The other day I had the real pleasure of driving to Wayne, Alberta.
Wayne, stuck deep in the heart of Alberta's Badlands--great devourer of dinosaurs--is one of those places that takes some doin' to get to. One must traverse the quaint "Road of 11 Bridges", all which are single lane, all of which are wooden-decked. It truly is a lovely drive, ripe with run-down trailer homes and abandoned vehicles that act as trophies to the excess of the 1950's and 60's auto design. At the end of this 11 bridged road is, of course, the Hamlet of Wayne, and the aptly-named "Last Chance Saloon", which could even more aptly be named "The First, Last, and Only Chance Saloon", for it truly lies in the middle of nowhere. . . safely out of reach of the World's Largest Dinosaur in Drumheller.
As I rolled in to the Last Chance Saloon, the brilliance of my green vehicle was not lost on some locals sitting outside having a smoke; neither was the fact that I'm clearly a beer salesman. . . an animal I think is even rarer in these parts than the thick-headed Pachycephalosaurus. . . though, as I would come to realise, thick-headed decedents clearly still roam. At least one.
An old-timer with fewer teeth than fingers bid me welcome, then quickly proceeded to bid me give him some beer. This is not a habit exclusive to Wayners; I've been flagged down by folks on the side of the road to ask me not for assistance, but for free beer. I've developed 101 different ways to laugh them off--and this time it was easy.
B- "I'm calling on the Innkeeper, and the last thing I want to do is start pedaling free beer in the parking lot and undercutting his business. I'll tell you what--make an appeal to him if you want to get your hot little hands on one of these freebies."
O- "Awww! Is it any good?"
B- "Now what kind of a salesman would I be if I told you it wasn't?"
O- "Haw haw haw haw!"
B- "It just so happens that I can tell you it's exceptional and still have a place saved for me in Heaven."
O- "She sure looks good! Maybe you could just sneak me one?"
B- "Not a chance! I'm willing to bet everyone in the bar is watching us--I mean, I did pull up in a bright green truck. I'll give you a church key this same green for you to remember me by, though."
O- "You a redneck?"
This kinda caught me unawares. I'm used to guys pushing their luck for free beer until I walk out of earshot. Perhaps, I thought, he was trying to buddy-buddy his way into my beer tickle trunk.
B- "Well. . . . I grew up in a pretty small town in Southwestern Ontario that wasn't renowned for its liberal ideas."
O- "Then come on over! I've got a xeroxed page of nigger jokes and redneck jokes for ya! You'll love'em!"
Then he started to laugh, either because he was thinking fondly of the jokes on the page, or because the barium discharged from the local coal mines into the water had driven him insane. I half-heartedly laughed and told him that my boss would kill me if I sat around looking at jokes all day.
Inside the sales call went smooth as could be expected for a place that serves primarily the OV crowd. But I wasn't getting out the door without another close encounter with the locals. . . this time, in the washroom.
To say that this washroom was the size of your average phone booth, outfitted with a sink, two urinals, and a toilet, would not evoke the aroma; for that, I would have to say, "The washroom was no bigger than a phone booth that, on thursday nights, doubled as a change room for the local Junior D hockey team".
As I bellied up to the urinal and let loose the fluid cargo three coffees and a 90 minute drive had amassed, I no sooner wondered what it would be like if someone else were to join me in the pause that refreshes (as my father used to say) when I had my answer. One of the 7 locals on hand decided (likely knowing the size of the facility) that he could wait for relief no longer and joined the 'outsider' for a whizz. Either that, or he wanted to make sure I wasn't stealing the shit tickets and climbing out the window without reading some nigger jokes and bidding adieu.
This fellow pee-er cozied up next to me. From behind, we must have looked like two sardines sitting in a tin, dressed for Halloween as those great monsters: Humans!
I have to say--and I preface this with the comment that I'm neither a homophobe, nor too queasy about my personal space--that having my arm pressed up against another man while taking a pee--indeed, having his zipping and own wiener-handling motions set my own urine steam all aflutter, is unsettling.
And then we started to talk.
P- "Well! Snow's a coming!"
B- "So I've been told by the weather man. . . but he's been known to lie like a rug."
P- "Har har! Ain't that the truth! . . . . For Sale!"
With this abrupt change in subject, I felt suddenly even more ill-at-ease. What on Earth could he possibly be selling to another man (whom he is touching) while stood at the urinal, both with bishops in hand.
P- ". . . . Last Chance Saloon. Real Estate ad over the pisser! Maybe I'll buy if I have another couple! Har har har!"
B- "Har har har!"
I tried to put myself away with as little motion as possible, not wanting the close-quarters and interference to cause my shoe to become the surrogate for his urinal. . . put the next challenge presented itself immediately. The sink was directly--and I mean DIRECTLY--beside the other urinal. . . basically at the right height to wash this other gent's balls in. I contemplated not washing my hands; but as a salesman of a type of food product, I felt this would set a bad example for Good Beer Folks attention to quality. Not that hands covered in ball sweat and a mist of urine would cause listeria; but still, not a positive thing.
Placing my hands beneath the tap, I calculated that they were now, roughly, 20 cms away from this other man's penis. Again--no disrespect to those who enjoy having their hands in this kind of proximity to another man's fleshy wand--but I didn't even know his name. A quick rinse was all they got--a "Fine afternoon!" was issued to my bathroom buddy--and I was away. Vaulted through the "dining room" and safely to my vehicle without reading the xerox of jokes, giving away any free beer (save the samples to the Innkeeper), and successfully avoiding touching another man's saber of love. My trip to Wayne, at a paltry 20 minutes, had been eventful.
Now, whenever I pee, I am overwhelmed with lonesomeness.