Archive | Bathrooms RSS feed for this section

Are We Not Men? We Are Creatures! (Of Habit)

12 Sep

by Roger White

 

I sometimes wonder when I’m in private places—like making my choice-of-urinal decision in the men’s room at work or standing buck nekkid in my closet pondering the day’s wardrobe selection—if I’m being secretly spied upon by sociologist types through two-way mirrors or microscopically sized drones or what have they. I sometimes wonder this not because I’m of the mind that sociologist types are pervs necessarily (though they very well may be), but because I believe sociologist types could glean much human behavior information from observing everyday folks in their solitary moments.

We are creatures of habit, and nowhere are these habits more noticeable than when no one is noticing. Wait. Did that make sense? (writer breathes into cupped hands here, smells no whisky, continues on)

Take, for example, the urinal selection process. At my workplace, there are three urinals in the bathroom. Whenever I heed nature’s call at work and I see that nobody else is in the can at the moment, I instinctively go for Urinal #1 or Urinal #3. Urinal #2—the one in the middle—is never an option, unless

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

urinals 1 and 3 are caked in hideousness and chewed gum and random bits of human effluence. This natural selection process takes place on a subconscious level, I believe, for 91.73 percent of males because the great majority of males do not prefer to stand directly next to other males when doing their business. It’s a personal space issue.

My theory on this matter seems to be verified whenever I am Guy #2 in the john because Guy #1 is almost always at Urinal #1 or Urinal #3, leaving the other end urinal open so his personal space is not violated, either. The 8.27 percent of males who blatantly flout this societal convention and unashamedly bare their wares at Urinal #2 are for the most part raging extroverts or adamant alternative lifestyle proponents. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I have a PowerPoint presentation on this theory available for viewing if you’re interested. I wonder if women experience a similar phenomenon with stall selection?

The buck-nekkid-in-my-closet-pondering-the-day’s-wardrobe procedure also bears out my creatures-of-habit theorem. Try as I might to vary up my workaday wardrobe, it’s always the same: Monday is my dour brown checkered shirt/black slacks; Tuesday is the infinitesimally cheerier light brown checkered shirt/black slacks; Wednesday is humpday blue and gray decisions-decisionswith the faux cashmere socks; and so on. It can’t be helped. And truth be told, there is a bit of comfort in the consistency. Somehow, I feel that all is right with the world when it’s Wednesday and I’m standing at Urinal #3 in my faux cashmere socks and Fred is at Urinal #1 intentionally avoiding eye contact with me and my wares, as I am with him and his boys.

Now, the problem arises when one is contentedly minding one’s business, following creature-of-habit protocol, and someone else—no matter how unintentionally—ignores or outright runs roughshod over one’s creature-of-habit comportment. Hall passings are a good example. At work, we have these inordinately long hallways. They’re a pain when trying to get from place to place—say, when you’re making your way urgently to what you hope is open Urinal #1—but in reality, these extraordinarily lengthy halls are conducive to maintaining creature-of-habit equilibrium. When all are cooperating, mind you. We all know that everyone walks on the right, with opposing traffic passing on the left. If, for some reason (e.g., texting one’s daughter to get the hell up and get to class; looking down to double-check proper fly closure; etc.), you find yourself walking on the left, these long, long hallways give you plenty of advance notice to get back to the right before oncoming traffic on-the-rightcreates confusion. The difficulty arises when an opposing hallwalker is not observing the stay-to-the-right covenant. When clearing of the throat or dropping one’s keys fails to alert this wrong-way yahoo, options immediately become either (a) zipping to the left, which usually causes the wrong-way walker to parry your move and results in an awkward dance; or (b) walking so far to the right in an attempt to protect your lane that you actually begin generating heat and friction against the wall.

My habit in this situation was almost always to hug the wall—until in one instance the terrible friction actually caused my faux cashmere socks to catch fire. What I do nowadays is pretend to forget something and beat an immediate retreat.

Is it just me, or are these things universal?

Oh, btw (which, for you dinosaurs unfamiliar with social media, doesn’t mean “bob tickles wimmen”—it means “by the way,” I think), grand prize winner in our semi-quarterly Quizzical Quotes contest last edition was Mr. Greer Tedford. Or maybe it was Ted Greerford. I forget. Congrats, anyway. Greer won some wonderful parting gifts and a lifetime supply of Aunt Mildred’s Dehydrated Water in Cans.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

 

 

Advertisements

…Only to Find Gideons’ Flatscreen

23 Jul

by Roger White                                                                              

 

Well, I’m back, my fellow existential exam-takers. Just flew in from the far reaches of my psyche, and, boy, are my neural dendrites tired. Actually, I’ve been in Baltimore, but it’s about the same.

 

Although I was encamped in the city’s trendy Inner Harbor for bidness purposes, I did partake of some of the local tourist fare, which involved, in various proportions, many images of Fort Wipken WayMcHenry, the grave of Edgar Allan Poe, mounds of Maryland blue crabs (and all the accompanying crab hammers and pliers and crab-innard removers and bibs and things), and thousands upon thousands of orange-clad Orioles fans. Note: Every third street, boulevard, and/or quasi-large building in Baltimore proper is named for Cal Ripken, Jr. There’s Cal Ripken Road, Cal Ripken Way, Cal Ripken Hair Restoration Clinic, you name it.

 

For those of you non-baseballites, Ripken, nicknamed the “Iron Man,” played for the O’s for something like 173 years, and he holds the major league record for consecutive games played. He Call Calsuited up and took the field for—seriously, now—2,632 games without so much as a potty break, or something like that. Anyway, the folks of Baltimore worship the guy. There’s even an Our Lady of the Shortstop Catholic Church near Camden Yard, where parishioners bless themselves with the sign of the 8 and refer to themselves as Cal-tholics. OK, not really. I kid.

 

Anyhow, the city its own self wasn’t nearly as crime-infested as I had pictured it. For many years, Baltimore carried a not-so-savory reputation with regard to one’s personal safety. The pro basketball team wasn’t called the Baltimore Bullets for nothing. They were going to be called the Baltimore Brick Upside the Heads, but they couldn’t fit it all on the team jerseys. However, I must say that during my brief stay near the Chesapeake, I was accosted not once—unless you count the very large, very moist man with the Phil Spector hair and leopard-print thong singing Paul Anka’s “Having My Baby” at the top of his lungs. I wasn’t sure if he was panhandling, making some sort of pro-life statement, or on the run from the Cal Ripken Clinic for Mood Disorders, but I ponied up a fast fiver and got the hell out of there.

 

A bit off topic from Baltimore per se, but I have to report—the Spouseman not having lodged at the finer inns on my own dime for a good while—that I was thoroughly gobsmacked with regard to one particular aspect of my accommodations. Hotels, I have come to conclude, are absolutely convinced that their guests cannot go one fraction of a second without access to a television. Gads, man. There was a TV in the bathroom—built into the mirror, mind you—a TV in the elevator, a tiny telly on each treadmill in the fitness room, a TV on every wall of the lobby, several in the bar, TVs in the restaurant, etc., etc., etc. CNN, Fox News, and General Hospital were everywhere. Live with Kelly and Michael was practically ubiquitous. I didn’t really need that last sentence to make my point, but I enjoy using the word “ubiquitous” whenever possible. I can be obsequious, dare I say insouciant, like that sometimes.

gotta have

With the preponderance of boob tubes, I found it a tad ironic when I read the little sign in the john that instructed me to please reuse my towels. The hotel explained on its quaint recycled-paper missive that it was trying to help the planet and save money—which would, of course, keep their rates lower—by asking that visitors gently reuse their towels during their stay. I kinda figured they could save a bit more if they gently stopped cramming high-dollar television sets into every conceivable space they could find. I, for one, do not require a flatscreen, high-definition TV built into my toilet paper dispenser.

 

On the plane ride home, I actually considered writing to the hotel manager about my concerns, but the tiny little TV in the seatback in front of me was gently playing an Andy Griffith Show rerun. So I got sidetracked. It was a really good one, though. The one where Aunt Bee enters her kerosene-flavored pickles in the county fair…

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

Don’t Take Your Kitchen for Granite

21 Nov

by Roger White

We’ve been camping out in our own house for weeks now, and I think I’m actually getting the hang of it. You see, my dear wife decided recently it was time to upgrade our kitchen and downstairs guest bathroom, and, like the naïve simpleton I am, I glibly went along with it all.

I presumed this entailed dabbing on a fresh coat or two of paint, getting a new commode cover, and buying a fancy oven mitt or three.

No, sir. “Upgrade” by my wife’s definition meant, of course, demolishing all countertops, tearing off all wall coverings, and conducting interviews with no fewer than 59 contractors, handymen, painters, tile folks, grout guys, electrical experts, plumbing people, sink installers, toilet types, granite excavators, countertop wholesalers, and all kinds of strange, hairy men who have been traipsing in and out of our house at all hours doing God only knows what.

So at present our groceries are in little clumps and piles all over the place, and our family forages for food intermittently, pretty much Cro-Magnon style. I keep a stash of chips and cookies hidden in my own special place, just to be safe. Every man for himself, you know.

And for weeks now our humble little abode has taken on the appearance of an archeological dig for ancient artifacts. In fact, amid the dust and debris I was amazed to discover some ancient artifacts of my very own, such as floppy disks from one of my early attempts at the Mediocre American Novel. Floppy disks, mind you. Pre-internet era. Thank God they can only be accessed by now-obsolete technology because I don’t want anybody looking at this stuff. 

“Oh, James,” Harriet opined, deciding it was better not to tell her former lover that the baby she carried was not his or even his brother’s but that of the motorcycle gang leader she hitched a ride with back in Needles, California. Harriet trudged off into the dark and stormy night, not knowing if James would ever want her back or, for that matter, if he’d want her front.

You get the idea. This is treasure better left buried.

Anyway, through all the smoke and drill bits and extension cords and horrible noise, I do believe something is starting to take shape. Our countertops, which I must admit I never really gave a second thought to, are now a gleaming river of exquisite polished granite. I’m scared to put anything on them now. I don’t feel worthy. Our cat’s pretty skittish about the whole deal, as well. When he hops up on the countertop, he’s at risk of skating freeform all the way across the kitchen and into the dining room. Schweeee…..thunk! Meow?

Moreover, our downstairs bathroom sink has been transformed into this fascinating concave of hammered copper, beautiful and odd. I think of Abe Lincoln every time I wash my hands now. (Y’know, he’s on the penny and all.) I feel the need to be very quiet in the downstairs bathroom all of a sudden, I guess because it has taken on this aura of a stately museum. It is gorgeous and finely appointed, and presently I can’t do my business in there because I’m a bit intimidated. When I’m in there, I start thinking, “Man, this room doesn’t deserve this. I should get outta here.” I’m of a mind to rope off the downstairs john with velvet and have a docent charge admission.

And through it all, I have become good friends with our main contractor guy, Bruce, who happens to be a Cowboys fan like me. We’ve practically shared half the season together. I’ve noticed, however, that I’ve begun to hope and pray for dull games because if anything really exciting happens while Bruce is tiling our kitchen backsplash, it ain’t good. “Touchdown, Cowboys!” Smash, flinkle, kar-rump. “Uh, Mr. White.”

I’ve also become well-versed in the finer points of Contractor Time. You see, there’s Eastern Time, Central, Mountain, Pacific—and Contractor Time (CT). When a contractor says he’ll be at your house by 8 a.m., that actually means 10:30 a.m. CT. If he says he’s heading to lunch for an hour, what he means is he’s heading to lunch for three hours and forty-five minutes CT. And, when your friendly contractor guy tells you he can have that job finished in two weeks, this, of course, equates to two and half months CT.

I’m just funnin’ ya, Bruce. Ya done good, son. Just remember, no tiling while Romo’s in the pocket. And can I take this oxygen mask off now?

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.