Like most people, I use the same restroom at work every day. It becomes a refuge where you are safe from the demands of middle management, or that guy in the cube next to you who’s been talking loudly to his realtor for the last hour and yet your supervisor doesn’t seem to notice, but let you try and make one personal call and—
But I digress. Getting back to the point, you tend to get pretty familiar with that restroom. Sometimes you get so familiar with it, you can actually track the appearance of new graffiti.
There’s a graffito (that’s the singular of “graffiti,” apparently) in my restroom that I’ve watched grow over the last couple of weeks. It’s an interesting process. Stephen King has already written a short story about restroom graffiti—I can’t remember the title off the top of my head—so rather than fictionalize it, I thought I’d chronicle its epic story (because I know that you, dear reader, would like nothing better than to read a lengthy account of restroom vandalism).
I work at a small art college, so it’s not surprising that the graffiti in the restroom can be quite sophisticated. This particular graffito began as an image of a naked man sitting on the throne, his hand wrapped around his unmentionable. It’s a troubling image, mainly for its implications: is this an autobiographical snapshot of a previous visitor? Perhaps someone that was here just moments before me?
The image remained unmolested (ahem) for a few days until someone added the puzzling statement, “WELL IF THIS ISN’T GAY” with an arrow pointing to the reclining man. There was no question mark in sight. I didn’t know what to make of this phrase. Why the “well”? The statement seemed to beg for a second clause; “If this isn’t gay, I don’t know what is” or something to that effect.
Now things began to get weird (yes, now). Some liberal-minded scribe crossed out “GAY” and wrote “GOLF.” “WELL IF THIS ISN’T GOLF.” Golf? I couldn’t figure out where this fellow was coming from, unless he was making some sort of comment on their original artist’s drawing skills and suggesting the unmentionable resembled a tee. Or perhaps the liberal-minded scribe wanted to turn the tables on the homophobes, who he presumed played golf, because who plays golf? Mostly old white guys, a.k.a. The Man.
The next two additions were relatively dull. One unimaginative fellow wrote a dirty limerick of the “Here I sit” variety, while another guy (and I know it was a guy, because it was the men’s room) added drawings of Meatwad from Aqua Teen Hunger Force (accompanied by the statement “Eat My Meat”) and Master Shake (with a drawing of an eye in front of him—”I cup,” which, I’ll admit, is fairly witty as restroom graffiti goes).
But the next guy is my hero. Paying tribute to countless smirking Freudian comments directed toward videogame players of the late 1970s, this artist added a television (in angled perspective!), a small box in front of the television, and a wire going from the box to the man’s lap. Then, below “golf,” he helpfully explained: “He’s playing Atari.” If you looked closely at the television screen, you could even see he was playing Pong.
And so, with a few simple lines, the creepiness of the original drawing and the annoying homophobia of the accompanying comments were obscured by the humor of the new image. True, it was still a naked guy playing Atari, but now his unmentionable has been tucked back a la Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs and replaced by the more innocent joystick of the Atari 2600. I even like the wonderfully retro choice of game console (most likely drawn by someone who was born after the original Nintendo came out).
I hope neither the original artist nor the homophobe will try to reclaim the drawing by adding some unfortunate new bit. I’ll probably call the building facilities soon to see if they can get rid of it, but part of me will be sad to see the end of this bizarre visual conversation among a series of anonymous people.
Of course, they say a picture is worth a thousand words (or 700 in this case), so—if you’re mentally prepared—you can view this masterpiece here.