Sunday, July 29, 2007

What the Hell are You Doing in the Bathroom All This Time?

Good afternoon, Mr. Wochysky. I believe your acquaintances call you Timmy, yes?

I'm sure it is startling to hear an unfamiliar voice at this particular time and place Timmy, but it is critical that you pay close attention to what I'm about to say. Pursuant to certain classified executive orders, we are tasked with gathering information that may be relevant for the identification, pursuit and capture of terrorists, elements of their logistical or financial support networks, or people who have or potentially could someday find themselves in physical proximity to terrorists. Or people that look like terrorists. Or think about terrorism.

Or other people.

Our investigative purview is unlimited where we believe there may be a national security interest. We may, by our own prerogative, require access to financial records, credit histories, foreign and domestic travel itineraries, information about family, friends and business associates, religious and political affiliations, telephone records, email and Web browsing histories, etc. etc.

But what we need to know right now is what in the hell are you doing in the bathroom all this time?

You did the same thing yesterday at about this time, yet afterwards the soap and the sink basin were both dry. The toilet seat emitted no residual warmth. And yet there were 37 fewer sheets of toilet paper on the roll than were there when you entered the bathroom. It just doesn't make sense.


Are you aware that toilet paper, given its propensity to dissolve quickly in water, can be an ideal medium for carrying coded messages? Or that is can be an important ingredient in explosives? No? Well... OK. Just checking. If you do ever become aware of anything like that, we expect you to alert us immediately.

There's no need shout. Speak towards the shampoo dispenser and we can hear you quite clearly.

I'll cut to the chase, Timmy--if that really is your name--we've been observing you since your 14th birthday, almost a year ago. And you, young man, are up to something. On that point our team of analysts is unanimous. We know secretive, conspiratorial behavior when we see it. We see the nervousness, the furtive glances, how withdrawn you've become.

For example, what is in that social studies book that you walk around at school holding in front of you all the time? You might as well tell us, because our cryptologists will figure it soon enough. Why not come clean and make this easy on yourself?

OK, Timmy, if that's the way you want to play it. Let's talk about something else. You sure did spend a lot of time trying to crack the password on the Internet filter that your dad installed, didn't you? I guess "golf" seemed pretty obvious once you got it. Almost as if your father wanted you to be able get past the firewall. Believe me, it's something we're looking into. Incidentally, your dad might not make it home in time to drive you to soccer practice today.

Just a gut feeling.

Let's just stop playing these games Timmy, we know exactly what you did and why you did it. You think we're not aware of the vast network of apparently ordinary Americans who are sending and receiving coded messages via the Web sites you've been visiting? I won't say how far we've gotten in gleaning the plans contained in those squeals, moans and screams. But that "Oh, god! Oh god!" stuff is pretty obvious. No translation required. "Allahu Akhbar," eh Timmy?

You can bet we've already adapted our physical profiling guidelines. And our body search protocols.

You must be pretty mortified right about now, right? Humiliated? To have your sick thought exposed to the world? But we've been watching you. Surely it occurred to you that you were being watched? You suspected your father's new wife was the mole, didn't you? It must have seemed a little suspicious, she being so much younger than your father. We've seen how you watch her when her back is turned, or when she's bending over to get something from the kitchen cabinets. We know you've rifled her underwear drawers when she's not home, looking for evidence of her real identity. But you didn't find anything, did you? And you never will.

Christ, what the hell is going on in there?! It's been like 20 minutes!

What's that?! Did you just ask whether we have a search warrant? Do you realize what we could do to you just for asking that question?! Do you?!

Of course you don't. Frankly, neither do I. The executive order under which we operate is so secret that even we aren't privy to its provisions. Our superiors, whoever they may or may not be, have instituted an iron-clad hot-warm-cold policy to alert us if and when we may be conducting our work in a manner close to the limits of our authority. Or, at least that's our understanding, though we have to date never received any temperature-based feedback regarding our operations.

But so you know, we may or may not be authorized to hold you indefinitely without the right of habeus corpus, to deny you contact with your relatives, to subject you to stress positions, sleep deprivation, or to threaten you with angry dogs, ferrets, or hamsters. We could yank you out of that bathroom and set you up in a 10x10 cinderblock cell at hotel Uzbekistan.

Or not. But if we can, we will certainly insist you wash your hands before we go anywhere.

You'd be surprised at what a hamster can do when it's really irritated.

Against the law?! What an outrageous suggestion! Rest assured, whatever it is we are authorized to do, it is absolutely legal. How can you be sure? Well, we totally swear it is.

What is that?! Are you flushing?! Nice try, Timmy, but I think you've fallen right into our trap. Perhaps you've heard of the TSA program? It stands for Total Sewage Awareness, Timmy. You think you've just destroyed the evidence, but 10 minutes from now we'll be going over that evidence with a fine tooth comb.

What's that? Now you're wising up Timmy. That's right. Just slip it out under the door, and no sudden moves. You're not imagining the sounds of those helicopters. We could turn this bathroom into a crater in the blink of an eye.

What's this!? This is just a girlie magazine! You think this is going to throw us off your track? Do you think we're idiots?! Do you?!

Don't even bother to answer that. It's classified.

Editor's note to the author: We had intended to use this space to congratulate you on your first post in this space, but regrettably we find ourselves apologizing to our readers for the prurient content of the work. For future reference, this is not the kind of thing we are looking for.


Mark Lazen said...

Nice Zorro. I didn't get the hairy eyeball from the higher ups until my 10th post.

P.M. Bennett said...

Reader to editor: This is exactly the kind of thing I want to read here, so relax about the "prurient" content. It wasn't prurient, it was political. The hinting at what is happening in the bathroom is so slanted and biting--it's making the point.

I think this is a great commentary on the dangers of unbridled government control/access to our lives. They can make ANYTHING seem suspicious--even a boy doing what boys do--and that's the danger...

Many thanks to the author!

Parvin Sharpless, Executive Editor said...

The editors wish to convey our appreciation to Crooks & Liars, and to skippy the bush kangaroo for the link. It is ironic however that this blog, dedicated to elevated discourse and analysis, and in which we frequently decry the public's attraction to simplistic and sensationalistic commentary, should attract notice for what we consider an aberrant post.

However, apparently we will take whatever we can get.

Zorro's_gerbil said...

Hey Paul--thanks for the support. I was pretty drunk when I wrote it, but now that I give it a read--whaddayaknow!--it IS political!

outerspace said...

Let me get this straight.
You publish a nice piece of satire, it's successful, yet you're embarrassed of it? And don't want to publish any thing like it again?
No wonder magazines, both online and offline, are suffering so much.
Here's a clue, Mr. Editor--when people like it, publish MORE OF THE SAME. Thanks.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...