One in the Can

To all those who have ever experienced the undeniable, bowel wrenching need to sacrifice both your attachment to cleanliness and a small piece of your sanity in order to face the wretched conditions of a public restroom and heed the call for gastrointestinal relief you can appreciate the contrasting experience of heeding that same call in the comfort of your very own bathroom. No need to step over that hobo in the doorway. No need to question the random drips sprinkled about the stall. No need to gather a heaping handful of individually dispensed tissue squares to wipe away the sense of ick.   At home, in your private sanctuary, you have the clean seat, the tidy bowl, the stack of outdated yet unread magazines and the perfect combination of wipes and extra quilted paper for your delicate behind. It is the nirvana of potty breaks.

That is, of course, unless you live in a house filled with a motley assortment of teens, tweens and toddlers, in which case the home front is likely filled with bathrooms that are only one small step above the public facilities,… and that one small step is probably the hobo in the doorway which, thankfully, we rarely need to worry about. We do however still have the random sprinkling of drips and, more often than not, a clogged toilet. Could it be the carb heavy, fiber free diet of the average American youth or perhaps the California drought friendly low flow toilets that contribute to the maddeningly frequent clogs? I have no idea the cause but I’m quite familiar with the frequency. Approaching any toilet in the house is a paramount to visiting that old aunt that nobody likes and wondering if this is the visit that will find her face down in the kitchen with her four cats nibbling away at her recently deceased body. You approach cautiously, taking a tentative sniff at the air, deciding if it’s worth a peek to confirm your worst fears or if it would be better to just assume the worst and call in the cleanup crew now without further confirmation. I mean really, who needs to see that. Bad kitty!

To prepare for this inevitability every bathroom in the house comes equipped with a fully functional plunger. Each child knows what a plunger looks like and has at least a passing knowledge of how the thing works. And yet, none of them will make the effort to use one unless forced to at the end of a disapproving parental finger wagging in the direction of the offending clog.  More than that, not only will they not take action to clear said mess but they will all religiously swear that they were nowhere near the crime scene at the time of the incident. A unanimous chorus of “it wasn’t me” can be heard ringing through the halls. Alibis having nothing to do with anything start to percolate; “I haven’t been upstairs all day because I twisted my ankle during presidential testing in PE.” Accusations redirect blame to other random suspects; “I suspect Colonel Mustard, in the bathroom with the lead brick”.   This is a crime scene that no one wants to investigate. There will be no CBS series called “CSI: Downstairs Bathroom”. In the end, nobody cares. The residing adults play a quick game of rock, paper, plunger and whoever loses two out of three deals with the problem while somewhere in the house an unknown child giggles knowingly to themselves.

I just don’t want to think about it. I lose enough sanity dealing with everyone else’s mess, I don’t need to face that in my moment of need too. This is why no child is allowed in the master bathroom. I don’t care if every other bathroom is occupied (or clogged) and you just chugged a 32 oz. Gatorade on a dare. You can wait,… or discover the joys of operating a plunger. Whatever the supposed emergency at least one room in the house needs to be reserved for our little parental nirvana. Our blessed little brood may not care about trivial things like aiming or flushing, but those indiscretions will not be tolerated when I’ve intentionally avoided the public stalls in Costco only to race home with legs crossed and I need to know that a safe haven awaits me minus any potential clogs or hobos.

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