During my time at the University of West Georgia, I would occasionally run in to people who I went to high school with. Most of these people were simple acquaintances in high school, but when we got to college and we’d see each other we talked considerably more in one day than we had in a couple of weeks back in high school.
Although I didn’t typically know these people very well, I knew them much better than the thousands of others at my college that I never spoke to.
The most notable of these occasional encounters with high school acquaintances was with Cameron, who would end up becoming one of my closest friends. I had one class in high school with Cameron, Advanced Placement U.S. History. He wore a lot of FUBU — a clothing line marketed toward black people — a lot of flashy fake jewelry and was a huge rap fan. My brother recalled seeing Cameron leaving the parking lot of our high school with his 1991 Lincoln Continental, packed full of people, blaring rap music and grinning from ear to ear.
We sat a fair distance away from each other in class and didn’t have very much interaction, but we definitely knew who each other were.
That was when I was in the 11th grade, and I didn’t see very much of Cameron my senior year of high school except when I’d run across him in the hallway selling candy from a duffel bag during class change. I eventually graduated high school and went onto college and of course since Cameron was a grade below me, I didn’t see any of him at college either. That is, until my sophomore year at West Georgia. I ran into Cameron in one of the buildings where we had class at the same time, and since we knew each other from high school we struck up a conversation.
I don’t remember the verbal exchange word for word, but I’m sure I asked him if he was still black and he probably asked me if I still wore those funny hats that I used to wear to all of our high school football games. As shy as I was, I still loved drawing attention to myself with crazy hats, like my Rocky and Bullwinkle hat and — my personal favorite — a hat that looked like a football field. Come to find out, Cameron had always admired my hats and I’m sure he was just as excited to be talking to the crazy hat guy as I was just to be talking to anyone while on my college campus.
Cameron and I continued to hang out before and after class and in a short matter of time we began hanging out outside of school on a regular basis. As young, intelligent college guys we both loved two things: knowledge and pretty girls.
After a while we came up with the perfect activity for the both of us. Hooters restaurants, known for pretty women, held trivia nights once a week. So every Tuesday night we’d drive up to Hooters and play trivia and sip water for a couple of hours and ogle the waitresses until we’d finally lose the trivia game and go home.
One night, after a rousing game of trivia, we left the restaurant about 10 o’clock and headed to my car — a shiny, red 1989 Camaro. I realized that I had to go to the bathroom, but I didn’t want to go back in the Hooters just to go to the bathroom (the pretty waitresses would whisper about all the water I drank and how cheap I was, and that would be embarrassing — plus, drunks don’t have the best aim), so we decided to head next door to Wal-Mart.
I drove from the parking lot of Hooters out into the Wal-Mart parking lot and parked in the fourth closest space to the entrance. Cameron and I walked into the acclaimed discount superstore and headed to the left, toward the public restrooms. We both went in at the same time and wound our way around two corners and entered the white, tile-covered lavatory.
There were two urinals separated by a blue partition on the left side and a stall with a conventional toilet to the right. To the right of the first complete stall was a larger stall for handicap access. No one was at the urinals or the first stall, but the handicap stall door was closed and there was a pair of feet, with shoes on, visible below the stall wall.
Cameron and I stepped up to the adjacent urinals and began doing the only thing guys can do at urinals. Out of nowhere, well out of the handicap stall, came a Neanderthal-like grunt. Cameron and I both smirked and laughed under our breath a little. Then we heard it again, this time louder and more anguish sounding than the first.
“Arrrgh. Ummmph! Errraaah!”
We both started laughing almost uncontrollably at this point, so we zipped up and hastily left the bathroom.
“Oh my God. That’s the strangest thing I’ve ever heard,” Cameron said.
“Yeah. I’ve never heard anything like that before. I mean, what could someone have eaten that would have made them do that?” I asked.
“I don’t know man, but I didn’t finish peeing and I’ve really gotta go. I’m going back in.”
Cameron walked back in and I waited outside, watching the entrance closely just to make sure the grunter didn’t come out without me getting a good look at who was causing such a ruckus in that stall. A couple minutes later, Cameron came out holding his stomach and laughing like I’ve never seen him laugh before.
“What happened? Was he still making the noises? Did you see him!?” I inquired.
“No. Well, yes. I mean no,” he said.
“What?” I said laughingly. I was still very amused although a bit flustered that I couldn’t figure out what had happened.
“Yes, he’s still making the noises,” he got out between bursts of laughter. “But he started banging on the wall of the stall!”
“No he didn’t!” I said laughing with disbelief. “Why would anyone do that!? We’ve got to wait and see who comes out of this bathroom. I’ve never heard of anything like that.”
“Yeah, I’ve got to see what this guy looks like.”
So we stood at the side of the bathroom, looking very conspicuous, every now and then giggling like school girls. We waited and waited for what seemed like forever. Although I’m sure it seemed longer to the guy groaning and banging on the stall, it was probably five to 10 minutes.
Just as we were about to go back in the bathroom to check on our “friend,” he emerged. He was a thin, black man — about 5’10” and appeared to be in his early 30s. He left the bathroom and walked toward the exit of the store like anyone else that comes out of a bathroom, but Cameron and I knew his secret.
We knew that while he looked like he had just taken a normal bathroom break, what he did in that bathroom didn’t approach anything normal. After evaluating him for a minute or so we decided that our mission was complete and we started to head out toward the door.
Then another man came out of the infamous bathroom. He was an older man, white, about 50-60 years of age with the same build as the younger black man.
“Cameron,” I asked, “was there someone else in the bathroom when you went back in?”
“No,” Cameron said, stunned. “I checked the other stall. There was just that one guy in the handicap stall.”
“One guy? Two guys came out of that bathroom and there was only one stall door closed,” I corrected him.
My mind raced with the possibilities of what could have happened. I had watched the bathroom door the whole time after Cameron had come out with stories of grunting and banging on stalls. Either someone had sneaked in the bathroom without me noticing — which would have been very unlikely, because I was watching that bathroom like a hawk — or there were two guys in one stall.
We only saw one pair of feet in the stall, which also complicated things.
However, if there were two guys in that one large stall and there was grunting and knocking going on in there, there was only one thing I could think of that was happening. I was a little disgusted, and a lot amused. The thought of two men of such different ages and ethnicities meeting in a Wal-Mart store bathroom of all places for some sort of illicit rendezvous was more than Cameron and I could handle.
We laughed until we got to my car and I was laughing so hard once I got in the car that I couldn’t drive away. So, we sat in the car and laughed for about half an hour. I don’t even think we talked. It was, to this day, the funniest thing I’ve ever experienced. I keep thinking and hoping that maybe we blinked or turned for just a second to look at something else and one of those guys entered the bathroom without us noticing. But the time frame was so small and the alternative story so entertaining that we just admit that we’re really not sure about what happened in that bathroom that Tuesday night. I still haven’t heard anyone else grunting like that or banging on the walls, not once in all the many times I’ve used public facilities since then.
And I always look closely at the stalls, just to make sure there is one pair of feet in every occupied stall in every public bathroom I go in.