The Horrible Stick My Father Gave Me

— Monday, March 28th, Personal

I was heading back to Amherst on 91 today when I realized that I needed the maximum human amount of caffeine and that I have never peed before in my life. I pull into the wonderful city of Springfield, MA, and after passing 3 unparkable Dunkin’ Donuts, I find one with a single spot outside. I refuse to pay to park on a street for one moment so I run inside and beeline for the bathroom, which is locked.

I ask the woman behind the counter, who is simultaneously maintaining an alarmingly personal conversation on her cellphone, for the key, and she tells me that she can’t find it. I order my coffee (large) and listen to her tell me (or the person on her phone? unclear if I was allowed to walk away) exactly three stories about grown people leaving the keys in the bathroom and how they do NOT have an extra key and how MAD everyone gets at her. I tell her good luck in between each story and then again at the end as she continues to speak while I walk directly away from her.

I run to the Subway and I head to the bathroom where a voice screams “IT’S OUT OF ORDER. YOU CAN’T USE IT!” so I just turn around and leave, not even really sure if that was for me, but it scared me. I go to a deli a couple blocks down, half jogging, and watch the guys that work there have a 120 second conversation about supposedly-the-bathroom in another language before they tell me it’s under construction. I say “Seriously!” and they’re like yes seriously what does that mean, but I’m outside again already and they are talking to a puff of black smoke where I used to be.

I head across the street to the Springfield courthouse and walk up to the security check. There are four airport-looking military cut guys and one entirely gray-scale man who is grey, grey only, and standing in the exact center of this room. He appears to be hanging out with them but he is standing so far away from them that I’m like honestly where does this hangout circle start? I’m not trying to breach a military-grey chill sesh so I’m standing like thirty five feet away from them and yell that I’ve been to three bathrooms and that no one will let me pee in their bathroom (verbatim, too overwhelmed at this point to be professional). This is horribly frightening for them but they tell me I have to go through security to use the bathroom, so I start shoving my belongings into one of the bins. When they look at my keys, whose centerpiece is the horrible stick my father gave me, they say “you can’t come in here with those”. I’m like, can I leave my keys outside? They just say no, no you CANNOT. I’m like oh ok, so I’m going to pee on your floor, but they tell me about the library next door. I get to the library and finally liberate my body via urine.

But this story isn’t about my bladder, or the coffee, or the detour.

It is about the horrible stick my father gave me.

My father is obsessed with survival and “kits”. At gift giving events he puts together these elaborate, “thoughtful” “kits” that have “useful” components that you can utilize in a “surival situation”. It’s not that they’re ineffectual, it’s just that I am almost never in a survival situation. Zoe and I have received a “nail kit” for “on the road nail care” for not one but TWO Christmases in a row. I medium understand the goal here but I also have nailclippers in my bathroom, which I go to every day. Other potential components include:

  • Flashlights.
  • First aid materials.
  • A raincoat that folds into one tiny square.
  • A literal flintbox.
  • Forty small soapy wipes.
  • A knife so small you cannot see or use it.
  • A kubotan.

The horrible stick my father gave me is a self defense stick called a “kubotan” that typically comes in a normal, human color, but my father managed to find it in a fluorescent orange that is beyond the mortal spectrum of color and purchased a dozen or so of them. The main goal is to jab it into a sensitive or fleshy part like the knuckles or the solar plexus when being assaulted.

My father believes the kubotan is fantastic, and it kind of is, but it also kind of isn’t. The reason that it is great is that my dad cares about my survival and safety. The reason it is not great is that I have never once used it for its defensive purpose, and instead, I have had to go out of my way on more than ten occasions to get into a location with this fucker on my keys. Sometimes, as exemplified in Nancy Drew’s Case of the Courthouse Bathroom, as soon as they see it I am blacklisted for eternity. I have been condemned by music venues, restaurants, police stations, hospitals, schools, bars, and now courthouses because I am using my keys in a normal way, i.e. casually having them at all. I am a plague on this earth to every establishment because of the horrible stick my father gave me. I am a dark spot on the MRI of keychains everywhere. I, the tiny Amherst lesbian, am the greatest threat at any given moment because of my blatant keychain weaponry, and my dad is my horrible upbringing.

The horrible stick my father gave me is useless to me in exactly every way except that I can never lose my keys because as soon as its terrible light reflects into my eyes I am blinded instantly. I am Icarus in the great sky of losing my keys, and my grand mythical fall is the actual drop pin location of my keys, landing on the map of my awareness. The horrible stick my father gave me is an exact GPS locator for my keys at any given moment and this is why I will not and cannot take it off. How can you take off a promise?

Perhaps one day I will be able to call my keys, but for now I must hang my head and remain a slave to the kubotan nightmare that has befallen me. The horrible stick my father gave me has sleazed its way into my living world, and now I need and yearn for it. It has ruined my life for the foreseeable future. I will pee on the courthouse floor every day until I pass from this realm. Goodnight, be well, and please have mercy on my soul.