Contestant #2 Martin David behind closed doors

“The secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow.” (Mark Twain)

SEGREGATIONS

Literati

No doubt some will take offense to posting this story which treats the prompt with such irreverence, but, as Colette said, “Total absence of humor renders life impossible.” And of course, there is a very serious implication in this entry by Martin David, who sent me this along with his submission:

“This prompt/topic gave me problems from the first time you announced it. It is a topic I grew up with in my left-leaning family. I’ve been immersed in it….I’ve marched and picketed about it…..I’ve been in jail about it. I tried and could not get my pen to work on it. Finally, over breakfast at Truckee Bagel in my new home town of Reno, I was able to find a path.”

Segregations

by Martin David

He was nervous. He had to go. His bladder and his bowels had been complaining to him all morning. He was one of the favored ones who had a permit to use the public facilities and that’s where he was headed. He could actually feel his blood pressure rise. He had never used the publics before and they were notoriously restrictive. The new segregation laws were enforced by powerful electro-beam projectors at the various labelled doors. The misty weather made his glasses keep fogging and he was terrified that he might miss one of the door signs. The first one was easy. He found the door marked, “Humans Only” and pushed his way through. Another row of doors stood before him. He chose “Male Identified Only” and entered. After that came “Caucasians Only”—easy choice. That was followed by “Mid-European Origin Only,” and “Both Parents Citizens Only.” His bodily needs were becoming more urgent and he tried to hurry. “Non-disabled Non-veterans Only” was next. That led to a narrow corridor with twelve doors. He correctly chose “Pisces Only” and went through. “Right-handed Only” or “Left-handed Only” was easy. He pushed a door with his dominant right hand and entered. The “Blue Eyes Only,” “Green Eyes Only,” “Brown Eyes Only” doors presented no problem. His eyes were brown and he picked that door. The height designation doors should be easy as well. He stood at five-feet, eight-and-three-quarter inches, but he always fancied himself a full five-foot-ten. The call of nature was reaching emergency level. If it was not answered soon, he would soil himself. He faced the door with the sign that read “5’10” to 6’ Only” and pushed. Somewhere a bell began ringing. There was a flash of light and the pain….the pain….the pain.

*******

And again, Mark Twain: “Against the assault of humor, nothing can stand.”

Hope he’s right.

Apparently the sign is a misnomer.

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7 comments

  1. Miryam says:

    Mr David,
    You found a very powerful path to relay this subject. You didn’t push the envelope too far in my opinion. It was right-on and very real. Your description of urgency was written superbly. Life at it’s most ironic humor, well portrayed.
    Thanks for your submission to this most important contest. Good to meet you on site.

  2. Kyle Katz says:

    This is a well crafted piece. You lead us to the beginning by taking us through to the end. Have we put ourselves into too many categories…to many choices that we sustain the need of simple task? Are we holding on to emotions? Politically correctness? It was risky having your talent come from the topic of Segregation, however it was always the vehicle to diffuse emotional time bombs by the most influential comics in those days. Nice work!

  3. Oh dear God, this is depressingly dystopian. But there’s a clear element of truth here: When we over-categorize, we lose common sense and common decency. Therein lies the problem of trying to be fair to everyone; it’s a Sisyphean task but an important commentary.

    Great share!

    Sunny

  4. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    According to NCSL (National Counsel of State Legislatures, “Sixteen states—Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming—have considered legislation that would restrict access to multiuser restrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-segregated facilities on the basis of a definition of sex or gender consistent with sex assigned at birth or ‘biological sex’.” This is a real issue, with real conviction potential and jail punishments possible beyond North Carolina’s HB2 not just fiction.

  5. shawnasbasement says:

    Quirky and a lovely example of the mindless silliness that separates human beings into slots and social castes. This really made me smile and demonstrates the futility of all such designations.

    Thank you!

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