No room brings out the competitive American spirit like the bathroom.
This especially rang true during the ’50s and ’60s. Back then, the national ratio of people to bathroom was 76.5 to one.
Desperation can teach a child much. I learned early that the early bird got the bird bath — with hot water. While my siblings remained comatose, I rose, rocketed down the hall, slid through the bathroom door and locked it. Safe!
I rationalized my territorialism in that I always had to clean the bathroom before I used it. I deserved to wash my face without a stopwatch running.
Why couldn’t Mom see this? Even if President Lyndon B. Johnson answered nature’s call at our house, a leaky toddler would kick him out—every time.
My dad also trumped everyone’s bathroom rights. He required five Reader’s Digests to bathe. He ran water to the top! In our hallway vigils, my siblings and I heard snoring, but no one dared bang on the door, slip threatening notes under it, or unlock it, using a hairpin.
When we finally moved into a house with two bathrooms, my espionage days were over — until my selfish parents claimed one for their exclusive use. How could they condemn me to sharing with subhuman sandbox dwellers who never remembered to flush?
So I deduced how I, too, could indulge in uninterrupted Roman-style luxury. On weekends, I scheduled my bath for midnight. So simple. So sinful. I discovered the forbidden joys of reading in the bubbly tub. Unfortunately, the library objected when their Nancy Drew collection returned soggy. My parents nixed my midnight ritual.
Fast forward a few decades. Contrary to my firm teen conviction I would die under such conditions, I survived. In fact, my childhood training has helped me meet numerous bathroom challenges, including: dormitory communal bathrooms, early marital adjustments, potty training, family campouts, Prom Day and cranky plumbing during my daughter’s wedding weekend.
As a lifetime reward, I now possess my very own bathroom, with 24/7 access. Abundant hot water, toilet paper and fluffy, folded towels. No covert operations.
With the holidays’ advent, however, a beloved invasion will ensue. Can I meet the bathroom challenges of living (albeit temporarily) with 16 other people, ages one to 83?
Yes. Nothing takes the place of experience.
Besides, I now own two-and-a-half baths. Plenty of stringy towels. I’m armed to the teeth with 347 Charmin double rolls and Liquid-Plum-r.
Before the onslaught, however, I will fortify myself with the ultimate bath. I shamelessly fill the bubbly tub to the tip-top. I break out the guest towels and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Now, where’s that Reader’s Digest?