Muddy Mystery Man


I have an impeccable memory for faces. So, of course, I recognized him immediately. The five-o’clock shadow, the pensive smile, and the shaggy hair. I resisted the urge to click his dating profile. It had been eight years, but I could never forget him, despite multiple attempts to block that Sunday evening in my college dorm when he washed his feet in the girl’s bathroom.

As the RA, I chatted frequently with residents as they passed by my room. One of the dramatic ones barged into my room, announcing: “some random hairy weirdo who I have never seen before is washing his feet in the sink of the girl’s bathroom,” declaring this breathlessly as if she had run straight to my room after spotting him. My mom happened to be visiting me that weekend. She stood up and asked, “would you like me to handle this?” I looked at her cross-eyed. I was in charge here, I told her with my glare. Perplexed, I went immediately to investigate and discovered a track of mud foot prints leading into the bathroom.

With his feet awkwardly dangling, half in the sink, half on the linoleum title, Brian grunted to acknowledge me. He was not a stranger. He lived down the hall, mostly kept to himself, studying math. As I noticed the giant puddle of muddy water, I asked, “Brian, what are you doing?” He attempted to turn around while half knocking the soap dispenser with his elbow. “I’m washing my feet!” he replied matter of factly. “I see that, but do you know you are in the girl’s bathroom?” I asked him. “Yea? I didn’t want to track the mud everywhere!” he replied with a much more rational reaction than I expected. “I see that, but I need you to go the guy’s bathroom,” I instructed him, watching him grab a stack of paper towels to dry off his feet. Where were his shoes, I wondered, but did not ask.

When I returned to my room, a crowd had gathered to discuss the stranger in the bathroom. “He lives on this hallway,” I reminded them to say hello more often to their neighbors. We never heard any complaints from the guy’s bathroom about his feet washing, perhaps, he had relocated to a shower stall.

But, from then on, he took on the reputation as Muddy Mystery Man. When I saw him on Jdate many years later, I contemplated messaging him to ask if he still washes his feet in the sink when it’s muddy, but I decided what happens in college stays in college.


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