During brunch on Sunday, the bathroom had a smell that brought me back to the bathroom in my church growing up. Strange as that might be. It reminded me of the decor, the darkness of that dank basement where we had Sunday School and other such memories. It was not an uplifting place so the memory of the bathroom did not bring me to have a smile on my face. More a reminder of memories from childhood.
It amazes me how easily a smell can bring you back to a moment in time. You can run the play-by-play of events through your thoughts, reviewing what happened when that smell is brought to your senses. I have had it when smelling a specific food, an item of clothing in my closet, linens on a bed. At times the smell brings back wonderful memories, and other times it is a reminder of a past that might better be forgotten. Sometimes a smell of certain foods is nostalgia of childhood, and then when we are able to recreate those recipes, the taste is nothing like the smell to us. We have grown up, changed, and honed our taste buds.
At times a lotion or hair product might make me think of my grandma, a type of make-up my mom, and an aftershave my dad. Even if I have not seen them for 15-25 years the smells are ingrained in my thoughts and memories and nothing can take that away. Smells trigger memories, and we are quickly jettisoned back to a moment in time as we try to recollect why the smell reminds us of something. When we do remember, it is as though we were 10 or 12 or 20 again. A smile might cross our face, or a tear fall towards the ground.
Are there smells that trigger specific memories for you?
I will tell you from the start that this post is not about my husband. He does not leave the toilet seat up. Whether I have trained him well or he was trained from an early age, my rant is not about toilet seats at home.
It is about public bathrooms (for the most part shared/unisex bathrooms) where when you walk in the toilet seat is up. It is like a glaring advertisement “a man just peed here.” Why, oh why must they mark their territory? It means that women who may be a little out of it and might not intend to squat (I am not one of those) may just fall in. Most women probably take the time to grab some toilet paper, and put the seat down and then use one of those toilet seat covers, or add layers of toilet paper to cover the seat. Others will just leave the toilet seat as it is and then just squat, do their business, and move on with their life.
Maybe I am perplexed by the toilet seat left up, because at our house we also close the lid on the toilet after each use. It feels more of the way the toilet was designed. There is a lid, and it is not just meant to be closed so you can sit on it. It feels like a gesture of goodwill to leave it closed for the next occupant (man or woman). Since that is the routine in our house, maybe that is why it baffles me that to just put the seat back down (not even including the lid) should be a normal occurrence in home and public bathrooms.
For all you little boys, young men, and grown men please take a moment to put the toilet seat down after doing your business. Women all over will be grateful that you took an extra moment to put it down. And, of course, while you are at it, wash your hands too.
I remember her two bedroom, one bathroom apartment. Looking back I am horrified that she lived there. Old linoleum and cabinets, even older carpeting, and I will not even start on the yellow bathtub and red carpeting in the bathroom — who puts carpeting in a bathroom, let alone a rental apartment? She lived there for at least ten years if not longer. All of her furniture was given to her by family over the years, and she cherished every piece she owned. Right down to the costume jewelry she owned.
I can remember sitting at her dressing table (that was used as a desk and was never used as a dressing table). There were three drawers on each side, and a narrow, long drawer in the middle. She kept each necklace and bracelet and pair of earrings in their own separate box. You know, the kind that you purchased the jewelry in. She kept the cotton filler intact, and stored each piece in that box, which often told you where the purchase was made. I would often adventure to the table and want to try each piece on and play with alternating the fake pearls with the gaudy earrings. She did not have her ears pierced, they were all clip on earrings (and I thought they hurt horribly) but put them on anyways.
It was not that she hated my trying it all on, I think she just wanted to keep everything in its proper place and well I was a fast little one and she could not keep up. I sensed her hesitation and I also always felt like I should not even ask to try it on. It was all fake costume jewelry so what was her hesitation? Today, I am not a fan of costume jewelry. I prefer the one-of-a-kind version, where almost no one has that piece that I do. Maybe the few times I played with her costume jewelry got the desire for it out of my system.
Over the weekend, I finished reading: “What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir” by Abigail Thomas. A memoir where the author is aging and she talks about her husbands, growing old, her kids, and grandkids. This portion made me think of my grandma, her apartment, costume jewelry, and how different she lived than I do today.
“Somehow it is more interesting to find something beat-up and handled than to get it new. My bureau drawers are stuffed with god knows what, and my daughters always go through them when they are here. It is a compulsion. My theory is that they are looking for the secret, the answer, the explanation for everything.” Page 72
Did those drawers hold any secrets or answers? Did I wonder if I would ever have such drawers and if I would allow my grandkids to unearth the treasures to see what they might hold in their eyes of wonder? Maybe.
Toilet Paper. Not usually something you talk about with others, and yet if it ever comes up in conversation it happens to center around whether the toilet paper roll has been put on the right way. Yet, is there a right way? Does it go over or under? There are definitely two camps: over the roll and under the roll. Actually maybe there are three camps. I fall in the third camp which equates to: “I do not care.” Chris falls in the over camp, and since I do not care, the toilet paper in our house goes over. I am used to it, but at the end of the day, I just want to use the toilet paper and go on with my day. It does not change my world one way or the other which direction it comes off the roll. All I want is a clean toilet, bathroom, and toilet paper. There is nothing worse than a gross bathroom, a filthy toilet, and no toilet paper.
Over the years I have become picky about the quality of toilet paper. At some public restrooms all you get is the thinnest of tissue paper. How can they even call it toilet paper? You need ten times the amount just to make sure it does not soak through. It should not be too thin or too harsh. It should be soft and absorbent. Think about it. They put lotion in Kleenex, which tells us that you should be soft and gentle with your nose. Why would you not treat your bum in a similar way? No one wants chafing, just like everyone hates a raw nose after a cold or the flu.
This Huffington Post article shares that a 1891 patent shows that Chris is definitely in the right camp, toilet paper goes over. Who knew!
So while I could care less about the over or under battle, I would pay more for the “Bounty” of toilet papers. It makes a difference. So — are you an over or under addict?
Over the past few days, after Chris has done his business in the bathroom he says: “Ah, how I missed nice toilet paper.” Oh how I know what he means. In China no matter where you were: a hotel, business, restaurant the toilet paper was tissue paper-thin. Actually thinner than tissue paper. Which baffles me because then you just need to use more of it. Most of the time it was one-ply instead of two-ply. So is two-ply toilet paper more of an American thing?
We saw a commercial this weekend for Scott toilet paper. Their Natural Tube-Free toilet paper. What a concept. The ad says that every year the US throws away enough toilet paper tubes to fill the Empire State building — twice. You then see an Empire State building made of toilet paper rolls. A good ploy for those that are environmentally savvy enough to care about the tube leftover. I am not saying I do not care, but I have to say this house is more picky about the paper on the roll!
So back to bathrooms in China. They varied. Chris warned me before my trip to always have kleenex with me and hand sanitizer. He was right. On one of the first days we were there, we were on a street that was stationary + pen store after another. My idea of bliss. The problem? No bathrooms, and well when I got to go, I got go. We found an old bookstore (one that had been around awhile, although the book titles were current.) I figured out that the bathroom was up this strange staircase and up I went. I get into the stall and found the toilet was in the floor and start to do my business as quickly as possible, only to look around and realize there was no toilet paper. Crap, I was screwed. There was only one thing I could do. Finish, go downstairs and ask Chris for the kleenex and hand sanitizer. (It also had no sink.)
Let me just say that when there was toilet paper it was thin, but my bathroom experiences were vastly different. My bookstore experience was probably the most primitive. Most other bathrooms where more mainstream. My hotel lobby bathroom was well in another era.
When I first saw this contraption in the bathroom stall I at first thought it was more bidet-like, and realized these were just the flushing options for the toilet. Pulsating, front cleansing, rear cleansing, drying (click the photo to see it larger). Quite the experience. This was for lobby guests only, they did not give hotel guests the option to test out the features in our room. Although I did have a telephone. Not sure these days who would use a telephone in the bathroom, I mean we have iPhones for that.
The last interesting bathroom adventure while in China was in a restaurant bathroom. Each stall had a “water flow sound sensor.” I was especially intrigued by this due to the nature of our conversations at work about bathroom etiquette. When you pushed the button, it made the loudest flushing sounds and would do it again if you pressed the button again. It took me a bit to figure out that the sounds were meant to cover whatever noises you were going to make while using the commode. What is not to like?
The world works in mysterious ways especially pertaining to toilet paper, toilets, and flushing.