Winter 2011-2012

What I Did over the Last 24 hours

Jonathan Ames

This contribution to Cabinet’s “24 Hours” issue was completed in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 23 hours, 59 minutes.


i am starting this piece for cabinet at 9:06 am, 11/7/11, roughly twenty-three hours and six minutes after receiving the prompt.

i will try to finish at 9:59.

i am writing this directly into my aol email thing. this will affect, perhaps, how i present my piece, as i will see it in this email box and not on a blank virtual piece of paper, as provided by my usual prose-writing program.

i have waited till the last hour. i love to procrastinate.

anyway, here’s what i did during my waking hours yesterday:

i am at an artist colony. i woke up around 8 am. i went to breakfast at 8:30. it was a sunday breakfast. i ate a great deal. three eggs, a pancake, toast, bacon, oatmeal with yogurt, a grapefruit, coffee. i sat and talked with people.

around 9:50 i returned to my room and used the commode in a demonstrative way if you know what i mean, which i found gratifying, disgusting, and humiliating.

since i share the commode with a beautiful woman, a filmmaker/animator, i worried about what i had done. i took these paper bags that are meant for sanitary napkins and i waved the sanitary napkins in the air above the commode in the direction of the open window, which is right next to the device (the toilet). i was hoping to fan out the biologic scent-traces of my action. i also flushed twice which made me think of rinsing twice. but rinsing what twice? it seems that in life i recall being told to rinse something twice. but what?

anyway, i flushed twice, fanned the air out the window, and then ran to my room, hoping not to be seen in the hall by the beautiful artist. i’m the only one who shares the commode with her so regardless of whether or not she saw me, she would know that it was me who had fouled the place, but, still, i didn’t want to be seen so soon after the act.

what would be best is if she didn’t return to the house where we are stowed but if she went from breakfast directly to her studio. i was hoping for this, counting on this, but then i heard her footsteps on the staircase and perhaps even the door to the bathroom was opened. i don’t know for sure. i simply hoped that she would be forgiving. she’s married and i thought perhaps that the rigors and horrors of married life might have prepared her for such a thing and made her understanding. then i was counting on the fact that by the time she saw me next, much later in the day, that she would have amnesia about the commode. i find that most humans, myself included, have willed amnesia about these things or it’s not willed and it’s just a protective function of the brain to forget such things and to not hold them against your fellow human being, since, unfortunately, we all have to vacate our bowels.

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