L.B.: 10 pages in the men’s room

Left Behind, pg. 77

Here's how Chapter 5 begins:

Buck Williams ducked into a stall in the Pan-Con Club men's room to double-check his inventory. Tucked in a special pouch inside his jeans …

As a general rule, it's probably best not to begin a chapter by having the protagonist enter the stall of a men's room. Nor to have him untuck anything from his jeans.

It turns out that Buck is just checking on the thousands of dollars of traveler's checks he carries in his pants. But since Buck and Jenkins are enjoying the ambience of the bathroom stall setting, they take the opportunity to examine all the contents of his luggage and explain his strategy for packing for trips overseas:

His practice … was to do his own laundry in the sink and let it dry a whole day while wearing one outfit and having one more in reserve. That way he was never burdened with lots of luggage."

This is the kind of detail that, somehow, Ian Fleming never provided about James Bond. Bond tended to avoid the youth hostels that Buck apparently frequents, opting instead for hotels that offer laundry service. It seems that Buck's expense account with "Global Weekly" allows him to fly first class, to charter planes, and to carry and spend wads of cash, but it doesn't allow him to get his clothes laundered by the hotel.

Here in the airport men's room stall, Buck is in a reflective mood, and so begins a series of flashbacks explaining why he was headed to London and why he had stopped off in Chicago first. As a result of these trips down memory lane, Buck won't leave the stall for another 10 pages.

  • Chris

    It’s BECAUSE Buck has enormous wads of cash and can charter planes at will that he isn’t allowed to stay anywhere with a laundry service. After all the money they spend on him, Global Weekly said, “Buck, we just can’t give you any business class hotels any more. In fact, we’re going to have to ask you to stay in rental cars and wash your clothes in airport sinks from now on.
    “Oh and Buck, would you please stop hanging around in airport stalls. There’ve been complaints.”

  • Chris

    It’s BECAUSE Buck has enormous wads of cash and can charter planes at will that he isn’t allowed to stay anywhere with a laundry service. After all the money they spend on him, Global Weekly said, “Buck, we just can’t give you any business class hotels any more. In fact, we’re going to have to ask you to stay in rental cars and wash your clothes in airport sinks from now on.
    “Oh and Buck, would you please stop hanging around in airport stalls. There’ve been complaints.”

  • Professor Fury

    Delightful. I’ve just adopted a new euphemism for going to the men’s room.
    “Be right back, folks–I’ve gotta double-check my inventory.”
    So much more elegant than “see a man about a dog.”

  • Ray

    “Buck won’t leave the stall for another 10 pages”
    Well, its been a busy day, and its probably played hell with his digestion. Do the godly hold with colonic irrigation?

  • Kenneth Fair

    So Buck decided to “double-check his inventory”? Is that what bad Rapture-writers are calling it these days?
    Chicago’s a happening town, but I’m pretty sure that’s not legal in Illinois.

  • Keith

    Ten pages in th eMen’s room (doing manly business) but how many pages on the man’s wife? A paragraph or two? You can’t trust an author when their priorities are this subliminal.

  • Thlayli

    Double-entendre in L.B. — who’da thunk it?

  • Beth

    Is that a roll of traveler’s checks in your pouch or are you just glad to see me?

  • Scott

    Buck’s clothes are all over the floor – either he’s been raptured or he’s “taking inventory in the mens’ room”.

  • Jon H

    I’m surprised they didn’t mention that he wears seamless undergarments.

  • Jon H

    “Chicago’s a happening town, but I’m pretty sure that’s not legal in Illinois.”
    I’ve never heard of O’Hare’s bathrooms being especially cruisy, but you never know.

  • lawguy

    Congratulation, 2 weeks running. I am enjoying the commentary — hope you can keep it up.

  • R. Mildred

    There’s got to be a porn spoof of Left Behind some where on these internets
    A title that already has the word “behind” in it and two main characters with (mostly) gay porn star names, most of the work is already done.

  • Sophist

    In the loo for ten pages, huh? It’s ironic, but “constipated” is exactly the adjective I would use to describe Jenkins’ writing–I hesitate to use the word–style.

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  • Salsa Shark

    So basically, Buck goes to the john to take an infodump?

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  • Michelle

    L&J’s utter cluelessness as to the ineffectiveness of Buck’s laundry methods is probably due in part to the fact that neither of them have ever washed their own clothes in their lives.


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