Going in Public

by Donovan Irven


This was it. Today was the day that Jon was going to go in public. It was right. He felt that it was something proper to him, and his anticipation led to an understanding of the ritual it must become. He scheduled the day off work.

Because Jon experienced just being in public with a certain humility that collapsed at a glance into shame, he could not bear the thought of running into someone he knew while he went and so he drove forty minutes out of town to an outlet mall. Maybe he would get a new pair of shoes, or some jeans, since he was going out and all. He had even wanted to get his car washed, but didn’t have time, and besides, the money was better spent on the jeans, or maybe a new watch. So he got into his car, shuffled aside the old wrappings, a few loose tampons, crumbled tissues and empty bottles, and drove west.

The mall was not busy. It was a weekday, in the early afternoon. The parking lot was sparsely dotted with five- and six-year-old models, and the farthest spaces away were packed with the cars of employees. Jon parked a ways away and walked.

Inside was cool, the light, hard. Jon was nervous. He looked at the face of indifferent people. A woman side-eyed him from the movie theater box office. He walked down the hall, turned left into another, smaller hall, and there were the bathrooms. Men and Women. He stared at the door with the little man, his little blue nubs for legs hanging down. Jon took a breath, pushed open the door and went inside.

The bathroom smelled like stale urine and the acrid chlorine vapor of urinal cakes. There was no one inside. The water ran a ceaseless little stream in the back of the urinal. One of the lights above the sink flickered occasionally. The other remained boldly lit. There were three stalls next to two urinals, and Jon went to the last one and opened the door.

He turned around and closed the door, locked it, and lowered his pants. Slowly, his chin in his hands, elbows resting on his smooth thighs, he began to piss. Eventually, as his stream grew louder, stronger, he sunk his face into his hands. Himself thus disburdened, loudly letting go in the men’s room stall, Jon covered his face and wept. – Fin –


Donovan Irven is a philosopher, essayist, and writer of fiction. He currently serves as the Director of Philosophical Praxis for Filo Sofi Arts, a New York based art gallery and progressive educational space. He holds a PhD in philosophy and literature from Purdue University. His work has previously appeared in Erraticus and Queen Mob’s Tea House.



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