Entertaining Scrawl in the Bathroom Stall -- Part 1

Originally posted on January 6, 2006. All your edits have been done by me.

The alternate title for this series of updates is Anatomy of Bathroom Graffiti. (The title is a reference to a show I have never seen called Anatomy of a Scene, which basically examines the making of a particular movie scene). This was going to be a single update, which developed into much too long a piece to be one update. (Perhaps it was essay length, thought I doubt that most of my professors would appreciate it when the assignment was to exegete a passage of scripture or elaborate on Hobbes' view of justice.) It then turned into two, and now, since I am trying to get on to a regular schedule of updates, it will now be a series of undetermined length. In fact, more than likely, it will go on for a very long time, because, as I continue to see ridiculous graffiti, I will continue to make further posts about this topic.

Anyways, enough housekeeping, and on to the meat of the matter. Or perhaps the meat of the platter. Mmmmmmm.... meat platter...

Anatomy of Bathroom Graffiti. Part 1.

It is entirely possible that bathroom graffiti is the lowest form of communication in the world. "How do you figure?" you might ask. With an abacus mostly, but that is neither here, nor is it there. Grunts and simple hand gestures (even those extended from your window at tailgaters) are further elevated in the hierarchy that is human communication. Even the cavemen, if there were such spelunk-savvy beings, were much more eloquent in their written communications. For examply, you didn't have Ung writing how Thurg's mom was hot. No, there were fun pictures of animals and such which communicate much more clearly. Not like the uselessness that is currently available next to the toilet paper dispenser. Perhaps I am exaggerating. It should probably be known far and wide that Thurg's mom was hot. And perhaps it is not entirely true that bathroom graffiti is as low as I might make it out. However, it is, I would say, the lower rungs of society who make their markings on the world on the template of the crap-cubicle wall.

This is a distinction I feel must be made. I am talking about bathroom graffiti. Other types of graffiti can be downright artistic. I've seen some great stuff, not done by professional artists, but by regular teenagers. Not like the premium teenagers, who are much more expensive but, apparently, they burn better. That's gasoline humour, people. I'm not talking about lighting 17-year-olds on fire. (Or am I?) I am talking about bathroom graffiiti specifically because it is typical of low-brow scrawlings. I have seen some artistic stuff, but that is the exception, rather than the rule. I have also seen the low-brow stuff elsewhere, but I'm going to be focussing on the typical etchings on the walls of latrines.

Most of my experience in this field is due to being involved in the workplace. The bathroom graffiti I am familiar with comes from this venue, perhaps because I try to spend as little time in public toilets as possible. So, the only "public" washrooms I frequent are at places of employment, and thus, this will be my basis of argument. From what I have experienced in my minor run-ins with public washrooms is that, while still prone to graffiti, there is much less of it. Perhaps it is the frustration with manual labour that drives some to etch their thoughts, beliefs and poetry inside their stink-box. One will never know. Unless One asks. But One is lazy. One is also a dumb name. One will probably write graffiti about me now.

No doubt you are waiting for me to get into some real examples, not just this preamble nonsense. Well, I will placate to the masses just this once. Perhaps more later, but just this once for now.

The beginning of any bathroom graffiti begins with a single mark. This is perhaps the funniest of all graffiti. Lets call it "beginner graffiti." This is when people realize that they can make marks on the wall, just as those before them had. They see things written and scratched in the wall and wonder if they, too, can make their mark on this canvas. And, thus, they fish for their keys, and put pen to paper. Or key to paint, assuming the stall wall is not made of paper. I won't bring into play the concept of malicious intent, though this certainly applies. Tune in later for more on that subject. For now, the humour of this situation is enough. I just imagine someone being very curious, making a scratch, and hopping around like the monkeys in 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is what it is left as. No words. No picture. Nothing but a single line, indicating that, yes, the right instrument and the correct pressure will leave a noticable mark. It is simply ridiculous. That concludes this edition of Anatomy of Bathroom Graffiti. Tune in next time...

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