“The Powderless Powder Room” by David Martin
This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Home Improvement.”
We recently renovated the bathroom in our nearly 50-year-old home. At the same time, we had a new half-bath built in the basement. My wife and daughter are thrilled with the renovated bathroom. I, too, have to admit that it’s a pretty spiffy biffy. And I have reserved my greatest delight for the new half-bathroom. For this new room, small as it is, belongs to me.
It’s been said that a man’s home is his castle. I don’t know who said that, or when, but I suspect it was many years ago when people actually lived in castles. Today, it’s more accurate to say that a woman’s home is her castle. Most men have yielded to women when it comes to home management. Let’s face it—it’s the rare fellow who involves himself in choosing floor patterns, carpet colors or the mysteriously named window treatments.
That doesn’t mean we men can’t still have a throne, which brings me back to our new half-bath or, to be more precise, my half-bath.
I let my wife have free reign when it came to the do-over of the upstairs bathroom. But the trade-off was that I got to choose what went in the new half-bath. Cheryl spent countless, joy-filled hours visiting every home improvement, tile and plumbing fixture store in the city for the upstairs bathroom. I, on the other hand, did not agonize over any of the choices made for our new mini-bathroom.
The tiles? The first serviceable, beige-colored ones I saw. The vanity? The cheapest white, two-drawer one I could find on the Home Depot website.
The mirror? The $50, no-frame, easily attachable one that happened to be on sale.
The toilet? The budget biffy at Home Depot in the higher-than-standard height that will allow me to arise from it well into my 70s.
Short, sweet and simple. That’s my secret to a successful renovation. My new half-bath may not make it into Better Homes and Gardens—hell, it may not even make it into Adequate Homes and Gardens—but it’s everything I ever wanted in a powderless powder room.
No longer must I battle with my wife and daughter for private time in the upstairs john. Now there is one room reserved just for me. I don’t care that it’s small. I don’t care that it’s a bit cramped. I don’t even care that there’s no shower. It’s a room with a sink, a seat and a door. Who could ask for more?
Each morning, I descend to my private cave where I can take as long as I want to shave, brush my teeth or just sit. No one is knocking on the door, urging me to hurry up or complaining about noxious fumes. I now have my own hideaway, my own meditation chamber, my own reading room.
I didn’t anticipate how much I would enjoy, cherish and jealously guard my new private retreat. Sure, in an emergency others are permitted to use the half-bathroom, but on the understanding that any such visits must be temporary and brief. Under no circumstances is such a visitor permitted to leave any of her makeup, toiletry or grooming items behind. I have worked hard to achieve a Spartan decor and I will fight to the death to maintain it.
In my experience, if you allow one or two fancy soaps or shampoos in a bathroom, they breed and multiply until they populate every ledge, counter and empty space. And if your guard is down and such insidious items as dried flowers, wall hangings and incense sticks make it past the door, the battle for one’s own men’s room is all but lost.
I have additional rules for my bathroom. Much like Martin Luther once nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, I intend to post my bathroom guidelines which might read something like this:
- No colored bottles, knickknacks or shiny rocks on top of the toilet tank.
- No fluffy covering on the toilet lid.
- Absolutely no toilet roll cozies allowed.
- Reading material consists solely of one book and one magazine of my choice.
- Occasional visitors may temporarily bring in personal reading matter, but any women’s or teen magazines left behind will be unceremoniously disposed of as I see fit.
- No cute curtains on the small basement window.
- No single wall hook holding a fancy embroidered hand towel unintended for actual use.
- No fancy soap dish in the shape of a fish, turtle or frog.
- No seashells on the counter, floor or window ledge.
- Absolutely nothing scented, especially talc, lotions and powders.
I have taken to my new room like a teller to a bank vault. I guard my half-bath and ensure that it retains the security and simplicity that I have come to cherish.
As the years pass, I am sure that I will be able to maintain my new Fortress Dave as a bulwark against the outside world which is primarily populated by my wife, my daughter and our dog.
I don’t wish to appear rigid or mean in my approach. While I may seem strict in applying certain standards, I am open to future changes to my room.
For example, I am not averse to installing a small TV so that those viewing sporting events in the nearby rec room will not miss any of the action. And, space permitting, I would not entirely rule out the addition of a mini beer fridge.
But apart from these minor improvements, I see no reason to make any other changes. I am prepared to take a stand and defend my room to ensure that it remains for all time a potpourri-free zone.
David Martin’s humor and political satire have appeared in many publications including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and Smithsonian Magazine. His latest humor collection Screams & Whispers is available on Amazon.com. David lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife, Cheryl, and their daughter, Sarah.
Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Home Improvement.” The book is filled with 65 very funny stories by do-it-yourselfers. Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/Hm66pb) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/1w5gLvO).
To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.