Things in this household run on time. If my mother was a man and went into the Army, I would have been the daughter of a drill sergeant.
Like her predecessor, Henri Fayol, she believes there is one best way of doing things. Cleaning the bathtub, for instance.
The bathtubs and sinks in the house have to be replaced about every seven years.
Because of the way they are cleaned.
This is the way that it goes:
After you bathe, you dry yourself off in the shower so that you don’t track water everywhere.
Then you take the squeegee thing and squeegee the moisture off of the inside of the shower doors and the tiles. Moisture creates mildew.
Then you take the soap out of the dish and put it back in its cardboard container, to be placed outside of the shower beside the towel rack. If the soap is left in water, it will leave gummy soap deposits in the soap dish.
Get the special soap rag. Clean the soap dish with the rag. Rag goes back under the sink.
Fetch the bleach. Spray down the inside of the bathtub with bleach solution. Let it sit for a minute.
(Be sure to crack the window first, too. The fumes get a little intense.)
Turn on the hot water and scrub the bathtub with the brush. Then rinse all the bleach out.
Return bleach and brush under the sink.
Check. Make sure there is no hair in bathtub.
Put toiletries back in place. Put the cap back on the safety razor.
Wipe the chrome with a soft cloth so that it is shiny and there are no water spots. Put the cloth away.
Hang up the bath mat. Must be hung lengthwise and it must be perfectly even.
Hang up bath towel. Ditto.
Now you can leave the bathroom. Leave the door open so that the mirror unfogs and you can use it to apply your makeup or put in your contact lenses or whatever. You can’t use a towel to wipe off the fog because it leaves streaks.
This is done every time you take a shower. You have to ration your time correctly, because it must be done, even if you’re in a hurry to leave the house.
The good news is, once you get the system down, you can execute this chore in about five minutes.
The bad news is: it’s….well, do I really need to tell you why it’s bad…?
I one bad memory about this from my childhood. I think I was about eleven, and my brother was eight (he remembers this one too, by the way).
Bathtime was after dinner, before bed. Sometimes he’d go first, sometimes I would. Anyway, we took our baths and went to our rooms and everything was normal until I heard Mom shouting at us to come to the bathroom.
Someone had left a wet towel on the floor, and she wanted to know who had left it.
She was pissed. I remember her standing there and pointing at it, like a cop pointing at a murder weapon and telling the accused that he might as well confess.
Well, I wasn’t taking the blame for that one. Nope. No siree.
My brother denied it also.
Mom told us that we could just wait there in the bathroom until someone took the blame and then hung up the towel.
We both settled down to wait. She went to take her bath and get ready for bed.
My brother and I bickered back and forth a little over whose fault it was. I continued to insist it was not mine, but here it is, The Awful Truth: I was lying. I was the one who left the towel. I’d just forgotten it…but I sure as hell wasn’t going to admit it. Not when I’d get into trouble.
This is also The Awful Truth: I was older and stronger, and I knew he’d break first.
And he did. It probably took an hour and a half, judging from the sounds on the television.
He started crying and said that he did it, and then Mom let him hang up the towel and go to bed.
Many years later, I was drinking at my brother’s house, and I told him that I knew he wasn’t the one who left the towel.
“Oh, I know,” he said. “Believe me, I know.”
I apologized. He accepted.
I told my shrink about that one. She thought that my mother overreacted. It was just a towel, she said.
The bathtubs are replaced because all that bleach destroys the enamel. Privately, I think this is sort of funny. We had to destroy the bathtub in order to clean it!