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Best Seat in the House


Bathrooms are a big deal.
We don’t like to admit they’re a big deal but, let’s face it, they are. Builders and realtors know this. As the wife of a soil scientist who designs sewage disposal systems, I’m rather grateful for it.
Our new house, which I swear we’re eventually moving into, has five and a half.
That’s right. Five and a half. And I’m not apologizing for a single one.
There isn’t another room in a house that is site of this many battles, anxieties, desires and Freudian metaphors that no one talks about. Even away from home we plot out where we’re going against where the “safe” bathrooms are.
You know you do.
I will admit, though, that my family seems to hold its unnatural share of bathroom neurotics.
One cousin will not attend baseball games because he would be forced to use a public toilet. He is no longer invited on vacation with anyone because he requires a bathroom all to himself. Needless to say, he doesn’t travel very far from home.
Then there was an aunt of mine who, when she visited, required that the one bathroom in our house remain empty between the hours of 8 and 9:30 a.m. At some point during that interval she would make a sort of royal procession to the toilet, coffee cup, newspaper and cigarettes in hand. When she emerged some 40 minutes later, she would proclaim, “The Bathroom Is Free!”
My mother was rather obsessive about public toilets, requiring such contortions to avoid touching anything in the room that you couldn’t relax enough to. . . well, ya know. Even washing your hands became a major production because she wouldn’t let you actually touch the spigot to turn on the water. Visiting a public toilet with my mother was such an exhausting endeavor that until I was old enough to be on my own, I’d “hold it” for incredible amounts of time. This became, oddly enough, listed among my talents. “Jeanne has such a funny sense of humor. And can she hold her water!”

Among the many perks of having all boys, one of them is that on family outings, I’ve always been on my own for bathroom breaks. I’d breeze in and out and be waiting patiently for my husband to emerge with the Heirs. Dirtman always looked slightly frazzled and a bit annoyed with me, rather the way I imagine I looked after a toilet training session when his sons were toddlers.
In the house we currently occupy there is one bathroom. There is a half bath downstairs, but it has only worked about 10 minutes out of the 17 years we’ve lived here. Guests have learned to preface a visit to this room with, “Is it working today?” Usually, though, they just head upstairs to the full bath. This means that when someone surprises us with a visit, Dirtman answers the door and I go check and clean the bathroom. I remind you, I live with three males.
Our main bathroom has not been very reliable either. For one five-year period no one could take a shower because the tub wouldn’t drain unless you held the stopper open, in spite of the unit being replaced several times. This was followed by another three-year period during which you couldn’t take anything but showers because the stopper wouldn’t close. Then one day it decided to operate, but only if held open with a rubber band.
This room does have its dubious perks, though. The commode is right next to a window which looks over the driveway, high enough for modesty and low enough to afford the – uh – sitter a clear view of the parking area. This is a convenience Dirtman often takes advantage of in the morning when the Heirs are leaving for school. Now that would probably traumatize a more sensitive family.
Because of the single bathroom, you cannot linger over your morning ablutions. Forget one of those “Calgon, take me away!” baths. There is no sneaking in there with a magazine because it’s sure to trigger someone cutting you off with, “Wait! I just have to…”
So all my life I’ve had a recurring dream that I crawl through a secret hidden door and through a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel I emerge into a perfectly clean, modern bathroom. The fixtures shine and there are no toothpaste cylinders in the sink. No one has used my towel to mop up the floor. There is only one bottle of shampoo on the edge of the gleaming tub. And the floor around the toilet is absolutely clean. I’m just about to turn on the water in the tub to take a long, hot bath . . . and I wake up.
And so the five and a half bathrooms in the new house. I figure that ups the odds that one day during my tenure, I will enter the bathroom and not have to hose it down before I use it. To ensure this further, while the plans for the house originally had four and a half baths, I added the extra one inside my office. It has a large whirlpool tub. It will lock from the outside with a key, kind of like an executive washroom.
You think I’m kidding?

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 6:50 AM | Permalink

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