1/6/2013: Cuspidor

The cuspidor sat in the corner of the barroom listlessly, waiting for the night to pick up and dreading the night’s activity. He had done his job dutifully each night the bar was open for the last twelve years. He had been knocked over, stepped on, swung about, and spit in more times than anyone could count and tonight would be no exception. The night usually started dry enough. An old man or two would wander in during the early afternoon, a few of the unemployed men would show up usually around four. A few of the old men chewed, but they had rather good aim (likely from years of practicing) and the men without jobs wouldn’t waste their money on chew. Once the sun set, however, the place would fill up rather quickly and usually wouldn’t settle down until closing. That’s when the headache started. The crowd would liven up and men would begin chewing their tobacco, smoking their pipes, and hacking their phlegm, and the cuspidor knew just where it was all going to wind up. It wasn’t a dignified job, but it was necessary. It wouldn’t have been so bad if a few of the patrons took a few moments to appreciate the service he provided them, but that was never the case. Often times a fight would break out and someone would kick him over accidentally. Sometimes they would purposefully punt him across the room, and once in a blue moon someone would heave the cuspidor up and dump his contents on someone’s head. The recipient of the muck would be furious, he would cuss and knock him back into the middle of the fray for even more abuse. Sometimes the word “spittoon” would be brought up. The cuspidor hated that word. It offended him.

One day the barkeep opened up the doors and came in carrying a shiny new cuspidor. The old one became very nervous, because even though he hated his lot in life, he wasn’t exactly sure what would become of him if he came to outlive his purpose.  The barkeep picked him up and placed the new one in his usual spot. The new cuspidor seemed almost excited to be there, but the old cuspidor knew that wouldn’t last very long. He got a nice bath, although still apprehensive, and was moved into a back room. This room was mostly white and the tiles gleamed from lighting above. He liked it. It seemed a cozy enough place to sit, and he wasn’t alone. He was sharing the place with a larger, melancholy bowl and a sink which seemed very friendly.

It was hard to know exactly what time it was from the small room, but the cuspidor knew when sunset arrived by the noise picking up on the other side of the wall. It was much quieter in here. He liked that too. A man came into the small room and stepped up to the large bowl. He unzipped his pants, urinated into the pot and left. The cuspidor was a bit put off. Shortly after, another man came in and did the same. Very rude. As the night grew older, many men stopped by. Some of them urinated, some of them defecated, some of them did unspeakable things. They would not leave the large bowl alone! By the end of the night, the cuspidor was aghast. The bowl just sat there with the same defeated expression it had sported all day. The cuspidor came to realize that this was the bowl’s only purpose. Just as the cuspidor had long been the receptacle for all men’s refuse and sputum, so was the bowl the receptacle for all men’s piss and shit. It was uplifting. He didn’t have it the worst after all! He might not have been blessed enough to be a shaker or a strainer, but he was no man’s piss-pot!

The cuspidor continued his work for many years after, but never again got depressed at his position in the world again. The bar was closed down eventually, and he wound up working junk shop circuit for a while until he was snatched up by and old biddy. She took him back to her farmhouse where he has remained in an attic full of loose change until this day.


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Filed under English, Fiction, Literature, Writing

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