Friday, July 21, 2006

Favourite graffiti

My father likes to 'collect' license plates wherever he goes -- in the sense that he writes down the interesting ones, not that he skulks about with screwdriver in hand. In a similar sense, I like to collect bathroom graffiti. In the men's bathroom of a restaurant near the University of Toronto (I can't remember the name), there was a real wealth of graffiti, but one particularly caught my eye:
It looked so nice out this morning that I decided to leave it out all day.
This makes me laugh, but I'm sure it was not original. The men's bathrooms in Eckhart Hall at the University of Chicago have some that are maybe a little less clever, but indisputably original (at least as far as graffiti goes). In the third-floor bathroom, there is:
An 'eretum on your house
(which I have never figured out; but it appears near other such curses as "May your sword break in battle", so I assume it wishes some unpleasantness on the reader); and in the second-floor bathroom (actually in Ryerson Hall), there is the pleasantly surprising:
Shall I part my hair behind?
Do I dare to eat a peach?
I can hear the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
Of course, when one is in Hyde Park in Chicago, it seems impossible to ignore the Medici as a collection of graffiti. Indeed, its walls and tables are covered with such a mass of the stuff that I had always assumed that adding to it was tacitly sanctioned, if not encouraged, a thought which always (perhaps mysteriously) suffused me with a warm and friendly glow of feeling towards the restaurant; but a friend (drawing on personal experience) told me that this is in fact not the case, that the addition of new graffiti is frowned upon, and ever since I fear I cannot help viewing the existing graffiti as an artificial evocateur of some attitude of 'cool', rather than the organic specimen I had originally thought (and hoped) it to be.


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