Sit on it

It’s out of control. Everywhere I go, people want to talk about restrooms and who gets to use which. All of this because of one measly story about a bill to address which bathroom – Bucks or Does – shall be used by people who are undergoing gender reassignment.

There’s the cranky dude who wrote to give me a literary spanking over my handling of the story and for naming the person who started the debate after an incident at Denny’s. There’s the much nicer woman who wrote with pen and paper to suggest that restrooms be labeled “WITH” and “WITHOUT” to avoid confusion. Which, when you get right down to it, isn’t a terrible idea. And there are the comics at large who will holler out: “Hey, LaFlamme! Make sure to use the correct bathroom! Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck!” when they see me in a public place. Which is flat out ridiculous, frankly, because everybody knows I prefer to pee in the backyard.

According to my letter-writer (the nice one, not the cranky, mean guy) there has always been, and always will be, confusion over who is squatting where. “Once, in Wal-mart,” she wrote, and you know that a story that begins that way is going to be good, “in the women’s bathroom, in the cubicle next to me, a large pair of men’s sneakers straddled the toilet – then sat down. The person left before me, but I was always curious about what the top half looked like. Wouldn’t you be?”

At Wal-mart? No, ma’am. I would not.

Get a room

There’s a new face in downtown Lewiston, a youngish fellow whom I call Joe Camel. He is a man who enjoys his cigarettes. He smokes each like it was his last, seeming to derive more enjoyment from them than a man on his honeymoon. I’ve stumbled across him a few times lately in the alleys behind Park Street. He leans against the bricks, taking long drags from his cigarette and then watching the smoke float away from his mouth. He smiles each time he exhales and pauses now and then to gaze lovingly at the cigarette itself. Each time I pass him, I feel as though I’m interrupting an intimate moment. A man and his cigarette, until premature death do they part.

Joe Bornstein

Got a call back this week from the man himself. I won’t lie to you. I got a little excited hearing his voice in my mailbox. It was like receiving a message from a mythical being – from Thor say. Or John J. Rambo. “Hello, Mark,” he said. “This is Joe Bornstein.”


It happens just the way the commercials claim. Whenever his name is uttered, a sonorous gong rolls like thunder to denote that serious business is under way. It’s got to be kind of a pain for the man if he’s doing something prosaic, like answering questions at the BMV.

“Full name?”

“Joe Bornstein.”


“What the hell was that?”

I’m happy to report that Mr. Bornstein (there’s no gong if you don’t use the first name) seems like a very nice man. He’s got an office set up in Lewiston, too, so if you’ve been in an accident, you know who to call. Just don’t say his name aloud if, you know, people are trying to sleep.

AEIO and sometimes

You may have noticed odd word selections in my news stories this week. Fear not, friends. I’m not trying to bolster my vocabulary. I have a small wound on the tip of the pointer finger of my right hand. Hurts like crazy when I have to type. Thus, I’m trying to avoid words with the letters Y, U, H, J, N and M.

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