Saturday, August 25, 2012

Living with Women: Bathoom Time

If you should hear in the upcoming weeks about me being found dead on the toilet, and authorities are baffled as to what might have killed me, I want you to copy and paste this article into the Crimestoppers tip line and pick up a quick hundred bucks. It'll be my parting gift to you, and it will also allow my spirit to rest from beyond the pale, with you having solved the mystery of my toilet death.

The following is a true story:

My home is entangled with estrogen. My wife is a woman. Our niece, currently living in the guest bedroom, is a woman. My dog is a teenage girl. The Bunker of Love is literally festooned with womanly accoutrements. Chief among them are candles. This is closely followed by scented oils and a tinderbox worth of incense. These things are deployed swiftly and often, usually shortly after I walk in the door from a day of running around and being sweaty.

I get it. I'm a guy. I smell. Okay, fair cop. Cathy insists that all of the candles are for soft, mood lighting, and I understand that, but sometimes the crossbreeding of scents is enough to make me go nuts (strange, I know, since everyone knows vanilla has a calming effect on theblah blah blah blah). I'll put up with it for so long, and then I have to go roll in dirt to get the patchouli stink off of me.

The worst room in the house is the bathroom. It's the only room that gets triple coverage: candles, incense, and some sort of lemony-citrus spray that I am pretty sure could eat through the tiles. The women hate it when I use the bathroom, and nearly every one of my exits is followed by one of them sneaking in and setting everything on fire, as if in a cleansing ritual.

I think this is pointless. I don't spend a lot of time in the bathroom and neither should they. If my daily, um, shall we say movement takes more than two minutes, then something's dreadfully wrong and I've got a raccoon lodged in my colon. I get in, do the deuce, and get out. Like a Navy SEAL.

But I have come to realize that the triple coverage pyre of essential oils and Scentsy cubes is not for me, but rather, for them. I'll occasionally walk into the bathroom and the wafting smells and amateur aromatherapy blends will clotheline me.  Still and all, I could just hold my breath, void my bladder, and bail. I could see what was causing the problem. There were no surprises.

Now, I told you that to tell you this: About a week ago, it's 3 A.M. and I've got to go. I get up, and I stagger down the hall, knowing exactly where I'm going, like Daredevil, and I stumble into the bathroom. I don't even bother to turn the light on. Sometimes, you just have to go.

So, I'm in the dark, and everything is going well. I'm half-asleep, but all of the moving parts are cooperating and I'll soon be back in the bed, unconscious. It's at that moment that I heard this loud, clattering kind of rattle behind me, in the darkness, from the top of the toilet tank. Even as I'm registering that sound, which was like cannon fire in the darkness of the bathoom, there came a distinct, spitting-like hiss.

Understand, I'm barely awake. But I've just heard what sounds like something being knocked over, followed by this percussive hiss, and my man-child brain immediately comes to the only conclusion that it can: "TOILET SNAKE!"

Note: not a real scene.
Sidebar: more than one person in Vernon, Texas, has told me of their trouble with squirrels in their toilet. The first time I heard of such a phenomenon was from my mother-in-law. She opened her lid, and found a wet, pissed off squirrel in the bowl. This happened, she told me, when the squirrel got in from a pipe on the roof.

I don't know very much about toilets, but I do know they are gravity-fed systems, and the very concept of a squirrel climbing into a pipe on the roof and ending up in a toilet bowl is sorcery to me. It's witchcraft and deviltry, and I'll have none of it.

My mother-in-law insisted that it was a recurring problem. She told me she had to call my brother-in-law to come get it out with a lasso. You heard me, a lasso. He roped the damn squirrel. I know how it sounds, and you're right. But these things actually occurred. To offset the sheer oddity of the place in which I found myself living, I invented the species North Texas Toilet Squirrel to help explain and downplay some of the oddness of it all. A little mean? Sure, but I never thought it would be a hurtful thing. Everyone, at least, thought it was a funny situation.  I mean, can you imagine the squirrel's end of the deal? "Dammit, Larry, you said 'take the right pipe!' I'm in the pipe, and no, it doesn't lead to the nut pile on the ground, you imbecile. Where am I? I'll tel you where I am, Larry: in a friggin' toilet. Yeah, 'that thing that they sit on to make poopie.' This isn't over, my friend. You have pissed off the wrong squirrel this time!"

Okay, now it's six years later, and the thought "Toilet Snake!" has just pinged through my mind. As soon as the hissing stopped, I realized that I had come up off of the toilet, and spun around in mid-air, and pressed my back flat against the opposite wall. The movement was fluid, so very fast, and even as I'm jumping up, my rational mind is saying to me, "Toilet snake? What are you, a goon? There's no toilet snake any more than there's a toilet squirrel--oh, I get it, it's karma." I was thinking all of that. What I was saying was, "AIIIIIIIEEEEE!" I could have cracked a champagne glass with my girlish scream.

Realizing, too, that I'm in pitch blackness, and unable to see this ophidian horror, I lunged sideways and slammed on the light. That was a dumb thing to do, because I'm now blind. But man, do I smell nice...

I opened my eye and peered out. On the tank of the toilet was one of those Fabreeze motion-sensor fragrence dispensers. Orchard Blossom, I believe. The only thing that kept me from waking everyone up to yell at them was the fact that I was in the bathroom already. Otherwise, there would have been some laundry to do, and I wouldn't have been the one doing it.

That damn contraption has caught me three more times since then. Every damn time, I forget it's back there, until Ka-Chunk! HISSST! The only good thing about it is it's cut my bathroom time in half.