6 The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, December 9, 1993
The writing on the wall
No need to take a magazine to the bathroom anymore
At a Gas 'n' Snack off of Inter-
state-94, somewhere between Chicago
and Detroit, an angry traveler punches
a hole in stall. Above the hole, some-
one has written in fat, black marker,
"Big deal. It's not even a thick wall."
Why this writer felt the need to
deny the wall puncher her moment of
glory we will never know. Such is the
anomaly of wall writing.
Your TV is so small it sits on top of
the cable box--Anonymous Woman,
bathroom wall, Brown Jug
"When you go into a bathroom in
a public place, do you ever ... you
knew ...?" My friend Mark looks at
"No, I don't," he says indignantly.
I stare at him. "Okay, maybe occa-
sionally at home, but in a public place
Never." This strikes me as odd, for
I have been on occasion to Mark's
home bathroom and have never seen
any sort of scribbling on the austere
white walls. Maybe this is something
"You write on your bathroom
walls at homed since when?"
"Write on the bathroom walls?
Whatare you talking about?" he sput-
"What were you talking about?" I
ask, curiosity piqued.
"Never mind," he says blushing,
"No, I haven't written on walls since
I was a kid."
I ask my housemate the same ques-
tion. "I did once, when I was 12," she
reveals. "This girl Susie Krieger was
a glut. I thought the world should
know, so I told them on the walls of
the library bathroom." But never since
then? "No, never."
Mike sucks dick - Anonymous
man, bathroom wall, Brown Jug
"I'm doing a study on graffiti, and
I'd like to see your bathroom," I say to
a local restauranteur.
"Excuse me?" he replies, looking
down at me as if I've just asked to see
naked pictures of his adolescent chil-
dren rather than requesting admission
to the public bathroom in his commu-
"You know, wall writing - I'd
like to read some."
He considers my request, and then
hesitantly points me in the right direc-
Heather loves Fred - Anony-
mous Woman, bathroom wall, Full
Bathroom after bathroom, one fact
holds apparent: women write about
love; men write about blow jobs.
Looking for an explanation for this
consistency, I check the library. The
gray-haired librarian suggests the En-
cyclopedia of Graffiti. It provides a
stockpile of information.
According to this encyclopedia,
"for politicians graffiti are the secret
ballot box providing clues about what
constituents really want ..." Hmm, if
the politicians read the same walls I
did, they will find that what men re-
ally want is "good head" and what
women really want is to swear pub-
licly that their love will last "for-
ever." How this knowledge will as-
sist them, I shiver to contemplate.
Also according to the encyclope-
dia, "One might surmise that they
(graffiti artists) don't have any family
or friends to exchange thoughts with."
I myself would hesitate to make such
a sweeping generalization. It seems
more likely that "J.B."just prefers not
to share what he enjoys doing with
various body parts with his mother
and aunts over Sunday dinner.
According to Time magazine, the
national cost for cleaning up graffiti
exceeds $4 billion annually. The
Brown Jug, with three of the most
entertaining bathroom stalls on cam-
pus, only spends $15 a year getting
rid of theirs.
But all of this investigation brings
me no closer to the psyche of the
writers themselves. I must attempt to
catch someone in the act.
Boo, pimps it ain't all easy -
Anonymous man, bathroom wall,
Midnight Saturday in the women's
bathroom of Goodtime Charlie's ar-
rives lonely and endearing. For two
hours, I have been furtively rushing
into stalls after their users vacate,
hungrily searching for new pieces of
graffiti. If I find them, I plan to follow
the culprit into the bar to check her
mental state, motivation and blood
But no one appears to be in a
doodling mood. Since 10 o'clock this
evening, I have been standing in front
of the mirror in this two-stall, two-
sink ladies room, making the pretense
of brushing my hair, washing my
hands and reapplying my lipstick.
After two hours, all I have learned is
that only about half the women who
enter bar bathrooms on Saturday
nights actually use the bowl facilities,
and that lipstick does indeed getdarker
coat after coat. Perhaps I'll have bet-
ter luck next door.
I sneak stealthily into the men's
bathroom and hole up in a stall to
await the noise that a pen or a knife
will make on the wooden doors. I am
pot bored as I sit there - plenty to
Footsteps. The door to the stall
next to me clicks shut. Soon I am
rewarded. I hear the noise of a pen on
the stall wall. I hear the flush. I get
up, ready to pounce on this writer.
But I freeze. How will this man
who has been sitting in a bar all night
react to a woman jumping out of a
bathroom stall and interrogating him
about his bathroom behaviors? Surely
were the situation reversed, and he
were to jump out at me from a stall
within the supposed sanctity of a
women's bathroom, I would be less
than happy. As these thoughts jog
through my head, the man leaves.
With him exits my chance of inter-
viewing a confirmed bathroom wall
Perhaps it is for the best. After all,
graffiti in its truest form is an anony-
mous art. To take away that anonym-
ity would be the death of that form,
making me the agent of destruction to
the voice of unheard populations.
Curious nevertheless, I take a look at
this man's inscription.
The newest piece of wall writing
reads, "I'll let you fuck me for $."
I don't think I would have enjoyed
our conversation anyway.
If you're looking for a reasonably priced gift, remember - you're never too old for a teddy bear.
A step-by-step holiday shopping guide
11:00 am.-2:30 p.m
Al American Breakfasts:
French Toast, Frittatas,
Smoked Salmon, and more
338 S. State
By MELISSA ROSE BERNARDO
The holiday season is upon us, and apart from the
stress of those final exams, you've got another worry:
holiday shopping. You've got 13 people for whom to buy
gifts, and you haven't got the time to be piddling around
a mall. So here are a few helpful hints designed to make
sure you have a positive shopping experience .
Step One: Your basic gift list will probably include
the following people: Mom, Dad, sibling(s),
grandparent(s), close friend(s), significant other(s). Plus
you may be involved in a Secret Snowflake exchange with
your hallmates or your co-workers. By this time you
should have composed a list of all the appropriate people.
Step Two: I call this the brainstorming step. This is the
most important and the most frequently skipped step. If
you don't brainstorm at least one gift for each person on
your list, you're going to triple your actual shopping time.
And if you're one of those people who hates to shop,
you're really going to be making yourself miserable.
(Personally, I don't understand that, but I have resigned
myself to the fact that there are some people who just don't.
like to shop. It is for these people that I say a prayer every
night, in hopes that they will come to their senses.) Even
the most experienced shoppers know not to skip this step.
So put on your thinking cap, and I'll help you brainstorm.
Mom: Even though she is your mom, and will love you
anyway no matter what you give her, she did bring you
into this world (and probably claims that she can take you
right out). It's been my experience that most moms will
drop subtle hints (or not so subtle, in the case of my mom)
about what she wants. So keep an ear to the ground. Is she
out of her favorite perfume? Or maybe she'd like a pair of
pajamas - satiny ones with flannel lining are especially
cozy. Or you could treat her to a full day's beauty -
haircut, facial, manicure, makeover, the works! Most
department stores and beauty salons offer packages for
this sort of thing.
Dad: Dads are by nature tougher to figure out. Not all
dads will be satisfied with a tie (the proverbial fatherly
gift), and most dads won't drop hints like moms. Sweaters
are a nice standby, but stay away from the Sears acrylic
blends and those leather-trimmed jobs - those went out
in the '80s. I suggest a cotton blend, and then he can wear
it all year round. If he's a Michigan fan, a nice Champion
reverse weave or a Michigan hat will surely not go to
waste. Or what about those cool sock puppets to cover his
Bloody Marys & Screwdrivers $1.95
(Both specials available Saturday)
NOTE: You can combine Mom and Dad and get them
a gift certificate to a nice restaurant and passes to a movie.
And if you have siblings, pool your resources and get
something really snazzy.
Sibling(s): A lot of siblings don't even exchange gifts,
but if you do, CDs or tapes are always good. Clothes are
good, especially if you share clothes; then you get some-
thing out of it too.
Grandparent(s): They tend to be pleased with the little
things. If you live near them, take them out to breakfast.
Spend a little time with them. Or if you live far, make sure
you call and send a nice card. And I bet they'd love a photo
of you, or a collage of photos of you and your siblings.
Friend(s): The closeness of the friendship usually
determines the price range of the gift. If you know your
friend well enough, the correct gift should be telepathi-
cally communicated to you.
Significant other(s): There should be a written guide-
line that dictates exactly what gift should be given at what
time in the relationship. Just use common sense. If you
give your girlfriend lingerie, that implies that you expect
to see her in it. Small jewelry is usually safe - little gold
earrings, bracelets, semi-precious stones. But precious
gems scream "commitment!" Now that special guy may
be a little tougher. Does he have that one Oakland A's hat
that he wears on every bad hair day? Silk boxers are also
nice; most guys won't buy them for themselves, so they
make for good gifts. Flannel shirts are great, because
they're unisex. Take your sweetie out to dinner someplace
sit-down and dress-up (i.e. not Taco Bell). And for gosh
sake, don't take the bus. At least spring for a cab.
Some great all-purpose gifts: mugs full of yummy
candy, calendars, personal journals, stationary, a Dr.
Seuss book or cartoon collection, cool toys like a slinky or
silly putty, coloring books and crayons. And don't be
afraid to buy a gift certificate. Some say it's impersonal,
but if you're totally at a loss for gift ideas, it's your best
bet. And never underestimate the power of silk, in any*
form. Everyone loves a good silk shirt.
Step three: The actual shopping. You'll find every-
thing you can possibly want at Briarwood. You can get
there for 75 cents on the bus, or $3 to $5 in a cab from the
Union. Dress comfortably, and don't wear a heavy coat,
because it will weigh you down. Grab a map from the
information desk, and happy shopping!
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