There is an unspoken shit etiquette, shitiquette if you will, among us —dump on your own turf or a public facility; not in a place where your scent tracks will come back to haunt you.

One evening, my dependable spigot with the prostate of a teenager evaporated into a geriatric piddle. I called my apartment manager, Chochiti. When he stopped by to assess the situation, he strong-armed the knobs, twisting them with the fervor of a mad scientist, each time yielding fewer droplets, asphyxiating the oomph out of the sink I hoped he’d salvage.

The sink was a sexy, porcelain vintage pedestal number with a rubenesque shape, replete with white enamel knobs with “hot” and “cold” written in weathered inky black paint. It was a supper club dame dancing the Tango. As sinks go, it was fabulous.

After much deliberation, he determined the sink needed to be replaced. He washed his hands with my sink’s final tears as he conveyed the news. I didn’t own the apartment; it would cost me nothing either way. Why should I give a shit? Sure, the sink was lovely. Nonetheless I got over myself quickly, and agreed.

Before heading out, Chochiti asked to use the bathroom. Sure, why not? He’s nice. He’s always there when I need him to screw anything (not me). When I lived in the apartment a floor above, he schlepped my 50-pound air conditioner up two flights of stairs and installed it. He moved my things to the downstairs unit for half the price of a mover in less than hour. At the end of each year, I give him a few bucks and a bottle of booze for his trouble and, sure, once I helped him fill out his application for legal residency and his daughter’s visa application. It was the least I could do for the guy.

Besides, one of my favorite pastimes is dining on Cubans and Dominicans. I’ll always need fresh meat and without immigration, I run the risk of noshing on regurgitated dick—this is not an option. Faced with granting him access to my toilet, I agreed without hesitation.

As compared to other building supers I have found myself acquainted with, I was impressed with Chochiti’s snappy attire. Ansamblays were the cornerstone of his social identity and spilled into the workplace. My building. Black dress shoes, still tapping to last night’s eight track or animal skin cowboy boots with pointed steel tips paired with peen-projecting women’s Lee jeans and a skinny gold, pleather belt with matching Pierre Cardin buckle. If he wasn’t wearing a wife-beater coordinated to match his shoes, he wore a silk, button down man-blouse. Most importantly, he never left home without his thick herringbone chain topped off with signature Cross– a cross so big that if Jesus wanted to reenact his death, he could easily schlep up and hang himself.

When our paths crossed, we always had a word. Chochiti made it a point to ask me how I was doing, how things were going and if I had an opinion on the weather. He loved talking temperature and cross-referenced ours against the climate in Guatemala. He’d drone on in his little whatamalan accent about the ladies he recently bent, whipping out a Polaroid of each from his back pocket, draped in their tighter-than-sausage casing, floribunda dresses and stiletto heels. At that point, I usually tuned out, but offered up a genuine right with a glance and a nod every few minutes. Visual aids to prove Chochiti’s sexual prowess with his various lady friends felt like a boundary we didn’t need to traverse.

As Chochiti closed the bathroom door, he closed it with too much enthusiasm and a twinkle in his eye. It was that coffee-belly shit-twinkle one gets when they’re about to have a truly rewarding private moment. I knew I’d made a huge mistake—HUGE, and that our cordial relationship was about to change forever.

A strange ass on my toilet is the only brawn it takes to bung me up for days. Germs, real or imagined, from a stranger’s tuchas are about as appealing as skin parasites slithering the length of my body. Nuturing the many varietals from my own bowels is laborious enough in the complete privacy and stable level of cleanliness of my own bathroom. I have a complex colon, one that doesn’t respond well to change. The slightest modification makes me pucker, or release pedestrian nuggets. Being prone to constipation, I couldn’t allow for the possibility of an ass besides my own to sit on my toilet seat. It was a risk I couldn’t afford.

Anxiously, I went into the kitchen and tried to convince myself I did not, in fact, just sacrifice my toilet to the Green Card Gods. Five minutes passed and Chochiti was still in my bathroom. I was a mess, and paced back and forth in front of my laptop.  Pausing to distract myself by surfing the web for gossip, vintage tzotch, and ideas on how to isolate and destroy microorganisms. As I clicked from browser to browser, one set to distraction shop, the other to fuel my germaphobia, I commentated, out loud, like Howard Cosell. In browser one: microorganisms can kill a human being! E. coli: transmitted through feces! In browser two, an auction for Guerlain perfume for ten shekels! Surely watered down!

Seven and a half minutes later, the shitathon took a twist. Chochiti’s phone rang, and echoed from my cozy restroom a Santana tune circa shiny polyester pants, chest hugging silk shirts and man-platforms. He talked on the phone to one of his Polaroid chippies, and argued with her. I bit my lower lip, rubbed my fingernails together, massaged my pectoral muscles, did kegel exercises, and squinted my eyes, glaring left, right, up and down. I was in the hotbed of a shitmare as an angry whatamalan voice reverberated through the walls. He held court on my toilet.

As quickly as the bathroom door opened, it closed. Oh God, I thought, this is it, the moment I would find out what really happened in my sweet loo. As I headed towards the bathroom, I heard my apartment manager scurry to the front door and race out.

I covered my mouth with my sweatshirt, slowly inched the door open, and wondered what morticians did to repel offensive odors. I contracted every muscle, braced to sustain a beating of this magnitude, and feared I might never recuperate. I was greeted with what can only be described as the scent of a thousand assholes harmoniously shitting in a squat toilet in a Turkish prison during a bout of food poisoning. The pervasive scent nauseated me, scorched my eyes and settled in my taste buds where it dwelled for the remainder of the day.

As if that wasn’t enough, after forcibly violating my olfactory, the laboring beacon of poorly digested fast food didn’t even have the decency to wash his hands afterwards. My doorknobs would have to be treated for dysentery, too.

In the words of my Great Aunt Fudgie, “If you’re pumping gas at a do-it-yourself station and a man asks you if you’d like a hand, that rat bastard is doing you no favors. Mind your own business. I have news, he’s trying to fuck you—like everyone else, they all want a piece of you. It’s plain disgusting, I tell you.”. I wanted to call the Feds to send in a Hazmat team. I wanted a Silkwood shower, to be that exfoliated. It seemed justified; an alien terrorist did just bomb me.

Instead, I pulled out rubber gloves, a bottle of bleach and gathered my finest scrub brushes. As George S. Patton, Jr. said, “War is a bloody, killing business. You’ve got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts.” And, my soldiers were lined up, ready for the fight of their lives. I scoured the bathroom and every door knob Chochiti came into contact with. I scrubbed thirty years of generic apartment white off the walls until I hit drywall. I used a steel brush and dropped to my knees; I so furiously cleansed the tiles that I eroded the original grout. With a cylinder spiral brush, I scoured the gut and shell of my toilet while I cursed Chochiti for dumping the contents of his bowels into my life. He sold me out for a squat. I felt mocked. He’d gotten away with violating my space and he knew it, evidenced by sneaking out of my apartment. He took advantage of the unspoken rule to shit on me.

Ten minutes later my doorbell rang. Fuck. Fuck. Mother fuck. It was him. The man, whose ass should be registered as a lethal weapon, as it clearly harbored the carcasses of dead aliens and dumped them into my toilet.

“Yo necesito Yome Depoat for bassroom. Yo here me comb?”

“Oh, I be home,” I said.

“I here un our.”

I closed the door and went into a tailspin. I wanted a functioning sink, but I was petrified he was going to shit on me again. I pounded my fists on the door and paced the length of my apartment as I conjured my plan. Okay—he was going to remove my sink and replace it with another. How long will that take? Ten minutes? Ten hours? How should I know from sinks? I’ve never had to snake or plumb any bathroom accessory in my life.

I had to remove all temptation from the seductress and I had to do it fast. I confiscated my towels, toilet paper, panty liners, tampons, Q-tips, dental floss and toothbrush and hid them in my bedroom down the hall. I removed my shower curtain as a just in case and stuffed it into an 18 quart sized pasta pot in my kitchen.

Next in the anti-shit campaign was the door, the fucking seven-foot tall, heavy wood door. I had come so far, I couldn’t quit now. The opportunity for privacy had to be eliminated completely. I had to remove it from the hinges and hide it in under my bed. I whipped out my electric screwdriver and ripped that bitch off faster than he dropped trou.  I didn’t know from plumbing, but I could unhinge a door.

I deep-cleaned one more time to give it that fresh, guilt-laden bleach scent and waited for the ass master to rear his McDonald’s lovin’ head. I had gone to great lengths to prepare for this moment; to ensure that I wouldn’t be a detainee of his appalling manners a second time. No way was I going to be a day player in “The Bold and Dietarily Challenged”, or taken advantage of, or shown disrespect by an anus or a man, especially in my own home.

An hour later, Shituardo was back with a new sink. I opened the door and graciously welcomed him in. When we reached the scene of the crime, I stared him down. He glanced around the sparkling clean bathroom, darting his eyes at his shimmering porcelain lover. No words were exchanged. He surely sensed how defiled I felt. His jaw dropped for a moment and his cheeks turned red. I knew that he was nervous I’d call the building owner, his employer, and tell them what he’d done, something I wouldn’t actually do but wanted him to feel as tense, and worried, and as threatened as he made me feel.

I sat in the kitchen and vigilantly listened to his every move. If an earthquake was going to erupt, I would’ve felt the rumble and was prepared to deport him from his sanctuary. This was war and I was staying the course, steadfast; ready to retaliate with the same shock and awe he dumped into my innocent porcelain goddess. I had a stiletto heel on one side and my dog, Louie, on the other.

A few hours later, he said, “I done. I yo.” I took a deep breath and thought for a moment. I could confront him with words or hope that the stench of Clorox haunted him enough to think before he bootlegged another tenant’s bathroom. I could also say nothing. I wondered if I would regret it if I did not speak up.

He collected his tools and swept the floor with his rag. He walked to the door and went for the knob. I wanted to stop him, grab his ear, spread it open and scream into it loud enough to make his eyes bulge out. I didn’t. I wanted to proctology hunt for him to find a cure to his sewage crisis. I didn’t do that either. Instead, I let his asshole strut right out of my house without injury. I watched him walk down the long corridor in his green tank top, ostrich skin boots and women’s Lee jeans and all that echoed in my head was the song “Stayin’ Alive”.

I wondered if any of his Polaroid birds ever experienced the same and if so, had his unforgivable anus come up in conversation. I deliberated about my decision, and questioned myself, but ultimately felt I did the right thing.

Until, a few weeks later.

My landlord called to tell me that Chochiti needed to stop by and check the fuse box and asked if I’d be home. I said, “Oh, yes,” but inside screamed, “You bet your sweet fuckin’ ass I’m gonna be home.”

Chochiti knocked and before I genially invited him in; I closed the bathroom door, which felt like the equivalent of purchasing an alarm for protection. I stood beside him while he tinkered with the fuse box a few feet away from the bathroom, asking inane questions about his thoughts on the weather and how he was doing.

When he finished, he pointed to the bathroom and raised his eyebrow, asking, “I use?” That was all I needed, “Not until you can stop abusing my bathroom, Shituardo.” He didn’t understand (I knew he wouldn’t). He opened the door. The nerve! I threw myself in front of it and said, “el cuarto de baño es cerrado para usted” (the bathroom is closed for you). And it was awesome. I stood up for my bathroom, and in the process, stood up for myself



  1. Scott Rose

    This essay is FUNNY! And that’s no shit, Schwartzie! I’m always thankful when the sink faucet handles are marked “Hot” and “Cold,” because even though hot is always on the left, and cold on the right, you just never know when you could find that one sink in the universe that’s the exception to the rule!

  2. Katie Schwartz

    Ha – Oh, Scott, you are one in a million. The quintessential wise ass. I adore you so.


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