Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ode To Olaf

It is a happy talent to know how to play.

Emerson
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Hello Sue
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Any one who travels around the country is no doubt familiar with the literature written on the walls of the nation's rest rooms. I don't frequent women's rooms so I don't know what sort of wisdom is inscribed there. But in the men's rooms of the land one can find some very interesting journalism.

Some of it is strange. "What's hot and swims?" can be found on a wall in a lower Manhattan bar. Some of it, alas, is downright stupid. I think I might start kicking walls if I have to read one more time "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy." Too many immature men erroneously think that remark is clever. (And some of them don't know how to spell "lobotomy.")

In northern New Hampshire where I used to live Winter means skiing season. There are a slew of mountains around there, most of them with ski slopes. The local people begin skiing when they are a few inches tall so it's a regular sport for them in snow season. But they usually do it during the week, because the weekends are taken up by the tourists, the flat landers, the ski clubbers, the second homers, and the time sharers. Hundreds of them make arrangements and reservations to come up and ski and when they get there they expect to see snow.

But there are some winters when the snow is late in coming and it's a matter of great disappointment to those who spent the time and money to get there. It's like going to your favorite amusement park and finding that all the roller coasters are closed.

The frustration of the out-of-towners spills over in many directions, some of them not so nice. But mostly they will just sit, drink and tell skiing stories or find other more private activites. And sometimes they write their frustrations on the men's room walls in carelessly worded prose.

At one particular cocktail lounge where a few friends of mine and I used to meet for a couple of drinks in the early evening, before the crowds arrived, I read on the men's room wall the following short but blunt remark, "THERE'S NO SNOW !" as if to announce to the unobservant or mentally deficient the important facts of life and weather in the north country.

Several days later when we were again visiting our drinking place, I noted that someone had written underneath that important statement, "Olaf knows why there is no snow." Ah Ha. The plot thickens. Who is this Olaf character and what does he know about it?

Sure enough, a week later, some curious intellectual, caught up in the tension of the drama, had written "Why, Olaf, is there no snow?" Breathlessly we waited to read what our resident meteorologist and ski slope authority, Olaf, had to offer by way of explanation to satisfy the curious and soothe the frustrations of the bereft. But, woe to the skiers, Olaf wasn't talking. His lips were closed. He kept his cards close to his chest. Mum was the word.

The following winter the walls of that men's room had been painted and the gripping story of Olaf and the missing snow was gone without a trace. BUT.
When I went in there (to do something that one does in a men's room) I saw written on the wall the following plaintive inscription "Where's the snow?" I couldn't resist the need to try to explain things, so underneath that I wrote "Where is Olaf when you need him?"

A week went by and then came another visit to the bar with my friends. When I went to the men's room, a condition brought on by the vigorous and fun filled consumption of beer, there was the answer. The end of the story, the final chapter, the curtain on the drama, was spelled out in definitive terms for all to see, read and ponder. "Olaf, moved to North Carolina."

In North Carolina they make snow.

Adieu Olaf, and good luck to you.

DB - The Vagabond Journey
Never give up.
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DB
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4 comments:

Jon said...

......and here I thought I was the only one who read the wisdom written on restroom walls (big smile inserted here).
I remember one long-ago inscription that was written on a wall above a urinal. It said:
"look up" (with an arrow drawn, pointing upwards). "Look up", "Keep looking up".....
Then, at the very top, it said "You're peeing on your shoes!"


Well, I thought it was funny at the time........

Geo. said...

Excellent post DB! I was going to comment with my own wall encounter in Sparks, Nevada, 1962. But Jon's already reported it. In Saprks, it was "What're looking up here for? You're peeing on your shoes." My brother opined it was written by God. Events since then support that theory.

pacifica62 said...

Who would have thought it would come to this..... writing on restoom walls. Obviously female walls to not contain the same "wisdom" or practical jokes. Mostly phone numbers or remarks about someone's extracurricular affairs and with whom she shares them.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Wonder if they write on the walls of their own bathrooms.