June 21, 1996
Today officially marks the 87th Freethinker Edition. I’m celebrating this special event because by the time I get to 100 I’ll have run out of ideas. Actually, I don’t know how many this is, it could be somewhere in the millions for all I know, but, what the heck, let’s celebrate anyway. And as part of the celebration, I’d just like to say–Sri Lanka! Now that that’s out of the way…To celebrate the official 72nd Freethinker Edition, I offer a tribute to the place where I get most of my ideas. The men’s restroom in my office building is not exactly the sort of place you need a guided tour of, but very few people know how much drama takes place as men engage in difficult and complicated rituals. Gone are the days when men would retire to their own private tree painted to look like tile with a piece of bark under their arm. No, men are actually now forced to interact with each other, to sometimes perform duels that end in the winner taking the last available space while the loser stands back and does his best to look completely indifferent while contemplating what sort of engineering feat would be required to dam up Niagara Falls. In less crowded conditions, there is always the difficult question of whether to stand and face the tile or take advantage of a few minutes of restful contemplation. Of course, sometimes circumstances determine one over the other, but many men like to at least pretend that they have a choice in the matter. Many apparently prefer to stand, though, and weak-bladdered advertising executives have taken advantage of this to place advertisements exactly at eye-level. For places without advertisements, there is always the question of whether or not to talk to the others gathered here, to shift the focus of attention away from the task in hand, so to speak. I’ve learned more about global climate patterns and political science while trying to disguise my amazement at the amount of coffee I drank than I could ever learn in years of study. The final question is, of course, whether or not to wash our hands. Actually, there is a third school of thought–there’s the guy who brings in his portable shaving kit and spends twenty minutes placing as precisely as he can those eleven–no, ten, damn bristle brush!–hairs over his scalp. Most men, I promise, are more concerned with hygiene here than anywhere else. The slob who is still wearing yesterday’s breakfast on his shirt has probably washed his hands. In fact, the only reason we might consider not taking the time is because, well, we never know who we’ll be shaking hands with.
Me again–after all that do you really need anything else? Besides, we’re celebrating the 112th Freethinker Edition. I just wanted to say that a lot of you asked about the name and phone number that I forgot to edit out of last week’s edition. The name was my boss, and the phone number was her office. Be sure to give her a call and tell her what a good job I’m doing. And while you’re at it, tell her you’re with the FBI.