Rules Of The Cruise
By Jesse Archer
The two urinals are empty. It's a restroom in a quiet office building. This will be a quick in/out. I unzip and unleash. As if to taunt me, the door behind creaks open and a stranger sidles up to the urinal on my left. I should've used the stall.
I always use the stall. I'm paranoid that anybody pissing beside me in a public restroom will magically, instantly know I'm gay and figure I'm cruising for sex. I'm not'it's just that closeted politicians have made me phobic.
'USC,' mumbles the man, unzipping. I'm wearing a jersey with USC emblazoned on the back, so he's literate. 'You go there?' he asks, and now it's official: He is talking to me at the urinal.
This is not cruising. The first rule of cruising is 'no speech.' I wish it were cruising. This other kind of friendly gets me flustered. Speech at the urinal means he has identified me as belonging to the world of dude, bro, and pal. Better play it cool.
'Yeah, I went there,' I admit, an octave lower than normal. I clench my diaphragm to pee faster. I must get out of here. There's not even a divider between us! Inexplicably, I feel like glancing at his penis. Don't do it. Look up, look straight ahead, Jesse, at the tiles. Focus on the tiles.
'Still can't get over that loss to Stanford,' says the man. His stream whooshes into the plastic grate at the urinal base. 'Trojans got to work on their passing game.' He is free-associating'get me a crystal ball'about some sort of sport? Is it the one where they hit the ball with the stick?
It's not that I don't enjoy sports. I just prefer graceful, acrobatic athletes who wear very little clothing. Triple toe loops on the ice rink, a butterfly stroke, women's gymnastics. The man at the urinal appreciates something entirely different. He is a football fan, and fans are, by definition, fanatical. Bonkers, like suicide bombers and teenage hormones.
On game day, USC football fans march across the campus,
aggressively kicking rows of lampposts on the way to the coliseum. Once inside, they are bloodthirsty Romans raving for the lion to eat the gladiator. Some find the spectacle enthralling, like this guy. If he were to intercept that I play for a different team, he may tear me apart as a rival mascot or stomp me like those luckless lampposts. Certainly he wouldn't whip out his dick three feet from my face.
'The Trojans were favored by'what?' He is now asking me a question in what seems to be a foreign language. I understand each individual word but can't make sense of the way they've been assembled. Why is he doing this? Come at me head on, not sneaky and sly from the side as I'm taking a leak.
My heart palpitates; sweat beads on my brow. 'Um,' I stutter. My fingers fumble; I swerve and piss a little on my jeans. 'I don't''
Mercifully, he finishes his own thought. 'Something like 41 points. And to think the Cardinals were 1'11 last season!'
'Shame about Booty, hey?' he goes on.
'Shame,' I echo, like I know.
'If he hadn't a broken that finger'he'd a won the Heisman.'
Assuming that I care about football is one thing, but the Heisman Trophy? That's just offensive. Listen, pal, if winning a Heisman has nothing to do with Mary Lou Retton, basically I don't want to know about it. Which college quarterback can vault into a back somersault with a perfect double twist and still stick the landing?
But do I bring up Mary Lou's 1984 Olympic gold? No. I just want to finish pissing in peace. Instead, I've got a highly uncomfortable ESPN interrogation. If he can't shut it at the urinal, I
decide I don't need to focus on the tiles. Furtively, I cast my eyes down, a little to the left. There we go: Circumcised, emits a steady dribble, could be a grower.
I shake off my own, zip up, and head to the sink. I casually give him the old 'SC victory sign. 'Fight on,' I say. The locker room is mine as much as his. 'Fight on,' he returns.