Tuesday, January 11, 2011

COMMON GROUND "The Toilet Seat" - Part 2

Nicholas reached for his water glass and took a drink. As he sat the glass down he asked, “What’s the real reason you’re getting a divorce?”

Without missing a beat Max answered him. “The toilet seat.”

“Seriously?” Nicholas responded. His look of disbelief did not match the look of sincerity on Max’s face. “You went to therapy,” he said bluntly as the alcohol had removed all forms of filtering true feelings. “Did you discover nothing there?”

Max looked at Nicholas, the space between his eyes fully wrinkled as he was trying to swim through the river of alcohol back to the shore of reality and figure out how to convince Nicholas, and Miller, that he was telling the truth.

“Seriously, it was the toilet seat.” He looked at both of them waiting for a comment that never came. Miller and Nicholas just sat in their chairs staring at him, dumbfounded by what they were actually hearing. It didn’t seem real to either of them. Their alcohol consumption made the fact that they were hearing a story of a marriage ending over a toilet seat that much more outlandish.

Max continued. “The therapist tried to find some underlying problem. He talked about passive aggressive behavior, low self esteem, her mother, my mother…better aim.” Miller snorted before he could stop himself. Nicholas then chuckled to himself. Max’s expression all but growled “really.” Nicholas put his hands up to his mouth as if to pinch off the laughter. Miller folded his lips inward and bit his smile away.

Continuing, Max said, “He even suggested I try sitting.” At these words Miller perked up; a movement not lost on Nicholas. “You know, putting myself in her “seat”.

“How was that?” asked Miller, clutching on to something in the story that he found interesting. “Did you like it too?”

“Fifty/Fifty,” answered Max.

Miller nodded his head as a moment of clarity flooded his brain and he remembered that he should hydrate tonight or pay the price tomorrow. He took a drink of his water and looked at Nicholas with a big, goofy smile and mouthed the words “good call” in reference to the water.

Nicholas had a look of superiority on his face as he mouthed back “I know.”

While there was a lull in the conversation Jillian approached with another round of tequila shots.

“All right guys, second round,” she said as she took the shot glasses from her tray and placed them on the table. “You know what to do.

Before Miller could say anything Nicholas shot him a look and said, “Not a word from you.”

“Bitch,” said Miller as he melodramatically turned away from Nicholas, a look of wounded insincerity so contrived on his face that it was hard to keep his smile at bay.

“Shut it,” said Max gruffly, slipping into the role of mock referee as easily as falling asleep after sex.

Miller turned to Nicholas and the two of them smiled at each other at getting the appropriate response from Max. They had played their little faux anger game and he had once again taken the bait and fallen into their trap.

They did the tequila shooting ritual one more time and slammed their shot glasses down on the table.

“So, I really applied myself,” said Max getting back to challenges set forth by the therapist. “I tried to examine any underlying behavior – Why was I leaving the toilet seat up? What was I trying to say? I made an effort with the toilet seat.” Max paused to take a drink of his water. “Turns out it wasn’t me,” he said as he set his glass back on the table.

Nicholas was much more involved in Max’s tale of toilet seat self discovery than Miller who was known to be a little self involved and prone to tuning out as soon as he was bored.

“Who was it?” said Nicholas, his curiosity on the verge of exploding like a New Year’s Eve popper.

Max looked at him trying to figure out whom the “who” was in his “Who was it” question. Before he had a chance to ask however, Nicholas had taken a breath and launched himself into a scenario that he should have been too buzzed to create, but created nonetheless.

“She was having an affair wasn’t she? I knew it. And in your own bathroom.” The words “affair” and “bathroom” peaked Miller’s interest. He sat straight up in the chair with his hands folded on the table in front of him and willed his eyes to focus so that he could watch Nicholas continue. “She seemed so upset and unhappy lately. She was feeling guilty wasn’t she?” He was talking fast. “I knew she wasn’t good enough for you from the beginning.” Nicholas reached for his margarita glass, which was empty. Max thought he would have a second to put a stop this storyline before it continued any further, but Nicholas didn’t miss a beat. He motioned for Jillian as he continued. “You need someone that doesn’t care about the toilet seat or the toothpaste cap. God knows you don’t.” He said, almost as an aside. “You need someone willing to not hold all of your little faults against you, and who love’s sex with you as much as you love sex with you." Realizing what he'd just said Nicholas made an addendum to his speech. "I mean as much as you love sex. Ugh, an affair,” he tagged onto the end trying to get back on point.

Without saying a word Miller turned to Max waiting for the confirmation of the affair and name of the affairee.

“She didn’t have an affair, Nicholas,” said Max.

Miller’s posture abruptly crumbled in defeat as all possibilities of drama were removed from the situation.

“Huh?” said a confused Nicholas. He had spun such a tale that he didn’t believe it could possibly be untrue.

“It really was the toilet. She went crazy. Psychotically obsessive compulsive-“

“Hey, hey, hey,” interrupted Miller.

Max continued as he looked at Miller “-Turns out it runs in her family.”

“-Speaking as an obsessive compulsive, I don’t think-“

“I said psychotically…obsessive compulsive,” said a wide-eyed Max fully in teacher mode, speaking slowly so that Miller would comprehend what he was saying.

“Right.” Miller said full of realization. “We’re not talking about me.” Miller stood up and knocked over his chair in the process. “Oops.”

“What are you doing?” Nicholas chimed in.

“I don’t know if it’s the toilet talk or the tequila but I’ve got to go pee.”

“You think you can make it to the bathroom by yourself?” asked Max in a sarcastic, imitation-is-the-best-form-of-flattery voice reminiscent of Miller’s own.

Miller pursed his lips. “I think I can make it.”

Max and Nicholas laughed as Miller walked toward the bathroom.

©2011 Michael Rohrer