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by Randy Cromwell

Just what the hell am I doing
in Lake Geneva at eight-thirty on a Sunday Morning?
What the hell am I doing being aware that there even is an
 eight-thirty on Sunday mornings?
Cows eat pumpkins.  Well, at least one does.
The dream was a metallic cherry red
 futuristic sports car, with a front end
 that had to be twenty feet long, and about three feet wide.
Am I missing phone calls by being here?
This lake is bigger than my whole hometown, and not one place to rent
 a friggin' boat.
Is everybody in this goddamn state half a couple?
(Or is that the goddamned state?)
How come I never knew that cows ate pumpkins?
The water looks cold.  How can it do that?  But it does.
It looks cold, and choppy, some waves even a foot high, and whitecaps.
The passenger compartment of the car levered open like the cover
 of a good pocket-watch -- smooth and quick and quiet.
The driver stepped out; the passenger side was empty.
She was a tall, slender, youngish, Asian-looking woman.
The waitress said Elmer Zingle rents boats, if you can ever find him.
As she finished her sentence, a blue Suburban drove by,
 and she said, "That's Elmer Zingle, right there!"
Do I bring the weirdness with me,
 or do I just wake it up when I get somewhere?
I went to a park, a long time ago, with a couple of female friends.  I had never been there before, and they had.  I needed to relieve myself.  I asked them where the restroom was, and they pointed to a large building a few hundred feet away.  I walked to it, and, while there were a lot of people around it, I did not see any males.  I thought it was strange, but the pressure was intense, so I walked through the door.
Actually, I opened it first.  No need to go breaking structures when one is already making this much of a spectacle of oneself.  Inside, it was the same story: lots of females, no males.  I did what I was there for; I walked past all the staring women -- it feels like there were maybe twenty or thirty people in there.  Big bathroom.  I walked to a stall, and waited for the current occupant to finish her business.  (By this time, I was pretty much assuming it was a woman, though I was still desperately hoping that I was not the only male participating in this stupid French unisex bathroom experiment.)  I walked in as she walked out, and nobody even yelled, "Hey!  No cuts!"  I never once acknowledged the shock I felt emanating from her like a fry cook's body odor.  I avoided her eyes as assiduously as I had the eyes of every other person in that establishment.  (Is a public restroom an establishment?)  I shut the stall door behind me and, rest assured, I slid that bolt home hard.  I then faced the opposite direction of everyone else who had ever used that particular appliance.  Even people who had missed my grand entrance had to know that there was a male in  their midst.  Or maybe, on seeing those shoes under the stall, they just assumed that I was one of those girls who faces the wall when she pees.  Or maybe that God had put my feet on backwards.  They didn't have long to think about it, though.  I pissed fast!  As fast as humanly possible, and then some.  And you can bet your ass and mine that nobody but me will ever know whether or not I cut any cheese while I was pushing that hard.  Silence was the only saving grace I could hope for at this point.  And silence wasn't very likely anyway, considering the circumstances.  Even though I'm not all that tall, that toilet had to have been built for a midget's child being potty-trained.  Going that much, that hard, that far, makes a lot of noise in an otherwise silent restroom.  (Is this a stream-of-consciousness writing?)  No, I was not silent -- I was making the sound of a veritable deluge.  Those women were thinking of shipbuilders and pairs of animals by the time I was done.  Still, it didn't take vary long.  I zipped up quick, yet oh-so-carefully.  I sincerely did not want to have to say, "Hey, could any of you help me get unstuck?"  No, I just finished my business, straightened my back, and walked out of that stall with a look on my face that said, "I meant to do this!"  I marched through that bathroom, again without meeting anyone's eyes.  As soon as I hit the door -- well, no, just gently and firmly and quickly pushed it open -- I sprinted for the hills.  I snuck back to the car later, and have never said a word about my little adventure until now.  Several years later, I realized that had I had the patience to walk around to the other side of the building, I would surely have found the men's facilities.  So, now, just to be safe, rarely do I allow myself to get too far from the woods, where I know only the trees will laugh.
She was aristocratic, and sophisticated, and even arrogant.  And beautiful, though not even close to my type.
Why didn't the other cow eat any pumpkins?
Wisconsin has signs all over that say: "Slow....Children."
Why would they brag about this?
I passed one of these signs, and immediately thereafter saw a large company called "Cheese World."
Go figger.
I never saw Elmer Zingle again, but I did see his Suburban.  But, by then, I had decided that, yes, I was definitely missing phone calls.
It was like I could never touch her
Unless I could tell her a good story, either extremely interesting,
or exceptionally humorous.
The entire universe had been boring her for a very long time.
At first I thought the cow was just nuzzling the pumpkin.
Maybe that would have been worse.
I also saw a place called "The Cheese Box."
I don't even want to go into that one.
Sorry.  I wouldn't have slipped a pun into this mess, would I?  Well, not just one.
At least our "slow children" are "playing."
Feed your kids nothing but cheese,
And their brains rot, and they don't play anymore.
Even though I had not told her
Any interesting stories,
And seemed in no danger of doing so anytime soon,
The ice in her façade seemed to soften
By just the tiniest fraction of a degree
And without ever one word between us,
She allowed me to walk with her.
Maybe she believes that, someday, I'll tell her a good story.
I don't think it will be this one.

© 1995 by Randy Cromwell

from the premier issue of PITH, Summer 1995



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