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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #542
Hizz and Hirs
David Gunn

The restaurant was packed with revelers celebrating the Foom of Vulcanola, a biennial bacchanalia that honored the goddess of rubber hats. Melba had been invited to the event by one of her coworkers at the Department of Existential Equivocation -- what was his name? Come to think of it, he hadn’t told her. Ever. And they’d worked together (or at least conterminously) for three years now. Well, it wasn’t surprising, really, given the department’s strictures on the transmission of truthful information. From the doorway, she scanned the crowd, but she didn’t spot him. Or anyone else she knew. But she’d come all the way downtown -- she even splurged on a one-way Segway fare -- and she wasn’t about to simply return home unentertained. So she squeezed through the pile of squirming bodies wedged in the vestibule and thence into the eatery’s main gorging chamber.

Confronting her was a wall of din so loud that it physically pushed her back towards the aquarium in which several large game fish were engaged in grouper therapy. She stoppered her ears with her fingers and immediately flew forward past the maitre d’ and on toward a booth in which three prospective trenchermen were perusing -- and occasionally scraping -- scratch-n’-sniff menus. Instinctively, she unplugged her ears, and that slowed her forward motion enough so that she landed upon one of the padded benches with scarcely a thump. As one, the threesome looked up briefly at the intrusion, then resumed their scratching and sniffing. The booth’s high walls blocked much of the hubbub, and Melba was suddenly aware of the persistent ringing of her cell phone. She plucked it from her purse and activated it. "All of our operatorsh are ba-ba-busy asshishting other cushtomersh," said an annoying voice, reminding Melba that she’d phoned the Pringler Call Center the day before yesterday to cancel her service and had been on hold with the company ever since. Yet she refused to give him the satisfaction of hanging up. So she flipped her phone back into standby mode and slipped it into her purse.

A food steward banged a glass of frothy water down on the table in front of her, pulled a pad and pen from a pocket in his caftan, and looked at Melba expectantly. "I’ll have this glass of water," she hastily improvised, picking it up and draining it in one gulp. "And another." The steward made a note on his pad, bowed slightly and vanished, ignoring her boothmates, who continued to vigorously scratch and sniff their menus.

There was something about the rhythmic scraping of their fingernails that set off an imminent urinarial alarm, or IUA, deep in her nether regions. Melba excused herself, got up from the booth, and peered around the vast room. Just past the krill fry station she spotted the universal sign for water closet -- a kimono clad stick figure with limbs akimbo atop a kalimba. In her mind’s ear, she heard the unmistakably irregular chord changes of "The Poltergeist Polka," which subliminally accelerated the process of disengaging her bladder’s hold mechanism. Quickly now, she wove a path through the throng of imbibers and pushed through the revolving door that led into the lavatorial antechamber. Here were two doors labeled "Hizz" and "Hirs." Neither had any obvious symbol to indicate gender, though the "Hizz" door cryptically featured a tiny bas-relief of three circus clowns engaged in a pie fight. On impulse, she opened that door.

If the front of the restaurant was a poster child for pandemonium, the Hizz room was its quintessence. Here was the Tower of Babel’s confusion of tongues intensified a thousandfold through an NAT Audio Magma amplifier. Imagine all the world’s eight-track tape players getting together for one last convulsive gasp of collective playback. Now double that racket. It was utter bedlam, a chaotically wild uproar. It wasn’t, however, a lavatory. There was neither wash basin nor toilet anywhere in sight, though the NAT unit did share certain control knobs with a London bidet. The tumult was overwhelming and pinned Melba to the wall like a lepidopterist’s trophy moth. She didn’t even have the strength to raise her hands to cover her ears. However, the racket prompted her cell phone to pop out of standby mode. Even the din from the room was no match for "Pleash shtay on the line for the na-na-next available operator," and the distraction enabled Melba to extract herself from the Hizz chamber.

Now she approached the Hirs door with more than a little trepidation. However, her bladder’s ever more urgent request could not be denied, so she steeled herself, pushed open the door, and ...

And abruptly she was out of the restaurant and in the house, along with Kalvos & Damian, and you, our faithful gaggle of listening audients, who are today joined by a Hirs of a different stripe known as a Rozalie. So place your lavatorial obligations on hold for the next two hours and join us in the house.