A terrible thing happened in the bathroom.

This is in answer to your question, "what was the most embarassing thing that ever happened to you."

In the lavatory at work, we have a box of matches instead of Lysol. I go into the bathroom to hide, and read and collect my thoughts for a few minutes, at least two or three times a day. Yesterday I was sitting there, leafing through a book, and I began to light matches, for no reason except to watch the flame. After lighting them, I'd toss them in the sink, two feet away. It was just something to do with my hands, an absentminded action.

One of them didn't make it, and it turned out to still be lit. The wastepaper can is right under the sink, so the paper smoldered for a second, then caught fire. I jumped up and turned on the sink, trying to dump water over the edge into the basket, but there was something extrememely inflammable in the can, and with a "whoof" there was a rocket of flame pouring out of it.

Remember, my pants are still around my ankles. What I believe happened was that someone had put a can of spray adhesive or something similar in the basket. It went off with a huge bang. The can didn't explode, or otherwise there would have been shrapnel, and I would have been blinded at the least, but the bottom of it burst off. Apparently, they're designed for that. The release of pressure thrust out several pounds of loose paper into the air. It's black inside the bathroom and someone is pounding on the door. I'm covered with loose paper, and what's worse, the entire office menstruates at the same time, and it was that week. So basically I'm encased in tampons.

Finally I reach for the door and unlock it, and there are two or three people outside. They see me come out, trying to hike up my pants with one hand, covered in snotty tissues, paper towels, and tampons. The bathroom behind me looks like a smoky circle of hell. I immediately trip over and lose the grip on my pants, so my bare, pimply ass is in the air, and my dick hanging below. I'm on my knees, and everyone is staring--this only takes a few seconds, but needless to say, it seemed a little longer--and the alarm system sounds, and then the sprinklers go off, causing $40,000 damage to the computer systems in the office.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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