Sunday, October 28, 2012

Walk on the Lighter Side: A Trip to the Bathroom

We call it the bathroom, even when there's no bath. You'd think we'd call it the toiletroom, or the sinkroom. Maybe the showerroom, if what it has is a walk-in shower with a door. Some newer houses that I've been in, the toilet, with its roll of toilet paper that seldom tears properly along the perforations, gets its own tiny room with a door separate from the sinks and tub. I can picture the paranoid American parents of today compulsively spraying and scrubbing that doorknob every day. "Eboli and ecola gonna get me! Gotta scrub that knob so I can one day scrub a 24-karat gold bathroom doorknob someplace! ...Ha ha, 'scrub that knob'. No time for laughs! Ecoli gonna get me!"

Other places in the world, the bathroom's called the water closet. Or the lavatory. There's a nice word that politely downplays the room's excretory function. If we're British, we can skip to the loo. Of course, our skipping can be awkward if we really need to go.

At home, it's the bathroom, but in public, it's the restroom. Yet — I haven't tried it myself, but I have a hunch — merely resting in the restroom is quite frowned upon. Someone finds you napping on the floor in there, they'll think you're a homeless person and give you a new home — one where the toilet stands nakedly in the same room as the beds — and where the lone door is only unlocked from the outside. Nope, no time for resting in the restroom. You do your shit (or piss), you get out. Depending on the sort of person you are, you wash your hands between those two things — that is, if you can coax some water out of those faulty sensor-activated faucets. Maybe you also sort-of dry your hands with one of those automatic dryers that stop about five seconds too early. At least for me, they do. Maybe I just have big hands. All the better to wrap around a certain neck, my dear. (My guitar's neck!)

Here's something about me that may interest some people: In a public restroom, I'll usually urinate his way, y'know...standing at the urinal, inconspicuously. In a private bathroom in someone's home, meanwhile, I do it her way. There are many great reasons for this. First off, I live with my folks — thank you, thank you very much — in a house with very thin walls, where the main bathroom is the only completely interior room (no windows). When my father uses the bathroom, unless the music, kitchen sink, or television is sufficiently loud and/or engaging, we all have to hear it. I'm more considerate; I muffle the sound by doing it her way and covering the toilet with myself. Secondly, no need to worry about aim. Amazing how men can live as many years as they do and not quite master that skill, ain't it? No aim, no mess. Thirdly, I'm just the sort of person who likes to take it slow, so to speak. I can sit. I can stay a while if I feel like it. I'm in no hurry to walk out and have to resume dealing with everyone. Sometimes my name gets shrilly called the very instant I open the door. Your family ever do that to you? Drives you nuts. You don't even get to breathe. Naturally, I often hear my name when I've just gotten in there. I don't wanna deal with them right now. I'll just sit and stay a while. Let my mind drift wherever it wants for a moment or six as I stare into space — you know, as much as it can drift in that thin-walled house with the television blaring. (Side note: I was on the can when I first heard, from Brian Williams on the television, that Michael Jackson had died. It was immediately followed by my mother saying "HE DIED?!?") I will also admit to grooming myself sometimes while I'm "there". You may have noticed that I'm a bit of a hairy creature. Still, for all the evident testosterone, I urinate her way in private bathrooms. By the way, I think the phrase that applies to my revelation here is "baring myself on the page".

Have you ever been using the toilet — you're sat there, you're going to be there for a while — and you realize that there is a MOSQUITO! Right there in the bathroom with you! Here you were — you thought you were clear to be totally naked, exposed and vulnerable — and one of nature's bloodsucking CREATURES is right there! They've got their eyes on your prize! And you can't move; it'll stink up the room prematurely! You have to hope that at least it doesn't go out of sight where it can sneak up behind you. If you're lucky, it'll make the mistake of flying in front of you just where you can clap your hands exactly on it. Spiders and other small things are also loads of great entertainment if you're droppin' great loads.

Eventually, I do use the bathtub in the bathroom. Of course, I shower; never bathe. Baths are giant puddles of your own filth; you gotta let gravity do some of the work for you. So I shower in the same tub (or shower) in which the rest of the family showers. My family recently converted from the old-fashioned bar of soap to more contemporarily hip liquid soap, and those 3D "bath sponges". I don't often like my mother's ideas, but I am very much loving not having to wash all the hair off the soap before I use it anymore.

So we use liquid body soap. Of course, it's never called "soap" these days. The common descriptor seems to be "body wash". There are other variations floating about. There's a "facial cleanse" and a clarifying something-or-other. Kinda ironic that we can't be sure what a "clarifier" does. Somehow, shampoo is still called shampoo. Thank goodness for a little sanity. And we still have conditioner, even though I'm still not exactly sure what conditioner is supposed to accomplish. I asked my folks this recently; the response I got was "It conditions your hair!" Gee, very helpful. Good to know that if my hair runs an impromptu race, it will be well-conditioned for it.

Many items around the tub and the rest of the bathroom, it isn't obvious what they are. The first thing on the container that the eye notices isn't usually what the stuff is; it's merely the company logo. Sometimes you really have to hunt through the very large advertising buzz words ("INVIGORATING", "REFRESHING", etc.) and the pretty flavor indicators — you got your nice picture of a pomegranate or whatever — and, finally, somewhere in tiny print near the bottom, it says "cleanser". Great, just what I need — to be cleansed. Like ethnic cleansing. There is one company with products in our bathroom that's actually pretty good with telling us what's inside. The company's name is "Up & Up", and I can't help but imagine that they were founded by the Up Brothers — Jack and Fuck.

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