Battle for the bathroom

Deborah San Angelo, Staff Writer

Every year, when days get shorter and nights bleaker, some of us string up colored lights and bring evergreens into our houses. We get together with family and friends to create a warm, cozy atmosphere, as if to reassure ourselves. Those homes filled with warmth and good cheer will likely have clean bathrooms.

No matter what your religious beliefs, you use the bathroom many times during the holiday season. For some of us, it will be the only alone time we’ll get. Whether standing, sitting, reading or hanging your head over it, the toilet will play a major part in your holidays. It recognizes no distinctions of race, creed or social standing. And while it may not be the most tasteful symbol of world unity, for all practical purposes, it is.

In a community of cave dwellers, cleaning the bathroom probably wasn’t an issue. But now, one of the ugly truths about co-habitation is who gets to clean the bathroom. I mean really clean it, not merely disguise the evidence. In my house that honor always goes to me, the sole female. It’s not that the issue hasn’t been addressed. The two men I live with are fair minded, easy going and evolved in their thinking. But no matter what they say they’ll do, they never do their fair share of cleaning the bathroom.

I don’t believe they intend to be unfair. They just happen to be extremely lazy and mold-tolerant guys. But when I’m in the thick of it, scrubbing down exotic bacteria and inhaling toxic fumes, I can feel the inequality of the entire human race press down on my shoulders.

Over the centuries, allegedly “natural” roles have needed rigorous enforcement. If they were truly natural, wouldn’t they just come naturally? There would be no need to attempt to make men and women fit into appropriate roles. Although gender equality has progressed through the years, it has been a slow and painful process. While we may want to go beyond the narrow limits of traditional gender roles, they still exist in our minds. The external changes compete with the internal concepts many of us have, and confusion can arise about who should get to clean the bathroom.

Equality is a complex issue. Without summoning the passion of the feminist movement, I’d like a standard of fairness in place. I’d like a bathroom that’s gender neutral; I’d like a Christmas miracle.

Each time the bathroom gets bad, I wait and hope for the miracle. I leave hints around, such as spreading out cleaning supplies all over the floor. They just step around them. I’ve lined up spray bottles in formations that lead up to the bathroom. Who can overlook a parade? I’ve pointed spray nozzles toward target areas. They pay no heed to my thoughtfully planted clues. In the meantime, the mold continues to crawl up the shower wall to the bottoms of the shampoo bottles.

The holidays are approaching and there’s a less than ideal situation in our bathroom. I’m sure guests will feel extra special when we don’t let them use it.

Since my housemates are both pretty handy, maybe they could build an outhouse. It’s probably easier than getting them to clean the bathroom.