Stuart Bousel doesn’t mean to offend you, he’s just heavily referencing not-so-gentle literary satire to make a point without having to name names or get too specific.
You know that scene in American Psycho where Patrick Bateman and one of his asshole friends are doing lines in the bathroom of the nightclub and his friend is blathering about how the drugs aren’t good and then the dude in the next stall is like, “Can you keep it down, I’m trying to do drugs” and then they almost get into a fistfight because they’re all coked out of their minds? No?
That’s basically where I’m at right now, and I’m fairly certain I’m not alone there. Turn that club into the San Francisco Bay Area, that bathroom into the local theater scene, use cocaine as a stand-in for Art or Theater or Idealism or Funding or Resources or Values or Cause Celebre Du Jour, and you get a pretty good idea of what my head has been like 78% of the time for most of this year, maybe longer. Maybe it was just less obvious in the past, but progressively I feel like there is a tension on the rise as the bathroom keeps getting more packed, the club more exclusive, the cocaine keeps ebbing and flowing and the only thing that shifts from day to day is who I am and who you are.
And you know who you are and you know what I’m talking about.
Sometimes I’m Patrick Bateman and you’re the asshole friend, and the asshole in the next stall is mouthing off about his bullshit needs but I’m ignoring it because I’m just trying to have a good time with you and bond over our common interest but you keep screwing it up by having to pick fights with people and yes, I know, they started it, but honestly, if you could hear the shit coming out of your mouth you might understand why they feel a need to say something because man oh man, is it pretentious and stupid and I know you want it all and you want it all yesterday but complaining about the stuff I put a lot of time into getting after you’ve only done one line tells me that you’re either an ungrateful bastard or trying to make it sound like you’re some kind of expert but in reality you’re so inexperienced you don’t know that nobody gets high on the first line unless it’s really really pure and guess what, kiddo: really really pure costs way more than you’re willing to spend so shut the fuck up and make the best of what we have or get out and stop hogging the straw.
Sometimes I’m the asshole friend and you’re the guy in the next stall and even though you may have a legitimate gripe the truth is you’re also a whiny drop of snot who is taking stuff way too personally and while I get that you think I’m a loud-mouthed windbag with nothing important to say, and you may even be right, I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to my friend, and expressing my standards for the bang I get for my buck is not doing you any harm, especially since you’re over there engaging in the same tomfoolery we’re pissing our lives away on and thus really don’t have a fucking pedestal to mount – which means get the fuck off of it and go back to your business or invite us into your stall since you clearly have the good shit (or think you do) which apparently requires so much concentration and focus on your end that my griping about my needs and desires is turning you into a confrontational blowhard when you would otherwise be politely ignoring us ignorant plebes and worshiping whatever fountainhead it was that made you God and leads you to believe you get to tell me or anyone to shut up and by the way, no, no, I’m not sorry that I want more and better.
Sometimes I’m the guy in the next stall and you’re the asshole friend who won’t stop talking and all I want you to do is shut the fuck up because I am trying to get on with my life over here, I’m trying to make the most of my night, okay, so even though in another context we’d probably get along or at least get drunk together, I don’t really give a fuck (nor should I be obligated to give a fuck just because we’re in the same bathroom) about your opinions, your complaints, your needs, your desires, your stupid, made-up, the-world-isn’t-fair-but-I-only-care-about-that-in-regards-to-me “issues”, instead of just going about your business doing what all of us here are trying to do which is pursue some kind of vaguely enjoyable, vaguely satisfying (or at the very least medicating) experience in relative peace for the short duration of time we have on this planet.
Sometimes I’m the other guy in the next stall, the one who doesn’t say anything, you just kind of see his head as he slips in the stall, and you’re Patrick Bateman and because I’m keeping quiet and not saying anything, just minding my own business (or trying to) while our asshole friends are fighting about stuff that doesn’t really matter, I notice that there’s something kind of… off… about you, despite how nice and in charge you’re pretending to be, and I realize that it’s probably a good thing we’ve got this stall between us and, if you chose, that wouldn’t be much protection either so maybe it’s best if we just all got back to our separate parties and pretended this never happened because hey… I’m just having a good time here, life is fucking short and I don’t want this to be the hill that I die on, OK? Or maybe that’s you.
Sometimes you’re the mirror and I’m the cocaine and you keep showing me that I have the power to make this a night to remember and/or turn all of us into monsters.
Sometimes I’m the mirror and you’re the cocaine and I feel like basically I exist for you to be spread on, crushed, divided, consumed, and I recognize that really does kind of suck for you.
Sometimes you’re the music and you’re so loud it’s making it impossible to hear myself think but I sure do like dancing so turn it up.
Sometimes you’re the club and all I want is to get out of you even though I worked so hard to get in and it can be a really fun club.
Sometimes you’re the stall and I’m hiding inside you.
Sometimes you’re the lock on the door and I just need to remember the door locks from within.
Stuart Bousel is a Founding Artistic Director of the San Francisco Theater Pub. He’s had a play about to open, EVERYBODY HERE SAYS HELLO! that you should see. It’s way more cheerful than this. He’s also the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Olympians Festival, which is trying to raise it’s annual budget, and could use your help so DONATE HERE. He promises he won’t be spending the money on drugs.