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October 07, 2003

Spend a Penny, Drop a Quarter

Amazing, the things that cause old memories to surface. Case in point, the story a correspondent sent into Dave Barry's blog about urinal pennies.

Years ago I was home from college for the summer. Some friends and I went to a bar in Houston to hear a band. After an hour or so, I went to use the bathroom. While I'm standing at the urinal, I reach into my pocket (obviously I was using a one-hand technique) and pull out a penny, which I place on top of the silver flush valve above the urinal.

I don't know why I put a penny on the urinal, although it's remotely possible that consumption of multiple malted beverages played a role. I think I told my friend that I was leaving it as a tip. In any case, I returned to the table for more music and liquid refreshments.

A little while later, I went to the men's room again, and the penny was gone! So I left another one. (What else could I do?) When I told my friends back at the table, they couldn't believe someone would take a toilet penny. But for the rest of the night, any time one of us went to the bathroom, we left a penny on top of the urinal. And every time we went back, it was gone.

Now, far be it from me to cast aspersions, but...a penny?


The Sainted Wife and I met at one of downtown Chapel Hill's older bars, Bub O'Malley's, though when we met there was still a bit of new kid on the block air to the place. The carpets had only been replaced once, for instance, and the original owners were still running the place.

One of the attractions Bub's had at the time, especially for the male patrons, was a urinal trough, an appurtenance that allowed for a rapid and steady flow of traffic in and out of the bathroom during the commercial breaks of televised basketball games.

During one such interval, I inadvertently dropped a quarter into the thick liquid at the bottom of the trough while fishing out pocket change. It sat there, gleaming up at me through the stew of bubbles, cigarette butts, random curls of pubic hair and other, less identifiable bathroom debris.

I conteplated rescuing it from the melange of liquid it had fallen into, then decided against it.

"The hell with you," I said, giving the likeness of our first president a thorough irrigation.

When I returned some time later the quarter was still there. Being somewhat more flush with cash that was usual, I decided to embark on a scientific experiment, and threw in another two bits. The group I was, at least the male part of it, proclaimed my idea a work of some genius, with all pledging to donate either coin or liquid to the cause the next time a call of nature took them to the bathroom.

This went on until the princely sum of $2.75 decorated the metal bottom of the urinal trough. It was all gone when I next returned.

For the next month we attempted in vain to raise the monetary value of the coins within the trough past that mark before they all vanished, yet were unable to, even when we recklessly threw entire dollar bills into the trough muck.

The practice finally came to an end when I happened to run into one of the bartenders, troughside, one evening, who was aghast at my actions.

"You're the reason all our goddamn money is wet night after night! You asshole!"

I started to protest, but he swore that the next time he touched wet money, my next pitcher of beer was getting a visit from Mr. Thumb and his four friends before it arrived in front of me.

So we stopped, aside from the occasional quarter or two in the restrooms of strange bars.

So if you see a quarter in the urinal one day, you'll know one of the Bub's crew has been there before you.

Posted by Bigwig at October 7, 2003 04:33 PM | TrackBack
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