In the men’s bathroom on the fifth floor of Breckridge Hall, a pair of black sweatpants are around the ankles of two sandal-clad feet sticking out from under the privacy divider in the last of a row of toilets against the East wall, opposite from the mirror and the line of sinks where I squeeze a globule of toothpaste on my white, red and blue toothbrush. This is the kind of toothbrush a race car driver would use. I know that because there was a picture of a race car on the box, it’s driver flashing a white toothy smile. My toothpaste promises whitening effects, noticeable after two weeks of constant and controlled use, but I’m not buying it, not anymore. This is the same toothpaste I’ve used for months now. I smile big, my lips tightening, any bigger and my flesh would tear. My teeth, off-white, eggshell, cream like carpeted walls in a waiting room, are not pleasing. In the mirror, I watch as the sandaled feet cross and then uncross themselves, their owner obviously deciding which position is easier to expel waste from. The feet have been here longer than I have, I know that for a fact; I can not place them, build a body up around them, give them legs, knees, a waist, a torso, a face, a name.
I will outlast them, then; it is my only choice. I will bide my time, brush slowly, deliberately, meticulously, while the feet do their business, and when the time is right, the door will swing open, and two feet, lopped off at the ankles, will march around the bathroom, pausing for a brief moment's reflection at the wall before stomping their way, sweatpants and all, up the wall, right on to the ceiling. They will stay on the ceiling for quite some time, becoming a bother, a nuisance, there’s footprints all over the ceiling, until maintenance is called, and a burly man with a name like Cassidy or George or something exotic will prod at the feet with a broom handle, and, being prodded, the left foot will fall, listless, to the cold hard tile. The other will turn desperate and, defying gravity, hop around the ceiling forever, one foot alone in this crazy upside down dream-swallowing world where even feet can be alone.
The bathroom is silent, save for the swish-swash of the brush against my teeth. Brush brush brush, spit. The white foam thwaps against the porcelain sink, spreading out and around the point of impact before gravity takes hold and it begins trickling towards the drain, open and inviting and mysterious. The feet are silent, have been this whole time, a purposeful, intentional, breath-holding silence. The feet owner knows I’m here, he must. There hasn’t been any responsive action on the feet’s part. Maybe he’s waiting me out. He’s in there, craning his neck, listening to me brush my teeth and shuffle around the bathroom, trying to outlast me, to avoid the sink rendezvous. Would we make eye contact, perhaps nod? Maybe I would smile, a smile that said “Yes, brother, I have shat here too, and I sympathize with your post-bowel movement shame, but do not worry, have heart, for we are all God’s creatures, and even now, even here, as you shat your sandal-clad shit, and I brushed like a race car driver, He has smiled down on us, given me you and you me, and together we have gotten through this.”
My mouth is minty fresh, my teeth no longer slimy but still mayonnaise-colored, so I turn on the sink, drag my race car brush through the water, watch as the white foam runs from the bristles and spirals down into the drain. I am done; the feet are not. Oh well. I give in, for the feet’s sake, to save us both the trouble. Perhaps another time, feet, I would have stayed here, given you a face and a name, taken you out to lunch, played soccer and kick ball. I could lovingly tie your shoes, and together we could run in slow motion through bright green meadows, the sun shining down on all God’s creatures. But not today. You have won this time, feet, but the next time won’t be so easy.