Roy Orbison and the kitchen toilet

A new year, even if it’s an artificial kind of new, where an old set of scenic photos attached to numbered squares gets replaced with a new set of scenic photos attached to numbered squares, simply begs for a new start.

The blog is being thrown open to the reading public via my employer, the Journal-Advocate, a daily newspaper in my hometown of Sterling, Colo. (I include this information for my vast global audience who may not know that I post from a small but elegant home in the windswept lower reaches of Colorado’s South Platte River Valley.)

While things will be lighter from here on out, I’m leaving up all of my old strum und drang columns calling down eternal damnation upon the heads of everyone who does not share my liberal political bent and love of Roy Orbison just in case there’s someone I haven’t yet offended.

I do this because my editor, cognizant of my mad skills with the English language and eager to improve the newspaper’s online presence, wants to tap into my vast global audience. She also wants me to stop begging her if I can please, please, please link my blog to the newspaper’s social media. After all, when a blogger gets emails from as far away as Brule, Neb., and South Vernon, Colo., clearly there’s untapped potential that needs to be … well, tapped.

At this point the rules of cogent writing would require a transition to the matter at hand, and so here it is: Speaking of Roy Orbison, I cannot listen to “Dream Baby” without thinking about the toilet in the kitchen.

That’s right, the toilet in the kitchen. While perusing my usual ultra-liberal websites (you know, Time magazine, the Denver Post, like that) I stumbled across a slide show featuring photos of hilarious do-it-yourself foul-ups where the DIYer clearly hadn’t thought things out. I was listening to the Operatic Orbison’s “Essentials” album as I flipped through the first few badly-installed electrical outlets and cupboard drawers when, right in the middle of “Dream Baby,” I was stopped cold with an image straight out my nightmares.

It was a photo of a toilet in a kitchen. This photo.

kitchen toilet

I’m inclined to believe this is somewhere in Europe or even Japan, where concepts of privacy do not meet prudish American standards. Notice that the toilet is off to the side, as if to suggest that, well, it’s in a separate space, so it’s really okay, if you just don’t look while someone uses it.

I’ve actually used a toilet just like that many times. In my dreams. Well, nightmares, really. It’s a recurring thing for me, probably having something to do with my complex psyche, once described by a therapist as a “towering creative talent undermined by a bottomless chasm of self-doubt.”

Okay, no, that’s not exactly what he said but it’s what I heard, and the “public toilet” nightmare is, I’m told, fairly common among intellectuals. This makes me feel better because it’s nice that I share this trait with actual intellectuals.

I won’t go into details of any of the nightmares, but you can imagine the relief (no pun intended) when I wake up to find myself safe in my very private bedroom and able to totter off to my equally private adjoining bathroom.

What is disturbing is that, in the course of having these dreams, I find myself actually wondering whether using the toilet is socially acceptable under the circumstances. I mean, really, why would someone put a toilet next to the kitchen sink if they didn’t want you to use it? Or in the company break room? Or even (yes, I actually dreamt this once) the main corridor of what appeared to be Sterling High School?

While I ponder these questions, I do not flee the space desperately looking for a door marked “Men.” No, I stand there engulfed in quandary, wondering whether I can get the job done and escape before anyone comes along and sees me.

I’ve read that this kind of nightmare is similar to the “naked in public” dream in which one finds oneself in increasing stages of undress until one is buck nekkid in the most inappropriate of circumstances. Again, it’s not an uncommon nightmare, but whenever I discover I’m suddenly sans culottes in public, I begin to justify that, well, it’s kind of like Will Ferrell doing casual Friday, isn’t it? Not so bad, really.

In my younger days the dream-me would slink around trying to get back to wherever my clothes were, usually with little success. I don’t bother with that anymore; nowadays when I have that dream I just brazen it out and strut it shamelessly; “Hey, there, yes, it’s me, nothing but me! What’s that? Breezy? Oh, just a tad.”

It’s getting easier to pull off.

No pun intended.



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