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Rules Of The Cruise

The two urinals are empty. Its 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 shouldve used the stall. I always use the stall. Im paranoid that anybody pissing beside me in a public restroom will magically, instantly know Im gay and figure Im cruising for sex. Im notits just that closeted politicians have made me phobic. USC, mumbles the man, unzipping. Im wearing a jersey with USC emblazoned on the back, so hes literate. You go there? he asks, and now its 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. Theres not even a divider between us! Inexplicably, I feel like glancing at his penis. Dont do it. Look up, look straight ahead, Jesse, at the tiles. Focus on the tiles. Still cant 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-associatingget me a crystal ballabout some sort of sport? Is it the one where they hit the ball with the stick? Its not that I dont enjoy sports. I just prefer graceful, acrobatic athletes who wear very little clothing. Triple toe loops on the ice rink, a butterfly stroke, womens 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 wouldnt whip out his dick three feet from my face. The Trojans were favored bywhat? He is now asking me a question in what seems to be a foreign language. I understand each individual word but cant make sense of the way theyve been assembled. Why is he doing this? Come at me head on, not sneaky and sly from the side as Im 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 dont Mercifully, he finishes his own thought. Something like 41 points. And to think the Cardinals were 111 last season! Shame about Booty, hey? he goes on. Shame, I echo, like I know. If he hadnt a broken that fingerhed a won the Heisman. Assuming that I care about football is one thing, but the Heisman Trophy? Thats just offensive. Listen, pal, if winning a Heisman has nothing to do with Mary Lou Retton, basically I dont 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 Lous 1984 Olympic gold? No. I just want to finish pissing in peace. Instead, Ive got a highly uncomfortable ESPN interrogation. If he cant shut it at the urinal, I decide I dont 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. Send a letter to the editor about this article.
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Jesse Archer