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HONORING MY MOTHER | Tales from the water closet

DURING one weekend at the mall, I read a graffiti boldly scrawled on the door of a public toilet, “Don’t you judge me if your not perfect (accentuated with a drawing of a middle digit)”. Amused and tempted enough to morph and turn into Safire, the grammar police,  I wanted to scribble a reply back to the vandal but thought the better of it. I’d be a vandal too, I told myself. Instead, I merely stared at the message for a long time (nowhere to look but straight at that door with the most hypnotic saying) and tried to imagine the fella who wrote this.

The daydream brought me back to a boomer joke about a beauty queen many years ago, who said, “Don’t judge my brother, he’s not a book”. Other limp variations such as “Don’t judge me, I’m not a book” followed. Eventually, my reverie led me to think I know of some artist-friends who actually write and compose music better when they’re sitting at the “throne”. But not this guy.

As for the content of his graffiti, methinks some people hate to be called out, and their premise is that everybody makes mistakes anyway. That reasoning firmly fits well inside the bowl that the guy is sitting on. One sees that machoism all the time, especially in queues to the mall cashier where cutting in is as common as colds during the rainy season. If not for anything else, that graffiti’s message is clearly one a cop-out excuse that might as well be paired with a saying in the vernacular, “kung makalusot lang (if one can get away with it)”. Many a time, telling someone to go to the end of the line merits you a blank stare, and that’s the more decent reaction. A menacing glare is another. No effort at all to say sorry. 

In the realm of social media, there’ll always be comments which are usually long and winding layers of excuses, done in the guise of rebuttals. Often, the bottom line all but suckles and weaves into that winded biblical quote about who should be throwing the first stone. In the present, it’s basic defense tactic 101 used commonly by politicians and defense attorneys. It’s in reserve storage for other professions as well. Even ordinary people make it as ordinary as toilet paper. 

Years ago when I was involved in theater, we would, after every production, meticulously assess the pros and cons of the show, for the purpose of improving on the next performance. We’d employ a method that specifically included criticizing yourself as well. This self-critique was an integral part of the exercise because it assessed your actual participation and specific role being an essential part of the whole. Everybody gets a turn then. 

The method firmly hinged on honesty (yes, it’s such a lovely word) and one must accept that he has done wrong and must therefore strive to be better and not do it again. Non-negotiable. If I met him, I’d recommend it to that vandal as he deserves every bit of this. Flush.


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