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Powder room politics

The initial lockdown days of COVID had us all out of our minds, and it was no different at my parents’ house where I just happened to live during those unprecedented times.

The mental burden manifested itself in strange ways, so every person took aim at something; my target happened to be the bathroom. As days of home lockdown turned into weeks, the bathroom became my enemy. With each new visit, I found something wrong; the walls of the room closed in on me until I was upset by everything in there.

My parents’ house has had many upgrades over the last thirty-five years, and about ten years ago they added a powder room downstairs, so now there are technically twice as many bathrooms than there were during my childhood.Yet as my siblings and I moved into adulthood, there were half as many people living in the house. So, how was it that a sister was still fighting to get a shower? It felt like no matter what time of day it was, as soon as I grabbed a towel and headed for the bathroom, I heard the door slam and lock. It could have been a weekend. I could have been getting ready for work or just coming home. I could have had an unplanned freak accident involving a fall into a pile of horse manure, but that would still have been the moment someone decided they absolutely needed the one full bathroom with a tub and shower. And why was the window shade always all the way open? This is the only room in the house with a 100 percent guarantee of some level of nakedness, yet it was the one window shade that was always open. Hit the window just right and that extra Quarantine Fifteen was gonna be blasted up and down

the street in all its overhead lampage glory.

Also, how many loofahs is too many loofahs? There were only three people in the house, and there were sixteen different loofahs hanging in the shower. What kind of insane hygiene ratios did we follow in this house? Is loofah inventory another arbitrary numerical standard passed down by the CDC? For the love of Dr. Fauci, what the hell even is a loofah? Who came up with that word? Say it to yourself. Loofah.




Speaking of Fah . . . Fah crying out loud, the toilet paper was either too fluffy or too flimsy.You were either unrolling a king size down comforter off the toilet paper carousel or you were grasping for the last shred of medical gauze; there was no in between.

Which brought us to the plunging issue.

After more than one too-thick toilet paper incident, the toilet got jammed, and the water moved uncomfortably slow for a modern toilet system in the developed world. I looked left and right, and there was no plunger. I looked behind shelves, in the upstairs linen closet, and in the medicine cabinets. Nothing. I finally located the plunger by accident . . . weeks later. In the basement. Right, because that’s convenient. If this were a true emergency, I’d have to be like, “Hang on mate, gotta take a short detour down three flights of stairs into the gates of hell and go on a scavenger hunt. This raw sewage just gonna have to chill for a bit.” Like, FEMA is laughing at us, you guys.

All of this came to a head when travel restrictions lifted and it was safe for my sister to visit from Chicago. My sister and I are that weird kind of close: when reunited, we still share a bed even as full-blown adults.Yet all week long she griped about the heat in my room being too high, the fluff of my pillows being too low, and the savagery of my refusal to let the cat sleep on my bed (allergies, dude).You name it, she critiqued it.

In fact, for the whole visit she criticized the accommodations at our parents’ home with such rabid intensity you would have sworn she was a critic sent from the Travel Channel.

On the final day of her trip, I walked through the upstairs hallway when, out of nowhere, the bathroom door flew open, and I met the business end of my sister’s stare. Her mouth was drawn so tight, she could barely squeak the words out. “Taylor,” she seethed. “Why. Is. There. NO PLUNGER NEXT TO THIS TOILET?”

I was shook. I searched for an answer I thought would satisfy her. Supply chain issues? Inventory shortage? Low staffing due to The Great Resignation? There were a gazillion excuses I could throw at her because of the pandemic.

Before I found an answer, she hit me with one final, fatal Travel Channel blow.

“This . . . ”

She squinted her eyes and twisted her face.

“This is going to severely affect your Yelp review.”

So, that was the biggest lesson learned during COVID—you don’t need a plunger until you really need a plunger.

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