Reflections From The Front Porch
Toilet Paper and Shoes
Written by Darrell Anderson.
More than three decades ago, during my senior year in high school, my classmate Thomas and I were sitting in the school foyer during a free period, lazily studying and chatting. During that period, Thomas rose to head for the rest room. A few moments later, nature prevailed and I too did likewise, having forgotten that Thomas was using the same facilities. As I was leaving the rest room, I remembered Thomas being in the room and as the two of us were the only ones in attendance, I easily determined his whereabouts.
That particular year in school many of us boys participated in a weird custom. Occasionally we soaked a large wad of toilet paper in water and then, with delicate skill, hurled the sopping wad against the ceiling, creating quite a splash underneath for the unfortunate victim of this amusement. As the old adage goes, “Boys will be boys!”
I carefully and devotedly soaked a wad of paper. I prepared to throw the wad directly above the stall where Thomas was sitting, who was, of course, pleasantly minding his own business. The throwing angle was awkward because of the stall door and my not wanting to be too near such that he would see my shoes or shadow. The art of throwing sopping wads of toilet paper had taught me that too steep of a throwing angle and the resulting splash would uselessly fall far behind Thomas. However, at the last moment, for no known reason I can fathom, I abruptly changed my mind. I reached over the stall door and merely flipped the wad into Thomas’s lap.
Unbeknownst to me, Thomas was at that very moment bending over to, um, shall we say, finish his duties. My wad of soaked toilet paper sailed perfectly into the toilet bowl. Kerplunk!
As can be imagined, and with the stall door closed that was all I could do, Thomas’s bottom was effectively splattered and he was, to say the least, inconveniently startled. So much so, that while in his crouched position I could hear him smashing headfirst into the stall door.
I returned to the foyer to my books. At that point studying was hopeless and I waited for Thomas’s return. A few moments later Thomas appeared and offered me that classic sheepish grin acknowledging my triumph. He feebly threw a small soaked wad of toilet paper at me and, of course, missed. The wad became a temporary decoration on the foyer trophy case.
To this day I continue to laugh when reminiscing about the moment. Perhaps because I could not directly witness Thomas’s reaction and possessing only my imagination helps render the story so much more enjoyable. Yet, strangely, this story continues.
Approximately five years later I was attending a vocational school. During one study period I shared my story about Thomas with my friend Jim. Of course, as befits what was to become an ageless story, I embraced my opportunity to embellish the story as best I could. Jim thought the entire tale hilarious. Later in the study period I absentmindedly told Jim I had “important business” to attend and departed to relieve myself.
As I walked the hallway toward my objective, I bumped into an acquaintance who I had not seen in about a year. Mutually surprised, we exchanged hellos and chatted for several minutes. Eventually, Jim came meandering through the same hallway. Jim silently joined our conversation. At that moment I subconsciously noticed but paid no attention to a Cheshire Cat grin on his face. As the conversation drew to a close, I said good-bye to the acquaintance and then mumbled something about my never having accomplished my original mission of relieving myself.
Instantly Jim stopped smiling. I’m unsure after all these years, but I think his face turned a shade whiter. He looked at me quizzically and then stammered, “You mean — you mean you haven’t gone?!”
I had no idea to what he was blabbering. A micro-moment later I recalled having mentioned to Jim my reason for leaving study hall.
“Nope. I hadn’t seen So-and-So in about a year. We both were surprised to see each other and I stopped to chat. But now I really have to go. Excuse me!”
As I turned to depart I heard Jim gasp. I turned to look at him.
His shoulders were noticeably drooped as in utter defeat. “But those were your shoes!” he uttered desperately.
For a short moment, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out to what he was referring. Then suddenly I remembered my story about Thomas. I howled with laughter when I realized Jim had no idea who he had visited to recreate my story of five years ago.
We never did discover the unfortunate victim — nor did we try!
Next: The Sounds of Silence