The 17-Toilet Protest

 

… and more noble, just, and otherwise unerringly virtuous acts from God’s most glorious creation: dudes.

In these volatile times, many men take seriously the political label they attach to themselves, be it “conservative,” “liberal,” or “other.” Each camp holds differing views, of course, but perhaps everyone can agree on one thing: all men have an occasional tendency to the asinine, a condition that transcends mere politics.

Exhibit A: a resident of Boise, Idaho (population 205,671), whom we shall call, because it is his name, Daniel S. Damico.

Mr. Damico, 25, is alleged to have stolen a wallet while filling out a job application, according to a March 23 report on the website of the Idaho Statesman (“Idaho’s #1 Website for News and Information”).

Stealing wallets while applying for jobs is not wholly unusual; these are hard times.

What is unusual, and perhaps not overly bright, is that shortly after the alleged theft, Mr. Damico allegedly bought “tobacco from two stores,” as the Statesman put it, and he did it using a credit card from the stolen wallet.

Even more unusually, after Mr. Damico lost his wallet at one of the stores, he decided that the most prudent course of action would be to call police and report it missing.

It is perhaps not without irony that officers who received news of Mr. Damico’s plight were on their way to speak with the man whose wallet Mr. Damico had allegedly stolen. They decided first to stop and interview Mr. Damico about his loss.

“Once officers began talking to Damico,” the Statesman reported, “they quickly determined he met the description from the other case and identified him as a suspect.”

Charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor, Mr. Damico faces up to 15 years in prison.

It is hard to know what drives men to do such things. Perhaps Mr. Damico allegedly stole the wallet because he is a politically freethinking sort. That, anyway, is the theory of a person who goes by the magical moniker of “Shazam.”

Mr. or Ms. Shazam left the following comment on the Statesman’s website, referring to Mr. Damico and his alleged crime:

“Obviously a liberal. Begrudgingly goes in to apply for a job that he believes works him too hard and pays too little, then sees some ‘free money’ and considers it an entitlement. Much better than actually having to work!”

This is a fascinating hypothesis. Also, it is a surreal one. It has very little to do with the reality of the case at hand, and has the added advantage of precluding any need for critical thinking or empathy for the struggles of others.

For these reasons, we admire it deeply.

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The “he-is-a-liberal” theory may apply to Ricky Vaughn Barry, 60, also from Boise, who was sentenced March 23 to a year and a day in prison, the AP reported March 24.

Apparently, Mr. Barry impersonated his ex-wife in a telephone call with a Tempur-Pedic dealer, and then used her credit card to purchase a mattress and a laptop.

That Mr. Vaughn was able to dupe company officials on the phone by employing a female-sounding voice suggests that he is, in effect, gender-neutral. This alone qualifies him to be a “liberal.”

But that he abused the financial well being of a female does not. It simply suggests he is a man with a grudge against women. Do men who identify as “liberal” begrudge women? We do not know. If they do, however, we are certain that many men who consider themselves “conservative” would be only too glad to give the “liberal” men tips on just how to carry the grudge into the courts and beyond.

On a side note, given that Mr. Vaughn lived in Boise and once hailed from Coeur d’Alene (population 44,137), we are sad to note that his case was reported locally neither by the Idaho Statesman nor the Coeur d’Alene Press (“The Community’s Most Trusted Source of News”).

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At what age do men begin to identify themselves politically? Is it the age at which they first feel compelled to lie to cover for their mistakes?

We wish we could ask a Utah lad, aged 14, who goes unnamed in a March 23 Associated Press report. He told police that a bullet grazed him mid-leg, adding that though the projectile inflicted no damage to his person it ripped a hole in his brand new jeans.

Sadly, it turned out the boy was fibbing. He feared getting in trouble for tearing the trousers.

The AP reported that a Salt Lake City police sergeant who goes by the particularly agreeable name of Mikael Wersland told the Salt Lake Tribune that the teenager suffered naught but a “scrape where he fell down.” The sergeant added that no fewer than 10 witnesses told police they heard no gunfire in the area at the time the boy claimed the shooting happened.

This is as much as we know, so we are left with the question of who the boy feared would get him in trouble. Was it the jeans manufacturer? Was it fashion-conscious peers who may consider 1980s-style ripped jeans passé? Was it school officials terrified of a riot of individuality among students who they think will see the boy’s clothing choices as super-trendy?

Or did the boy simply fear the disappointment of his hard-working parents, for whom purchasing a new pair of jeans might strain the family budget?

Alas, we shall never know. But 14 can be an awkward age, and therefore is one at which any positive action should be supported. With this in mind, we laud the boy’s story of guns and bullets and shredded jeans. That sort of narrative takes no little measure of originality.

We are only given pause by the thought that his story might have been spurred by overexposure to violence-saturated video games. Or maybe it derived from a sort of free-floating rage that Justin Bieber, also a teenager, is a multi-kajillionaire even as this young man has to lie to cover for ripping a new pair of jeans.

Either way, the Utah boy is learning a valuable lesson: life is unfair. This is true even for Mr. Bieber, who is 17. One day in the next seven or eight years he will enter puberty. At that point his voice will change, and with it his fortunes. True, this is cold comfort for trouser-shredding boys the world over, but it’s something, at least.

On a side note, the AP stated that the information for its report came from the Tribune. A cursory search of that paper’s site, however, turned up no locally reported story. This sort of thing is dispiriting beyond belief for correspondents who spend the dwindling time left to them on Earth laboring to write well-sourced if whimsical items about foolhardy men and boys. Readers expect better, save perhaps those who have lost their senses of humor and self-deprecation, character assets that grease the oft-jagged skids of life.

In addition, the AP did not indicate whether or not the boy identified his political affiliations, “liberal” or “conservative,” or “other.” If he did and the AP did not report as much, it was a journalistic oversight of monumental proportions, one that explains why readers have fled newspapers in droves.

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Are the town fathers of Kittery, Maine (population 5,185), “liberal” or “conservative” or “other?” We do not know, and we are simply too lazy to find out.

We do know, however, that recently they closed the recreationally named Frisbee Elementary School. We know, too, that they made additions to the Shapleigh Middle School, at 43 Stevenson Road. We know these things because the Foster Daily Democratic reported them on March 24.

To accommodate the additions to Shapleigh, the town fathers approved a widening of Stevenson Road. This has aggravated a plumbing contractor named David Linscott, who lives nearby. Mr. Linscott fears excess traffic and parking calamities, and claims the road-widening should not have been approved because the town neglected to follow proper bureaucratic protocol.

Mr. Linscott settled upon a distinctly creative approach to protesting the decisions: he has lined his large front yard with 17 toilets.

We think that lining a yard with multiple toilets is a fantastic way to protest anything. In fact, we think that lining a yard with multiple toilets is a fantastic thing to do, period.

We do not know whether this makes us “liberal” or “conservative,” or “other.” We just know we like the word “toilet.” Saying “toilet” leaves us flushed with pleasure.

That suggests that there is a little bit of 14-year-old boy even in the most “liberal,” or “conservative,” or “other” man, self-deprecating or not. This is true whether the man speaks softly and carries a big stick or he speaks softly, like a woman, to order a comfy mattress upon which to recline while perusing Foxnews.com or the Huffington Post on his new laptop.

After all, politics are of the moment, but pilfered wallets, ill-gotten computers, and Justin Bieber are forever, or until puberty descends.

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Dave Ford is a San Francisco writer whose work has appeared in Spin, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, SF Weekly, The Advocate, and a host of other periodicals. He writes the blog First of All, and is a certified yoga instructor who teaches at various venues in his home city.

 

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Illustration by Bion Harrigan. Bion Harrigan keeps his head firmly planted in the clouds and has done so since the earliest days of a youth misspent idly daydreaming, reading Mad magazine, and drawing scary monsters and super creeps. He continues to spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming and drawing at his home in Maplewood, New Jersey.

 

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Other dudes, who, previously, have been “in the news”:

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Purloined Prophylactics and Plucked Ducks

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Naked Quad Run Alternatives

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How to Trap Yourself in a Bank Vault

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Ohio Beef Hat o’ Love

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Uphill Skiing and a Sock Full of Drugs

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High-School Wrestlers Bash Roadside Raccoon

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Don’t Leave Your Phone at the Crime Scene

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Comments

  1. “Flushed” with pleasure? Oh, you pun-ishing scamp…

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