably thought I was Katharine Hepburn.
I ran out into the morning sun, where my missing foul mood waited for me.
I finally have a response for this strange and irritating week: Hey, World. Watch your own fucking bobber.
Goddamn, I feel better. Like I’m detoxified. Thanks.