My Chthonic Bathroom

There’s some Magic stuff, but mostly I’ve been dreaming unspeakable dreams in my sub-oceanic crypt outside of time. ***** BEGIN ARTICLE ***** If you called me an easygoing guy, I wouldn’t be at pains to disagree. So when my landlord dropped by two weeks ago to give me the news of a week’s worth of…

There’s some Magic stuff, but mostly I’ve been dreaming unspeakable dreams in my sub-oceanic crypt outside of time.

***** BEGIN ARTICLE *****

If you called me an easygoing guy, I wouldn’t be at pains to disagree. So when my landlord dropped by two weeks ago to give me the news of a week’s worth of bathroom repairs, I don’t think I even bothered to swivel my head in his direction. The evaluation process for situations like this is quick and brutal:

Pro: Find out why, exactly, eight people will have to share one bathroom for a week. Perhaps yell at landlord.

Con: Shift the crushing weight of apathy off my chest.

The next day, my twelve-hour siesta was brought to an end by jackhammering not five feet from where I was sleeping. The walls in my house are scandalously thin. If you lean against them, you can feel them give a couple inches. It may not have been the case that the workmen had decided that the best route to the bathroom was through my room and over my bed, but it sure felt like it.

Of course, it turns out they had been drilling most of the morning, but that’s neither here nor there. They did eventually wake me.

I threw on what minimal clothes were called for by decency and stepped into the hall, noting as I did so that it looked less like a hall and more like the out-of-doors itself. Snow and mud tracked everywhere, strange men with gruff looks, garbage bins full of cement debris – these are not things I associate with "Good morning."

I decided to get gone. Whatever similarities you may want to draw between the sound in my house that morning and something like F.M. Einheit or Merzbow, I wasn’t about to start appreciating them. A criminal shortcoming, I know. Pursue beauty in everything, and all that.

The next day I had managed to get used to the intrusion, both of the strange men and of the extra flight of stairs between the shower and me. That’s more than I can say for Blake "At last pornography can be used to some positive effect!" Manders. Four times I’ve seen him, naked but for his towel, trudging in the direction of the ex-bathroom. One of those times, what had been the bathroom was now a six-foot-deep pit. I wasn’t compelled to warn him. In the worst case, Blake would make a surprised noise, turn around and walk out. In the best, hilarity.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s disorienting to see one of the rooms in your house reduced to rubble and pipe. We overheard the plumbers saying that there was apparently an extra forty feet of pipe that didn’t seem to go anywhere. Worse still, the shower was supposedly draining into the sink, and there was apparently no way for hot water to get into the bathroom.

Now, I’ve used that same shower, and I had what felt like hot water.

Frankly, I don’t want to know what was pouring down on me, or how it got there.

Deathtraps aside, my life is pretty cramped these days. I’ve been caught up in the latest fad, called "Passing your courses," and have replaced my Magic-playing with scintillating activities like staring at blank pages and skirting the borders of plagiarism. I even got some good news recently that upped the flurry into a maelstrom:

I get to be a match reporter at PT:Chicago. The real deal. The official site.

I’ve been hacking this column for a while now, and this is exactly the kind of legitimization I never expected. I don’t know if any of you out there think this is cool beans, but to me it’s like meeting Kojak’s Ghost. It’s totally taken over my everyday life, and given me plenty to worry about.

Being the recluse I am, social navigation of any sort gets me nervous. Rooms full of strangers are bad enough, but these guys are Professionals. It’s hard not to make them into more than just people. Walking into that Pro Tour room is going to be a lot like walking into the Halls of the Giants, and I am not a tall man.

I’m desperately trying to remember whether it’s the cake or the bottle that makes you humongous. Eating them both is out of the question. In all likelihood, I’d end up with a third arm, and I’m envisioning enough handshakes as it is.

I’m trying to toughen up, to prepare myself for the disdain I anticipate; "Oh, you’re a WRITER…", that sort of thing. I’m really feeling my lack of actual Magic Accomplishments. Furthermore, my relative distance from the Professional Magic Community leaves me unaware of their perception of me. Do they know me? Do they like me? Do I have any cred?

Let’s not kid ourselves. The answer is probably no on all fronts. More realistically, the answer is probably "You’re an idiot," but I’m trying to make this easy on me.

I’ve also had to work on altering my writing style. Unlike this fabulous forum, I can’t squander a week talking about my bathroom.

How’s that for intertextuality?

I’ve been practising all the standard match-reporting techniques, trying to get far enough away from the bare bones of what goes on in a match while still describing it accurately. I’ve found out that I know very little about the history of the Tour, so I won’t have all those interesting rivalries at my fingertips. I doubt I’d get away with making them up.

"These two first ran across each other yesterday at the 7-11 across the street, trying to purchase the same copy of Penthouse. They’ve been at odds ever since."

"Not since the finals of Grand Prix: Phil’s House, where competitors were forced to consume a pint of Guinness after each match win, have we seen such creative use of the attack phase."

"To see a player return to the game after being trapped by mimes in an invisible box for two years – well, you have to respect that."

These are exactly the sorts of things I could do by accident.

The upshot is that I’m constantly doing a little jig to the tune of a sea shanty that only I can hear. I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re supposed to get out of all this. It’s part advertisement, part self-affirmation, part supposed-entertainment. Take from it what you will, next week I’ll return to Magic-centric content.

It may be arrogance to suggest this, but if anyone is trying to pick me out of the crush of people for whatever reason (assassins and hoodlums: please stop reading here), remember that I have what some have called "Big Hair." If you think it’s me, it probably is.

Josh Bennett


[email protected]

No, no, it’s all part of my plan. I’ve got to save up my coherence for the big job ahead.