Diversions and Daymares

by Shaun Terry

Hugo yelled across the house, “I’M GONNA GET A SHIT-AND-SHOWER.”

“Why are you telling me that? Shit-and-shower?”

“WHAT?!” The pitch of Hugo’s voice raised dramatically.

James sauntered in Hugo’s direction. “Hugo, shit-and-shower is not a thing. And why do you have to tell me? I don’t need to know.”

Hugo held a clothes to change into. “I dunno. What if you wanted to use the bathroom or what if you were having people over?”

“Well, that’s nice, but I have my own bathroom and you’ve never seen anyone else over here.”

“True. Shit-and-shower is definitely a thing, though. Think about it: what if you run out of toilet paper? Or I mean, why go to the length of wasting a bunch of toilet paper if you know you need a shower, anyway? Like if it’s the morning and you’re getting ready for work or something.”

“Well, if you run out of toilet paper, you just use something else. Also, it’s annoying when you say ‘Think about it.’ Do you assume I don’t think?”

“Sorry. Well, what do you do when you run out?”

“First, newspaper.”

“Newspaper? That’s rough. Newspaper comes first? What’s second?”

“Second is paper towels.”

Hugo’s eyes grew. “Paper towels comes second to newspaper?!”

“No. You’re right. Really, you just buy enough toilet paper, but in a pinch, yeah; paper towels. In really desperate times, newspaper.”

Hugo’s posture was erect. He appeared to be looking down at James, despite them being the same height. “I’d rather just take a shower.”

“That’s kinda nasty, Hugo. Then, you’re getting poop all over the bathtub.”

“Yeah, but you’re using soap. And preferably, you wipe at least a little. I’m not talking about intentionally getting big globs of poo all over the tub. Anyway, there’s already poop all over everything.”

“Don’t say that shit.”

“Really, if you smell a fart, it’s just particles of poop getting in your nose and mouth. There’s poop on everything.”

“I know, Hugo, but why do you have to say that shit?”

“Like, if you take a bath, you’re laying around in your poop. Poop, piss, jizz, sweat.”

James was equally sure of his position. “Do you ever ‘get a shit-and-bath?'”

Hugo realized that James had introduced an impregnable argument, but couldn’t imagine retreating, “Nah, James. That’s nasty.”

“Well, we’re just talking about degrees, right?”

Hugo knew what James meant, but he asked, anyway, “Degrees?”

“Yeah; like, if there’s shit on everything all the time, and if you’re suggesting a shit-and-shower, then you’re not doing anything fundamentally different from a shit-and-bath. It’s just degrees.”

“But you’re not laying around in it.”

“You think that the water and soap gets rid of all the poop particulate that you didn’t wipe off your ass?”

“Well, even if you wipe, you’re not getting rid of all of it.”

“Okay, Hugo. Why don’t you go shit, wipe your ass, and shower? Or whatever.”

“Yeah.” Hugo took a step toward the bathroom while he extended his fingers and thumb, covering his chin. “Do you get poop-boners? I really get poop-boners. Like, a lot. And when I poop, my body temperature lowers or something. I dunno. I feel colder. Yeah. Do you usually get poop-boners?”

James smiled on one side of his face, despite feeling that he shouldn’t encourage Hugo’s inappropriateness, “I sometimes get poop-boners. I don’t know anything about this body temperature thing.”

“It mostly happens when I’m out. Like, if I’m in some office building or Wal-Mart or a hospital or something. I guess maybe your body uses a lot of energy to manufacture and house and maintain all that poo?”

“I dunno, man.”

“I just feel like schools could do a lot more in this area, like, Poop Ed or something.”

“Like Sex Ed?”

“Yeah, something like that.” Hugo appeared to be thinking very seriously on the issue. He didn’t look at James, obviously in a cloud of profound thought.

After a few moments, James broke in, “Yeah. Poop-boners are weird. If there were a God out there, poop-boners would be evidence that God was very weird.”

“Yeah. Like, why poop-boners? What’s the evolutionary function of that? Do people have sex while pooping?”

James disrupted the conversation with unmitigated, boisterous laughter. It took several seconds for him to calm himself enough to respond. “I’m sure that some people do.” James remained distractedly snickering.

Hugo’s sympathetic smile broke down and his brow grew heavy and his eyes were suddenly intense. “Yeah, sexual arousal is strange. Like, you know how nervousness doesn’t feel so different from arousal? I think, sometimes, the thing that is almost so objectionable that you can’t do it is the very thing that most turns you on.”

James walked toward the living room, expecting Hugo to follow, which he did. James sat in a recliner, “Yeah. I dream about some really fucked up sex shit, but sometimes, I wake up and that fantasy is stuck in my head and I’ve been surprised by how much some really fucked up shit can turn me on. When I was a kid, it was even worse. I used to have these very weird sex dreams when I was a kid and they really freaked me out. I didn’t know what to make of them. I didn’t know what they said about me.”

“Same. I used to sometimes do things with men. This was like in elementary and middle school. I mean, I didn’t do very sexual things, mostly basically just making out. Maybe only making out. I don’t remember the dreams so well at this point. I just remember how ashamed it made me feel. Some kids thought I was gay, so I guess I was confused and dreamt of it.”

“Hugo, I’m not gonna judge you for being curious.”

Hugo realized how ridiculous he might’ve seemed and smiled. “I know. I’m sorry. There’s nothing wrong with being gay. Maybe I’m gay. I’ve never been brave enough to try anything.”

James smiled back at Hugo. He was tempted to make a joke, but Hugo was being vulnerable enough.

Hugo looked indiscriminately toward a spot on the wall. “I died a lot in my dreams, too. I would fall a lot — out of all kinds of things — to my death, presumably. I once drove my sister and I up into a tree. In a car, I mean. I was driving a car. Eventually, I couldn’t get the car to keep climbing and the car fell toward a lake, waking me up. I think I was being chased.  A lot of the time, I was being chased in my dreams.”

“What do you think that meant?”

“I dunno. I was a depressed little kid. I would run away a lot. I’d pack all my stuff, I’d leave in a huff, and I’d run away for a few minutes before realizing that I didn’t know where to go and I was too chicken to just walk off with nowhere to go. Eventually, my younger sister started to mock me when I’d leave. I’d always tell her I was serious this time.” Hugo was nearly smirking, but his eyes were sad. James realized that what Hugo was describing was important, and Hugo continued, “I didn’t trust my parents. I didn’t trust any authority.”

“Mhm.”

Hugo ignored James’s sarcastic expression of vindication.  “I still sometimes have nightmares, but I hardly remember any dreams anymore. I think I had a lot more nightmares when I was a kid, but maybe a greater proportion of my dreams now are bad ones. Maybe I don’t dream that often.”

“Seems possible.”

“I don’t know shit about dreams. Now these conflicts permeate my daydreams.”

“You imagine people chasing you around and you falling out of things to your death?”

“No. Not exactly. I just imagine confrontations. With everyone.”

“Not everyone.”

“Everyone who matters to me.”

“With me? What would you and I fight about? How does that go?”

“I dunno. I’m just saying I imagine fighting with everyone; even people I love. Even people I don’t know. I imagine having to run from the cops.”

“So you do still imagine getting chased.”

“Yeah. Sometimes. It actually used to be more when I was younger. Now, it’s mostly just arguments about things and how, in weird situations, I might best people.”

“Not everything’s a competition, Hugo.”

Hugo’s face scrunched sideways on the front of his head. “I’m just afraid, you know?”

James peered at Hugo.

Hugo’s eyes eventually met James’s. “I know it’s not about them. I know it’s about me. I imagine crazy things, Jim. I imagine getting into firefights with whole police departments. I imagine going to trial with my bosses and their business owners. I imagine all the things that potential lovers and past lovers might find or have found to be upset at me for and having to explain myself. I imagine being rejected in every possible way, by everyone, important and unimportant. It makes me feel sad, insecure, afraid.”

James’s eyes turned soft, “Why do you think you do that?”

“I guess I don’t expect anyone to accept me.”

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