Last week’s “Scariest Moment Ever” was a swan-based monster movie that could have ended with me kick-boxing a majestic creature, but instead ended with me walking away at a casual pace. This week’s “Scariest Moment Ever” was more of the psychological thriller or crazed murderer variety.
As anyone who’s followed this blog for more than a week or two knows, interesting things happen typically only to me in one of two places, the gym or the bathroom. Sometimes both. Those are the real doozies. Sadly, this one is set exclusively in the bathroom, so do whatever you need to do to prepare yourself mentally for that.
In the interest of maintaining some dignity and not grossing anyone out to completely, I’ll keep the scene-setting to a minimum. Let’s just say, I was sitting in the bathroom at work, doing what a man does in that position. I heard another party enter the restroom and relieve himself at one of the urinals. I believe he washed his hands and then went for the paper towels. So far, so good. This mysterious, hygienic stranger, utilized the trashcan, presumably on his way out the door and then it happened: the lights went out.
I sat there in complete and utter darkness for a moment and thought to myself: “Well, this is different.” And then I panicked.
It’s interesting that the idea of the power going off never once even came close to occurring to me. Instead, ten million horror movie scenarios ran through my brain all at the same time. Was a puppet on a tricycle going to suddenly appear and announce: "I want to to play a game." Had that person actually left the bathroom? Was he still in here? Did he have Vin Diesel from “Pitch Black” eyes that let him see in the dark? Or Buffalo Bill night vision shades from “Silence of the Lambs?” We could have a debate over the horror credentials of some of those, I guess, but let’s just keep on rolling, yes? Yes.
I talked my heart out of voluntarily shutting itself down in fear. I listened, trying to get a better read on what I was up against. I heard no footsteps on the tile floor. Nothing was approaching me. Unless. He was already outside the stall door. Maybe in my several moment long panic I missed his footsteps and now he was lurking right outside the stall door or worse … slithering underneath it. Well, no, that wouldn't be worse. That’s prime kicking zone. No, lurking outside, cloaked in darkness, waiting to get the jump on me would be way worse than lying prone on the floor.
At a certain point I reasoned that I couldn't sit there forever. I mean, I guess I could and just turn into some weird, bathroom-based version of that knight from “Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade” or something. But that seemed less-than agreeable. I took care of what needed to be taken care of and readied myself. I reached into my pocket and removed my cell phone. The screen lit up and I gave a cursory look around at my surroundings. There was no head peaking over the top of the stall or body wiggling under it. There may have been feet somewhere outside, but not in my immediate vicinity. I activated my flashlight app. I was ready.
First things first, I flushed the toilet because even in life-threatening horror movie situations, I’m not a damn heathen. Slowly, carefully, I unlocked the stall door. I pushed it open and braced for an assault.
I exited the stall and scanned around with my flashlight. Nothing. Only me and a bathroom. I walked towards the exit. Still nothing. I investigated the light switch. It had been clicked off. I mean, so there went the power failure theory I’d never even once considered. I clicked it on.
Presto. Same old boring bathroom. My visions of becoming a scream queen vanished, chased away by the bathroom’s bright, fluorescent lights.
I wandered over to the sink to wash my hands, because, once again, I may have been in mortal terror just seconds earlier, but I still had the peace of mind to respect bathroom protocol. I looked at myself in the mirror and then I saw it … I’d forgotten to tuck my shirt in … dun dunn DUNN! I did so, so that my co-workers wouldn't think I’d been getting lucky in the bathroom instead of being forced to confront my own mortality.
I walked out the door and returned to work.
So, this week’s lesson: If you think it’s a good idea to turn off the lights when you exit a public restroom, you are an asshole. Not as big of an asshole as the people who don’t wash their hands or flush, but still, you’re not one of the good ones. Feel shame.