Consider yourself warned: This column is going straight into the toilet. Leave now if you don’t want to follow me down.
Talking about bathrooms leaves a lot of people squeamish. And by “bathrooms” I don’t mean rooms with bathtubs in them, but rooms with toilets in them: the room where you do your business. And by “business” I don’t mean filing a prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission in preparation for taking your company public.
We’re not talking IPO. We’re talking “I pee, oh.”
Admit it: You do, too. (Feel free to fill in your own pun.)
In our house, there’s a powder room off the kitchen. I can guarantee you not a lot of nose-powdering goes on in there. That euphemism is just another example of how the body’s baser functions make us uneasy. It’s also known as a “half-bath,” as if someone took a chain saw to a soaking tub.
The other day, I noticed someone had left the toilet seat up in the powder room. I often find this after we’ve had tradesmen in the house: plumbers or electricians. But I don’t want to cast aspersions on honest, blue-collar folk. I find it when we’ve had guests over, too, elite members of the mainstream media. Elite male members.
Now, a quick word about that toilet. It’s a brand called Toto that replaced the model that was there when we moved in. I love my Toto. We bought it on the recommendation of a salesman who had been to a plumbing convention and seen a Toto representative demonstrate it by repeatedly feeding it a dozen golf balls and flushing them.
The salesman still got misty-eyed when he recounted this, as if he’d once witnessed the launch of an Atlas rocket or some other amazing feat of human ingenuity.
As for the toilet seat, we paid extra for a lid and seat that don’t slam down. Instead, they close slowly, like the petals of a night-flowering plant shutting gently in the morning. Perhaps the person who didn’t put the toilet seat down didn’t know about this feature.
Now, speaking as a man, I get the appeal of not putting the toilet seat down. You can save precious seconds when it comes time to put it up, which will inevitably be necessary. I imagine that in, say, a monastery or an NFL locker room, the toilet seat hardly ever goes down. But I’ve spent the past 30 years as the only man in a house full of women. Whatever desire I once had to leave the toilet seat up was leached away long ago. Now, the sight of an un-down toilet seat is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.
Of course, this isn’t really about the toilet seat. It’s about how we behave in other people’s homes. It seems to me you should treat someone else’s bathroom the way you treat the great outdoors: Take only pictures, leave only footprints. Although, to be honest, if you’re taking pictures in a friend’s bathroom, you may get arrested. They’re not going to be too happy about the footprints, either. But you know what I mean.
Not that I always agree with the bathroom choices of acquaintances. Guest bathrooms often have what’s called a “guest towel.” “Guest washcloth” is more like it.
Not only are guest towels small, they’re often fringed and embroidered. Drying your hands on one is like drying your hands on the Bayeux Tapestry, if the Bayeux Tapestry were the size of a handkerchief.
I get it: Your powder room is nicely decorated. You even have amazing little soaps that resemble seashells — and are about as useful when it comes to working up a lather. But, I hate to break it to you, no amount of hand-stitched toweling and designer soaps is going to obscure what goes on in this little room.
Still, I did put the toilet seat down.
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly.