Wednesday, December 2, 2009


The man mopping the floors was insane. The coffee shop was empty except for the girl at the counter, the insane man mopping the floors, my wife, me, and our two friends Frank and Gail. It was 3:38pm. We were all finished ordering, seated at a table in the giant empty dining room. The girl was still at the counter. The insane man was still mopping. It was quiet and dimly lit. The quiet was composed of our conversation, the sound of the mop, and the lamentations of the girl at the counter. The quiet was periodically interrupted by outbursts from the insane man. He sporadically yelled at the front window as though there were people standing on the other side of it. There clearly were not. Moreover, it was impossible to discern exactly what it was that he was yelling at them.

Eventually, there came a point when I needed to piss. I heard our insane mopping companion working in the general vicinity of the restrooms in the back. He had apparently grown weary of the invisible people on the other side of the front window. I had to risk the interaction. I departed the table, heading for the men’s room. As I got closer, it became obvious that he was in the men’s room, singing loudly. Neither the melody nor the lyrical content could be determined. I opened the door and entered. He had stopped cleaning the men’s room, to sing into the mirror, quite intimately. His face was three inches from it as he leaned across the sink, singing loudly. My entrance into the room startled him immediately, and I felt terrible for disturbing his masturbatory serenade. He smiled widely and began a fast, garbled explanation that I couldn’t understand. I backed out of the men’s room, not having pissed or understood a word of his explanation except for the last six words, which were, “…and they’re not cheering for anybody.” I returned to my seat, bladder still aching. A few minutes later, I saw him emerge, sit, and begin smoking. So I went back and pissed without incident. It was beautiful. The relief was unexplainable. I returned to my seat and the conversation between my wife and friends.

More time elapsed. He quit smoking and disappeared. There was no audible singing. My wife decided this would be a safe time to make her trip to the bathroom, as coffee goes through everybody pretty quickly. Her account entailed her entry into an empty women’s room and an empty stall. This was soon followed by the sound of approaching footsteps out in the hall, and the sound of the insane man’s singing. He knocked on the door. It must have been time to clean the women’s room. My wife shouted that she was in there. She got a retort that, much like the one I had received, was indecipherable. At this point, the girl behind the counter intervened, corralling him away from the women’s room. Neither myself nor our two friends sitting at the table were aware of either of these events. Our table was out of earshot. I was only aware because I was told by her later.

There were no further incidents. He must have cleaned the women’s room. As we all left, he was seated and smoking again. He smiled and said, “Have a good day.” It was the clearest thing he had said yet. We all returned the sentiment.

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