3 weeks ago I experienced The Worst 90 Seconds of My Life – seriously. I will share this with you all, primarily for your edification. And while I concede that there may be significant humor in what I will detail, I assure you that 1) the following account is true without exaggeration and 2) there was absolutely no humor to be found in any of this at the time.

Books, Music, and Shame.

It happened in Borders Books, Music & Cafe — the one on 95th Street, east of Western. Walking into the store, I stopped to hold the door for a woman approaching from behind me. She noticed and hurried her gait to meet me. I smiled, noticed hers in return, said she didn’t have to rush and then let her walk in ahead of me. It was one of those moments that while it lasted gave natural suppression to the misanthropy which too often stalks my paces with the public. Pep in step, I proceeded towards the rear of Borders, where the philosophy and psychology shelves lead into self-help and those popular new-age texts of wish-think feelgoodery, browsing along the way for titles I might purchase as gifts, later and for less at another store. Passing the magazine racks, I felt a gurgle. “No rush,” I thought, and meandered on the way to the Borders’ restroom.

"'the fuck you mean we outta readin' material?"

There, I pull a magazine from my messenger bag to help me pass the time in the feature-less stall (the over-sized handicapped accessible stall, furthest from the door). And then… he turns out the lights. Panic. Like 9 hours of panic are compressed into the few seconds before I yell out “Yo-o-o!,” to silence. Still seated, I scan for plausibility the various scenarios racing through my mind. My eyes have had no time to adjust to the dark, but I know that I have to Get The Fuck Up Right Now and handle whatever the hell is going on in this public mens restroom. There are no windows. It is moonless country midnight black. There is no time to buckle, fasten, or zip anything. I yell “I’m not that dude!,” to whoever is outside my stall, in what is probably the  most over-enunciated hood accent ever spoken aloud in a store of books. No response. Misanthropy peaks. I will not be a sitting duck. I prepare myself in the moment, and then it is GO-TIME!  Left-hand holding my pants up, and legs bowed to help the effort, I unlatch the stall door and start swinging my right arm into the quiet dark, fist clenched. “Dude, I will fuck-ing murder you,” I say, again in my best approximation of a thug’s elocution. I stumble through the pitch black, punching walls and air until my fist hits the wood of a door. I fumble for the light switch next to that door, find it, and illuminate my situation: the place is empty, my constitution is secure, and at any moment someone could come in and find me with my pantaloons half-slung in a near stupor out in the part of the restroom meant for hand washing — regroup!

I went back into the stall, finished the routine, and walked out of that bathroom past book-buyers seemingly ignorant of the nearly life-changing events of the past few minutes. I had resolved to beat a man-burglar to death within just a few yards of their den of latte-foamed bourgeois reflections. “I almost killed a man in there!!!,” I felt.  But, of course, no man was there. Whoever the asshole was who had, likely absentmindedly, flicked the light switch on the way out of the restroom as if at home, he had not stayed in that darkness to be identified (and quick-punched to death). So he may still be doing that dumb shit in restrooms all over the city, unaware of the cold sweat-frenzy left in his wake. In fact, if you live in Chicago and visit that Border’s, he may be you. Reader and friend, do not let that be you. Please, do not turn off the lights in a public restroom. Because if someone else is left in there –even alone– if that someone else is anything like me, some real serious fuckin’ shit is gonna go down in the minute and a half or so to follow.

Next Issue of Geek Blak.

“How to successfully petition your warden for a 24-hour lights-on plan!!”