|Be really glad I opted for *this* picture.
image by Victorrocha (Own work)
Some mental images are really hard to shake. Your brain takes a snap shot and there it is, seared into your mind’s eye taking up perfectly good brain space that could be devoted to memorizing your frequent flier number or a recipe for tomato soup. Case in point:
As I jogged to the optometrist’s this morning I saw a guy peeing in the ally between a pizzeria and a French gastro-pub. At first I thought he’d just stepped off to the side to check his text messages so I didn’t give him a wide birth. I just ran on by and smiled at him in greeting before I smelled urine and realized that it wasn’t his cell phone in his hand so much as his penis. He at least had the good grace to look mortified. I went about my business and arrived at the optometrist’s having resolved not to think about what I had seen. If I think about something then I get the urge to talk about it and there is no way I could work a stranger’s urination habits into small talk with opticians.
I was browsing the frames, waiting for the doctor when who should walk into the office but the public pee-r. He saw me, went pale, and then gave me a nasty look like it was super invasive of me to notice him peeing in broad daylight in between two buildings with perfectly good bathrooms. He avoided further eye contact and started browsing the frames too.
All I could think about was the image of this guy standing there on the sidewalk holding his penis. It dawned on me that this guy probably hadn’t washed his hands either because if going into a restaurant to pee seems like too much of a hassle then going into one just to wash your hands is probably out of the question. And here he was just milling around the optometrist’s office touching eyewear with his penis hands.
I felt like I should do something but couldn’t bring myself to be like, “Excuse me, sir. I just saw you peeing in the street two minutes ago. Wash your hands. Stop touching stuff. And for the LOVE OF GOD stop being gross. Also excuse me, optometrist’s office manager who’s about to have a really gross day. Just FYI: The guy who’s got his hands all over your Polo men’s eyewear was just holding his penis while mistakenly assuming the chalkboard menu with a frog on it up the block would shield his public urination from view. So maybe you want to break out some disinfectant wipes or something.”
I was afraid to address the issue head on because the guy seemed like the type of person who copes with embarrassment by becoming hostile and I kept imagining getting into a “he said, she said” public argument about this guy’s urination habits. It wasn’t a situation where I could go all CSI and present everyone in the optometrist’s office with incontrovertible evidence that this actually happened. But I couldn’t just do nothing either because then I’d spend all day thinking about fellow optometric patients spending all afternoon putting on penis glasses.
And while I was spending time trying to be the Emily Post of public urination call outs the guy kept on touching stuff.
“Washing your hands is always a good idea,” I lamely announced to the office at large while staring pointedly at Penis Hands. Half the office looked at me like I was crazy and the other half looked at him expectantly.
Mercifully he slouched off towards the bathroom which gave me a chance to approach the office manager and let her know what I saw.
“Do men usually wash their hands after they pee?” she asked. I don’t know. I hope so. Especially if their hygiene habits are such that street peeing is an option. But I felt like I had done my civic duty and wasn’t really obligated to wax philosophical on male urination habits.
The optometrist chose that moment to call me in to her office which seemed like a sign that it was now okay for me to fully devote my energies to not thinking about that guy’s penis and getting my glasses prescription updated. By the time my exam was done Penis Hands was nowhere to be seen and the office manager had left for lunch.
The moral of this story, I suppose, is always make sure you wipe down or wash anything you buy in a store before putting it in close contact with your person because it’s always possible that your kicking new Kate Spade glasses have second hand penis on them. But really I’m writing this post because I can’t shake the mental image of this guy standing behind the gastro pub’s sidewalk menu with his penis nonchalantly in hand as if it were a cell phone. Maybe putting the experience down in print will help. Or at the very least get the image stuck in your head too so we can form some kind of support group and work through this together.