What follows is not for the faint of heart. If you’re already a little queasy, turn back now.
Still with me? Okay, good.
This past weekend, I found myself in the bathroom, facing an indelicate dilemma.
I should point out, before telling you anything else, that I am not a person who uses other people’s bathrooms easily. I like my bathroom at home, thank you very much, and I will go to great lengths to avoid using any other. If I’m visiting you and use your toilet, you can rest assured that I have done so only after a long and extended (and usually well-disguised) bout of squirming and debating and soul-searching.
If you ever see me use a public toilet, you may conclude that my situation has progressed to the point that I’m on death’s door.
This little quirk of mine is no big deal when I’m local. When I’m traveling, though — especially, say, when I’m off for a two-week stint in Asia — it can present very real challenges. For discretion’s sake, I will say only that I have my little tricks, that the human body is capable of more than you imagine, and that you do not ever want to come between me and my bathroom during my first half-hour back home.
This weekend, while we were visiting Clyde’s parents, something i ate Friday evening didn’t quite make itself home in my system. As a result, I found myself edging ever closer to the point of using a strange restroom. Eventually, some internal limit was exceeded, and, resigned to my fate, I excused myself from the table.
Minutes later, with certain unmentionable deeds done, I felt much better. As I rose to leave, however, a terrible thing happened — the stuff of nightmares, really.
My treasured Moleskine journal — the notebook into which I pour all my flashes of insight, story fragments, to do lists, and random ideas — flipped out of the back pocket of my jeans and tumbled smack into the middle of the toilet bowl.
And thus, my indelicate dilemma. A Moleskine journal is too bulky to flush down the toilet on a good day, when the bowl is empty and clear — and this, gentle reader, was not the case at the moment.
So what to do? Reach in? Find a fishing tool? Call for Clyde? (I confess, to my great shame, that I considered doing exactly that.) What would you do?
In the end, I overcame my innate prissiness and scooped the notebook out, transferring it immediately to the sink, where I ran scalding hot water over it for a good two minutes.
Incredibly, after the scalding, the notebook was remarkably intact. The Moleskine’s thick pages are somewhat water resistant. The bullet pen I carry dispenses water-resistant ink, so my notes were still completely legible.
By the next morning, the notebook looked almost as good as new. Still, knowing what I know, I cannot bring myself to carry it around, so today, I’ve transcribed all my notes from that notebook to another.
I had planned to file the notebook away for future reference. At this point, though, I think not.