Peeing and Nothingness – an Existentialist Urinary Tract:
I went over to the Koolaid stand thinking ‘Gee, I really don’t like Koolaid and never have‘ , but the Cub Scout kids were out there with their parents in front of the supermarket on a Saturday, and I think I knew someone who was a Cub Scout once or maybe their kid was and anyway, it was a hot day and I was thirsty so one thing led to another so there I was, waiting in line for Koolaid. While I was waiting in line I couldn’t stop thinking about all the time I’ve spent waiting in line and wondering if it all adds up, if you could really get an accounting of all the time you spent doing this or that in life and whether reading that document would be worth the time it took to read it. I’m pretty sure I’d rather not think about it. And it’s only moments, instants accrued, because nothing actually spans time. It’s only flashes of awareness flickering in and out of consciousness. We imagine a continuity but there is none, just a lot of concurrent complexity we mostly filter out.
I can tell you that I was third in line when I got there and then I was fourth because I let this lady go ahead in front of me because she was in a hurry or so she said and her grandson was a Cub Scout although not in this town but “over the hill” and she never let an opportunity to “support a worthy cause” slip by. This made me feel guilty because I have let so many of those opportunities “slip by”. Then she told me about how her grandson’s best friend was recently in a Volvo that was crushed by an overturned big rig that was carrying an enormous amount of dirt and how it took the authorities several hours to dig through all of that to find the boy suffocated and smothered in filth. I didn’t need to hear that, any of that.
I was only waiting in line for Koolaid and I never liked Koolaid anyway.
The lady in front of that lady turned around and wanted to know if that was the same overturned big rig that blocked the Magdalena exit on Monday and yes it was and what a shame. She then offered to let the victim’s best friend’s grandmother go in front of her in line, so now that lady was the next in line and I was still fourth. The person at the front of the line was having a very hard time deciding between cherry and grape Koolaid. Is there really a difference? I wanted to ask. I didn’t though. I kept my big mouth shut because of the big rig and all that dirt and it seemed completely wrong and out of place to say or think anything at all. For a decent interval, at least.
Then I thought how rude it was for that lady to unload that mess onto me and the other people who were merely waiting in line for Koolaid, not at all deserving or expecting to be dumped on like that. I too felt a little smothered by that truck, and I was already sweating. It was hot and it was Saturday and there were Cub Scouts and their parents and suddenly I had to pee. There were already two more people in line behind me, and the first in line still hadn’t made up his mind and I could tell from his body language that the grandmother had spilled her load onto him too, because he stepped aside shaking his head and let her go first.
She quickly snapped up two packages of cherry Koolaid, because for every two you bought you got another one for free and two was the minimum to get that deal. She got her free Koolaid package and dashed right out of there and I remembered suddenly that I’d heard about that over-turned big rig on the news and there had been no casualties, just a traffic jam, and darn if that old lady didn’t know how to work a line. I’ll bet she’d spent a lot less time waiting for stuff than most people did. Her final accounting was going to have a gold star next to that item.
Suddenly I loathed all Cub Scouts and their parents and especially Koolaid which I realized (again) that I had always hated, cherry or grape or whatever color they put on the granules, and I really had to pee, so I gave up my place (where I was third once again) and went into the supermarket. I wandered all the way to the back, past the butcher and the seafood, through the swinging doors and into the smelly hallway where the filthy men’s room was, and immediately found myself in line again. I was third. There were two other guys ahead of me and I’d only been there for about twenty seconds when some old guy came up behind me. Sure enough right away he launched into a story about a prostate and a blockage and emergency surgeries and almost dying like Thomas Jefferson and blood spurting out of his wherever. I didn’t believe a word of it, but before I could even blink I was fourth in line and he was at the front.
They say nice guys finish last. I say they end up waiting a little longer, but what are you going to do? Chances are you can hold it. It’s probably not a big deal. The people who hustle and bustle and get ahead in life, like somebody speeding on the freeway during rush hour, they get ahead of you by maybe twenty seconds. That’s no time at all. You can still pee and get back out there and go on with your life. Not everything is a big deal. Not everything is worth the trouble. I waited a little longer, took my turn and left.