Standard Deviation

“The average human spends three years of his or her life going to the toilet.”

— The New York Times

Day 1

“Average,” she calls me. Of all the epithets to fling my way, she chooses “average.” It’s more odious than “unremarkable.” That I was kicked out of my Phd program for plagiarizing from Ulysses (it turns out people have actually read it — something I had not anticipated), doesn’t mean that I didn’t have the skills or the mettle, or the mind to exceed my dilettante colleagues or that I am somehow “average.” I’m glad Sally left. And it’s surprising how lucid everything becomes when I’m here writing in my toilet journal. I should spend more time in here. Collect my thoughts. Sally wasn’t right for me.

Day 3

…Wish I’d brought a pillow. My mind is racing in here. Between going to the toilet and the fountain of fecundity pouring forth from my pen, I’ve forgotten to eat. But “Joe Average” here will be okay. This will be awkward for the delivery man…it was. But the crab Rangoon from Uncle Chan’s is divine.

Day 73

I feel that keeping vigil over this porcelain albatross has weakened my resolve. But what am I to do? Mom sent me some more magazines, which was nice. Of course, I’ve given myself a mild case of vertigo by trying to see the future through interpreting flush geometry (no flush is precisely the same; this also holds true for snowflakes and cheeseburgers), so it’s difficult to read for any length of time. Yesterday, I tried to read an article in People — something about a deformed boy and a goat. The boy either saved the goat’s life or vice versa — anyway, next thing I knew I felt wobbly and woke up with the float ball in my mouth. It felt like something from a movie. What didn’t feel like something from a movie is earlier today, when, for three hours I tried to name every object in this bathroom with my eyes closed; I always forget the f’ing Loofah.

Day 390

His name is Claudio Thunderpants, née Cienfuegos. That’s what I call him now, the toilet. The walls sing songs of silent pain, the loneliness envelops me like a snake ingests a rat — clinically — and the boredom is two fire hydrants testifying before committee (I am working with metaphors. Does this work?). Ask Mom to send rhyming dictionary and The Elements of Style. Remind her that White has other books besides Charlotte’s Web. Like last year, when he wrote every issue of Hustler — double check this…No, don’t. The toilet snake is singing as the Duke of Mantua from Rigoletto. I tell him the Duke is a tenor, but the toilet snake insists on singing it mezzo-soprano. I have been going to the bathroom for one year. One year. Sounds like “wonyier,” the word for “mercurial” in Claudio’s and my secret language.

Day 877

The tank gasket has opened with Sicilian. Is he ready for the Moscow Variation (2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+)? Damnit! He is. Why the hell is the flush valve snickering? Who do you think you are, flush valve—Gary Kasparov? I think he just might be. Reminder: Ask flush valve for valid ID. Sally sent some kind of specialist over. I hate being analyzed and you’re so vulnerable on the toilet. I just pretended to be crazy. Sally used to be my girlfriend, but it’s clear she is Asmodeus, King of the Nine Hells, eternally astride an infernal dragon. Must sleep. Big day tomorrow. Going to try to read À La Recherche du Temps Perdu again. Still don’t read French, but this time I feel lucky. It’s too quiet…

Day 1,003

I feel like the kid in that movie where he goes to Alaska and dies in a bus. This is like that, but without the view and all the moose and snow. I need a priest. No, not a priest. A haberdasher. Yes, a haberdasher. Finished À La Recherche du Temps Perdu. Is it about rugby?

Day 1,059

My mother is William Faulkner.

Day 1095

What is left for me? I feel I must extricate myself from this bowl. But how? I am afraid. Something must occur. The atoms need to slide in some kind of direction. But which? This bowl has never been colder. I am lost. I feel so…what, so stultified. In the words of Claudio Thunderpants, née Cienfuegos , “What is to be done?”


“The average person walks the equivalent of three times around the Earth in a lifetime”

— The New York Times

Day 1

Jesus wept. I need to go for a walk or something. Finally made it off the toilet. Three years I was on there. Does an “average” person (Yes, I still remember what you said, Sally) make it three years pondering the mysteries of the soul on a toilet with only a Cantonese-speaking delivery man to fill me in on box scores, deliver sustenance and occasionally shave me? No. That is distinctly un-average, wouldn’t you say? Only made it two blocks on my walk. I’d like to pick up the pace, but with Claudio Thunderpants, née Cienfuegos and I now being, quite literally, “joined at the hip,” this trek looks much more ambitious. But you’ve always wanted to see the world, haven’t you? Yes, I have. Well then I better keep going. A child looked at me and shrieked in horror as Claudio and I trundled down the block.. What’s the big fuss? I thought I was just an average guy.

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