I once knew an older man named Herman.  Hair askew, and often sporting suspenders, he was loved by many.  By his own admission, he was neither handsome or suave, but he was a friendly and gentle soul, and God was he funny.  A storyteller of Mark Twain proportions.  I relay one of his tales for you now.

Herman was on travel.  A business trip.  Holed up in a motel where the doors to the rooms opened directly to the parking lot.

It was early in the morning.  Still dark out.  Herman was naked in his room.  He heard the complimentary morning newspaper bounce off his door.  He cracked the door open to grab his paper, but it had ricocheted a few feet away.  Seeing no one around, he stepped outside to grab the paper, forgetting that his room door was spring-loaded.

The door slammed shut behind him.  Locked.  He only had one choice.  Herman unfolded the newspaper, wrapped it around his girth, and made his way to the front desk.

“I need another key to my room.”

The woman behind the counter said, “I’ll need to see some ID.”

Herman laughed.  “Well, I could show you some ID, but you won’t like it.”

They let him back into his room.

Some people would be mortified, but as Herman said, “Hey, they were never going to see me again.”

Herman passed years ago.  But his spirit and inspiration are not forgotten because I’ve had a few of those Herman moments myself.  Situations where you just go for it because it doesn’t matter.

Episode 1

I’m a young guy.  19.  Fresh out of basic training.  Temporarily stationed at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver to attend my tech school.

In 1974, guys who had cars in tech school were rare.  But I was friends with one who had gone through basic training with me.  Murph.  Short for his last name Murphy.

Within a couple of days of arriving in Denver, Murph asked if I wanted to go out drinking with him.  But of course.

We ended up at a drive-in movie.  We’d been pretty much alcohol free for months.  Murph took it steady because he was driving, but Doug took it to excess and I got hammered quickly.  Midway through the movie, I needed drunk food.  Murph laughed at my inebriated state and told me to go get us some food at the concession stand.

It seemed like quite a walk to the concessions.  Probably because I was having difficulty walking.  Great difficulty.

I vaguely remember standing at the counter in this sickly neon glare, weaving in place, ordering 2 of everything.

As I stumbled back, I was having even greater difficulty remembering where Murph’s car was.  But I knew it was a white car.  And I found it.  Everything was cool.

I had to piss like a racehorse.  Before I got in, I wobbled in the dark to the driver’s side and set my cardboard tray of food and drinks on the hood, unceremoniously pulled my zipper down, and proceeded to do my racehorse thing in plain view.

I was shitfaced, not caring if anyone saw me or not.  And I knew Murph didn’t care.

Except it wasn’t Murph’s car.  It was another white car.  Similar to Murph’s car, but not his white car.

I’m pissing the piss of all pisses.

The driver’s side window rolls down.

It’s some guy that isn’t Murph.  And next to him on the passenger side is his girlfriend who is laughing herself silly.

I’m so polluted, and so invested at this point, that I don’t recoil.  I just keep pissing like I’m checking the time on my wristwatch.

And the guy says, “Hey, man.  What are you doing?”

I’ve got the spins.  I answer, “Takin’ a piss.”

This sets his girlfriend into convulsions.  She’s cracking up.

Then he laughs.  “Oh, okay.  I just wanted to make sure you weren’t going to leave all that stuff on my car.”

I angle my head back at him.  “No, everything’s cool,” I reply as I finish and nonchalantly put my junk away.

I picked up the food and drinks on his hood and stumbled off to find the other white car.

It was truly a “What does it matter?” moment.  A Herman moment.  Because my thought was, “Hey, I had to piss and you guys will never see me again.”

Episode 2

Flash forward to my 30s.

This time there’s no drinking involved.

My wife Judy and I were 3 years into our marriage.

We had season tickets to the now defunct Los Angeles Theater Center.  LATC was located in a bad part of LA.  You literally walked a gauntlet from the parking garage – a mix of security guards and homeless people warming their hands over fires that had been set in abandoned 50-gallon drums.

The inside of LATC was gorgeous.  The facility had once been a cavernous bank – something out of an old Frank Capra movie.  They’d chopped it up inside into multiple small theaters and every night, they presented 4 separate plays simultaneously.

The draw was not only the fact that they presented all new and exciting plays, but the actors were often people you knew from movies and TV who were happy to be doing legitimate theater.  Not only that, other actors who were famous were sometimes in attendance to see their friends.  I mean, how often do you get to shake hands with someone like Sean Penn during an intermission?  It was that kind of place.

We were there with another couple we’d invited.  The play was The Mission, performed by a trio of Hispanic guys who were frigging hilarious.

Intermission came.  The restrooms were located in the basement.  The men’s room was jam-packed on a Saturday night.  Lines just to pee.

My allergies had kicked in and I had to seriously blow my nose.  They didn’t have any paper towels, only hand dryers.  And all the toilet stalls were taken.

I needed some toilet paper and  I needed it pronto.

The theater flashed the lights – 2 minutes until the play resumed.  Dammit.  Mucous ran from my nose.  I pushed on toilet stall doors even though they were occupied.  No luck.

Until I got to the last one.  It opened.  And crammed inside was this middle-aged bald guy taking a dump.  He’d forgotten to latch the door.

Without hesitation, I reached beside him and unraveled a wad of toilet paper.

The poor guy’s mouth hung open in shock.  I was inches from his face.

I smiled.  “It’s cool, dude.  Don’t worry, you’ll never see me again.”

Episode 3

Judy and I were celebrating our anniversary in Jamaica several years ago.  We treated ourselves to a couples massage and the prep involved sauna time followed by a dip in a small pool of cool water.  The Jamaican woman guiding us had provided us with robes when we exited the sauna.

So there we were perched on the short series of steps leading into the water.  The Jamaican woman smiled at us and said, “You have a choice.  You can wear the robes into the water.  Or choose not to.”

Off to our right was an elderly couple waiting their turn.  Judy looked over at them and then back at me.  And she just went for it, dropping her robe and entering the water naked as a jaybird.

This inspired me to follow suit.  Birthday suit, if you will.  And it was quite liberating.

The older couple’s eyes went to saucer proportions.

Judy just laughed.  “Hey, they’ll never see us again.”

So somewhere, if they’re still alive, are some folks who were left with an indelible impression and had a story to tell when they got home.

I can see them now.

A hotel clerk who will never forget an old man with hair askew coming into the lobby wearing nothing but a newspaper.

A couple who got more than a movie and some popcorn at the drive-in.

Some guy who tells people, “And there I was taking a dump…”

And an old couple who got their eyes full.

But hey, they’ll never see us again.

It’s nice not to be forgotten.