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Hungarian plumbers are all great fans of M.C. Escher, I’ve deduced. They don’t just see the artist’s creative works as pleasing concepts but more as hard-fact schematics and blueprints for their own work. In the average Hungarian bathroom, pipes protrude from the walls and lead smartly into the fourth dimension. Shower hoses form Möbius strips and, as an ouroboros, reroute themselves into their own showerheads. There are systems of shelves and stairs in each toilet bowl that you will never comprehend, and you don’t even want to look at the sink, which is upside down near the ceiling.

Climbing a pole and then rounding a glass wall, I stood in what I thought was the shower. Once in there, I fiddled with the dozen or so dials and knobs housed in a little clay cabinet, and for the next 20 minutes intermittently sprayed either scalding-hot or frigid-ice water into my ear, up my bum, and then out onto the concrete floor, while a calliope somewhere tooted that big-top circus theme song. Doot doo diddle lidddle oot doo dah dah...

When I’d had enough, I climbed down out of the stall and blew jets of hot perfumed air onto me from a white box on the wall; there were no towels in the entire hotel. I know, I asked the girl at reception earlier.

Mirrored doors pulled back to reveal that whatever space had been there before was now sealed off tight with a brick wall. The gleeful sprinkler that I believed was the shower in all this had formed a wonderful puddle on the floor in which my jeans now bobbed and floated.

My hair was still a little oily and stuck straight up. I wore my cold, stiff, soaked pants out of the room and thought my toothbrush must’ve been transported to a remote upper-plains region of Mars.

As I stood in the hallway dripping and unhappy, Ron looked up from his bunk and said, “The bathrooms are weird here, huh?”

“You ain’t whistling Dixie.”

“My turn,” he said, and pulled a towel from his luggage. “You think that’s strange, sit here and watch TV for a few minutes.”

“Oh, no. Not me, boy.” Instead, I sat on the balcony and ate a candy bar, listening to Ron’s terrified shouts and the soft calliope music.


Thursday, January 10
What Not To Wear
TLC 12:00 p.m.

I don’t understand robes. I don’t want to be sort of dressed. I wish to frolic either with my bad intentions completely revealed or covered by a comfy pair of jeans. I think swingers with boats and hot tubs are the only people who like robes, and that’s just because they can tread that line between lewd and teasing, like, “Want to see my naughty bits? I was only kidding. Or, maybe I’m not. No, only joking. Unless you want to see them.” Who has the time for that game of peek-a-boo? I have dishes to do.

That ’70s Show
FOX 6:00 p.m.

Turtlenecks are as equally confusing as robes. A rumpled woolen skin for my neck isn’t exactly what leaps to mind when I think of flattering fashion, but if it’s your thing, okay. Sadly, every school picture of me ever taken is in a turtleneck, a pair of chunky glasses, and chrome orthodontic headgear. I was one part revolting and one part interesting; the eye doesn’t know where to look, but it can’t turn away.

Friday, January 11
America’s Next Top Model
MTV 5:00 p.m.

A new favorite thing of mine is to get into a pair of tighty underpants, wet a sock and put it on my left foot, and run through Balboa Park. When the sock reaches three times its normal length and fwaps against the cement, I wave to passersby and yell “laundry day!” I shrug like “you know,” and they do too. Like it happens to all of us. Ha ha! Boy are they dumb.

Saturday, January 12
College Basketball
CBS 10:30 a.m.

If procrastinating were an Olympic sport, I’d take home the gold. I’ve got it all worked out in my head. My name is Olyana Vasilyevich, and I procrastinate for the Russians. It’s been my life’s dream to stand atop the podium and wiggle my pigtails at my comrades back home who are watching me on the neighborhood TV. (I actually looked up Russian girls’ names for that joke WHILE I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE WORKING! That’s why I deserve that gold medal.)

The Mystery of the Human Hobbit
Discovery 5:00 p.m.

Finally, something to enslave. Oh, sure, whine about rights and all that, but my breakfast isn’t going to make itself, and I’m really tired of lacing my own shoes. It’s not like I’ll abuse mine; I’ll keep it in a sock drawer and change its newspaper once a week. OH, C’MON! Stupid ACLU spoils everything.

Sunday, January 13
World’s Strongest Man Competition
ESPN 6:00 p.m.
I’m all for this; in fact, I say we carry this over into other interesting tidbits of life. World’s Ugliest Jacket Competition. World’s Drunkest Poodle Competition. World’s Largest Eyebrow Competition. And something I’m a top contender for, World’s Longest Fart Noise from the Lips Made While Digging in a Bellybutton Competition. Ah, the sting of contest, I’m ready for you!

Monday, January 14
Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann
ABC 8:00 p.m.

Stay for the halftime show where Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld tango in matching sequined vests. It’s really something when Cheney spits that rose into the audience and slaps Rummy on his meaty, old-man behind. Brought to you by Halliburton! Halliburton: Now with 20 percent more war! And glitter!

Tuesday, January 15
My Gym Partner’s a Monkey
Cartoon 9:30 p.m.

I want to own an octopus. And not just own like as in an aquarium, but own like a pony. My octopus and I will gallop off into the watery green ocean over sand hills and down canyons until I dismount her, walk around her, and pet down her clammy skin, whispering “Shhhh, girl. I love you, girl. Shhhh, that’s a good girl,” and she’ll nuzzle against me for carrots. Ah, the American dream: a boy and his octopus.

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Barbarella Fokos Jan. 13, 2008 @ 12:41 p.m.

One night, perhaps next week, I would like to get hopped up on candy, bathe in glitter and champagne, and then party in your head til the break of dawn, Ollie.


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