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Published: October 29, 2012
Description: BACKSTORY: For three years I worked for the Wisconsin State Legislature. My office was located in the Wisconsin Capitol building, a massive, elegant structure complete with granite columns, marble surfaces and a towering capitol dome. As nature demanded, I made regular trips to the second floor men’s bathroom. Unlike the first floor bathroom, which received heavy traffic from outside visitors and noisy packs of school children fresh off their daily ration of milk and Fruit-Rollups, the second floor bathroom was primarily used by legislators and staff. For my lengthier visits, I made myself a little routine. Whenever possible, I used the fourth and last stall, which was comfortably nestled in the corner of the room. All the regulars coveted this stall. Its added privacy bestowed a sense of privilege, and though it was subject to frequent usage, it was usually well-maintained. Eventually I got in the habit of bringing along some printed reading material to help pass the time, but instead of discarding the papers when I was finished, I thought it’d be considerate to leave them for the next attendee. I try to do my part. This became a regular habit, and at first I thought little of it. Then one day I overheard some staffers talking about the second floor men’s bathroom. They were asking one another if they knew who was leaving all the random documents in the last stall. It was then that I realized I had a following, a readership. From that point on, my habit transformed into a conscious and dedicated undertaking. After three years of circulation, my boss announced his retirement, and I knew that my tenure in the State Legislature was coming to a close. So on my last day of work, I composed and delivered one last dispatch, and that’s how this letter came to be.

TO MY DEVOTED READERSHIP:

Well, this is it, my beloved and illusory readership. Our time is at an end, and how I will miss you so. What great times we had in this glorious bathroom stall, good old number four, this confined yet enchanting space of dutiful release and humble reflection. Ah yes, those were the good times, the Salad Days, and now it is with great regret and tearful sadness that I impart to you this tender and woeful goodbye. Indeed, the Salad Days are behind us.
 
It’s strange, we never actually met. Our relationship was limited to the playground of writing and the pathos of prose. Still, I feel like I’m losing an old friend. We shared many moments here: Mussolini’s “The Doctrine of Fascism – ah that was a good one – Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”,Mailer’s “The White Negro”, and a whole slop bucket of Wikipedia articles, God love ‘em. What we lacked in face-to-face interaction we made up for two-fold in the quiet intimacy of shared self-reflection. Indeed, here in this sanctuary of floaters and private deliverance, our inner monologues were one.
 
Damn this nostagia. It sneaks up on you like a wintry chill, and in this grim, dog-eat-dog economic climate, no man can allow himself to be overtaken by the shackles of emotion. If we're going to ride out this shitstorm, we need to stamp out self-pity and find pleasure in closure. Then maybe, just maybe, we'll recover what Gatsby lost, that bright beaming searchlight across the bay that promises safety and shelter from the cruel indifference bearing down upon us.
 
So I bid you a very fond and heartfelt farewell, and I hope that your visits to stall number four brought you a bit of tranquility during those screwball days when the constituents were hot-tempered and the emails were relentless, when your boss was all fire and brimstone and your co-workers were all piss and vinegar, when Leadership staff acted liked an over-ambitious gaggle of misguided windbags and the candy jar had nothing left but sugar-free Werthers, when the office just wasn’t cutting it and you needed to step out and take a load off…. I hope this place brought you refuge and solace on those days.
 
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
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