Potty Paintings

    The next time you feel nature calling, or have the chance to take the Browns to the Superbowl, take a look around. What you will see are the thoughts and aspirations, as well as a slew of social criticisms, inscribed in both Sharpie and Bowie knife, of those who have gone before you. And I hope you’re not easily offended, otherwise you will have to take your business elsewhere.

    Before the advent of online diaries, otherwise known as “blogs,” bathroom stalls were one of the few public outlets where a person could give free reign to his innermost thoughts while still in relative privacy. Knowing that they were hidden from their immediate peers, would-be revolutionaries would inundate the walls of porcelain throne rooms with discographies of rock bands of the day, such as AC/DC and Motley Cr퀨͌_e. “Yo’ mama” jokes abounded, and phone numbers of especially promiscuous men and women were common not only in the bathrooms of the Mexican cantina, but the local elementary school as well. And then there are the graphic yet simple illustrations of the human body posed in a variety of suggestive and titillating positions.

    So why do people insist on rendering images of men and women engaged in brazen acts of sexual congress? Believe it or not, the impetus that drives these (water) closet artists may be the same as that which inspired the Paleolithic cave dwellers of Lascaux (that’s in France, by the way) to scrawl large images of buffalo and rhinos on the ceiling walls of their refuse areas. Art historians believe that these people of long ago may have created these illustrations as part of a magic ritual that would give them power over the beasts they desired to hunt. The same could be said of the guy, or girl, who sketches out a woman or man gladly accepting, into some particular body opening, a crudely shaped phallus.

    The most obvious difference between the graffiti in the caves of Lascaux and the restroom booths in which you excrete unwanted waste, aside from location and lighting, is their age. Despite the fact that places such as Lascaux are considered hallowed because older is usually thought to be better, there is little difference when it comes to illustrative quality. Much like the rings of a tree show us how old it is, these walls still hold remnants of graffiti created by fellow students weeks if not years ago, which janitors have never quite managed to wipe out. In some cases you can still read portions that provide a chuckle as well as a clue to when they were created.

    For years now, the student body of PSU has been developing, albeit unofficially, it’s own homegrown brand of graffiti. If you are a male on campus and have had the opportunity to visit the restrooms on campus, you have no doubt encountered grout humor. Grout humor consists of recognizable names and phrases, altered to accommodate the name of the surface on which they are written. Current entries on the grout of the tiled walls include: “Oscar the Grout,” “Grout-cho Marx,” “The Grout Gatsby” and my personal favorite: “Frosted Flakes – they’re Grrrrrr-out!”

    Use caution when listening to your iPod in the restroom. Tapping your toes to the music on your headphones may indicate to the person next door that you are there for more than just business as usual. This text scrawled onto the base of a certain campus bathroom stall originally read: “Tap foot 4 BJ.” Though it appeared several weeks ago, janitors failed to remove it. Then recently the text was co-opted by another graffiti artist, and reworked to read: “Tap foot 4 PB+J.”

    If you are thinking about adding your thoughts to the walls, please consult with facilities first. Let’s work together to keep the janitors’ extra cleaning tasks to a minimum. Happy reading!