It’s a strange kind of anonymous intimacy, thinks Ishmael, like old-style confession, or purchased sex. They’ve got maybe two feet of space between them. They’re each engaged in a very private activity, each pretending he can’t hear.
There’s the contest of patience, too: who’s going to stand first? Ishmael was here earlier, but his opponent may not even know he’s competing. If Ishmael gives up, not only will the other man hear him cleaning himself, he could well walk out before Ishmael’s gone. The anonymity would shatter.
He settles down, puts elbows to knees and prepares for the long wait.