Matthew Wallenstein: Of Youth and Vitamin C

By February 10, 2021 February 12th, 2021 No Comments

By Matthew Wallenstein
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer

I was looking to move in somewhere. P was my best friend. He was in college and living in a house with four other people. One of which was the girl he had just broken it off with after a couple years. I had been staying there a week. I slept in his bed with him. We would stay up, draw, go out and skateboard sometimes. 

Our band played a show a few weeks earlier and P met a girl there. He had been talking to her since then on his computer and through text. 

One night, it got to be about 3 a.m. and he asked me if he should have her over. I thought it was a good idea so he told her to drive up to the house. 

The three of us lay in bed together. Once they started making out I turned over and pretended to be asleep. The making out went on for a long time. I realized I had to pee pretty bad. They kept on with the kissing. Goddamn, I thought, can they just get to it so I can go downstairs to the bathroom. When he started going down on her I realized I was really going to be there a while. 

This activity became loud for a number of reasons. It kept on and on. Say what you want about P, I thought, but he works hard at making people happy. So they finally got down to the activity and I was about ready to just get up and piss out the window or something. All I could do was hope for an end. As soon as that end came I got up and left the room. Pissing after holding it a long time may be the greatest of God’s gifts, I thought.

I went back up, climbed over them and lay down again, pressed between the wall and the girl. Sunrise came. As soon as the front door closed behind the girl, P turned to me smiling. 

“I knew you were awake,” he said.

“Thank you for that.”

“I was going to tag you in,” he said.

“I just wanted to pee.”

A month later his ex-girlfriend moved out and I took her room. It was on the first floor. There were a few others living there. 

P had his room on the third floor. The bathroom was on the first floor. P didn’t like coming all the way down the stairs in the middle of the night so he would use gallon jugs. He’d wait till a few filled up before dumping them out of his window or going out to the back yard to pour them. It would separate after a while, the way oil sits on water. One time I helped him by carrying one down. The handle broke off and its contents got all over me. The stink was overwhelming.

The house was a duplex. Each side had five bedrooms. The way the place was set up, P’s window sat above the room of a girl who lived on the other side of the house. He told me that she went to school with him. When she would see him she would complain to him that someone who lived on our side of the house kept dumping pee out of their window and she could smell it every time she opened her window. A few times her window had been open when the jugs were poured out and the urine had all gone into her room, covered her floor and rug and clothes and furniture. P was frustrated with her, explained to me that he always told her off, told her she was the one in the wrong.

Our bathroom was off our kitchen. One afternoon I was eating some Oreos while P was in the bathroom. He was peeing but the door was open so he could keep our conversation going. I threw an orange at his head. It bounced off of him and landed in the toilet. He laughed and flushed. Somehow the orange went down without clogging it. We went about our day and both just forgot about it. 

The next morning I woke up late. I got ready for work as quickly as I could. I knew I wouldn’t get there on time. I opened the door to the basement, flipped the switch on, and walked down the steps to get my bike. There was about 6 inches of very dark, very smelly water covering the floor. I didn’t want to deal with it, I was already late for work. I figured I would get out of there and someone else would eventually find it and figure it out. I didn’t have a phone in those days and I didn’t have the landlord’s number anyway. 

I jumped from the step I was on and landed on the washing machine. There was a broom nearby which I used to unlock and open the door. I climbed over a few more things, grabbed my bike, got riding. 

That night when I got back to the house my roommate J told me the whole situation. I acted shocked to learn that a pipe had burst and the basement had flooded. The landlord, in perhaps the only responsible act I heard of them ever doing, had gotten someone to pump out the water. When the plumber took a look around there had been an orange stuck In one of the pipes. That was evidently the cause of the whole mess. J said one of my other roommates had told the plumber that it must have been from the people on the other side of the house. He’d said that no one living on our side even ate fruit, in fact.

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