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"Other Colors"
by Orhan Pamuk

by Nathaniel Philbrick

September 5, 2009

Bathroom humor

No, no, no! This is not about naughty jokes or talking about racy subjects. This is about sharing a bathroom, especially with strangers. For 54 years I shared the house with one of the most fastidious men going or with one of the most fastidious men and a daughter I had raised. Both were models of bathroom usage. I am thankful to my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law who raised my husband to:

1) always put the toilet seat down
2) always leave the place clean
3) always, always wash his hands thoroughly before he left the bathroom
One of Mark’s favorite cartoons was a cartoon which showed a man leaving the men’s restroom. As he does so a large neon sign is illuminated above his head which reads, “Didn’t wash hands!”

I have discovered that not everyone follows the rules outlined above. As the house has been filled with men working at the remodeling of the kitchen and other things, they often need to use the facilities. And of course they are welcome to do so. I have discovered that rules 1, 2, and 3 are largely ignored. I have left out towels for them – which they didn’t use. So I left out paper towels for them – which they didn’t use. I put out bar soap, soft soap, Purell - with moisturizer and vitamin E, and Zep – foaming alcohol sanitizer with aloe skin conditioner, none of which seems to have been much used. Since many of them don’t speak much English, I assume a printed leaflet would also be futile. It makes one wonder if the notice in fast food places is heeded – “Please wash hands before leaving restroom”.

I also suspect that the mothers of these men (yes, there is one woman but I am focusing on the men)didn’t teach them to aim at the Cheerio floating in the toilet bowl. They seem to aim at nothing or everything. I have had to wash the floor in the bathroom many times. Apparently they were also never told how upsetting it can be to a woman to discover that the lid was not put down when she uses the bathroom in the middle of the night. And if you don't laugh you will cry.

So thank you Logie, Mur and Dort. You did a great job!

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