Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The Water Closet
I'm reading a book right now called Possession by A.S. Byatt. It's good--I've been meaning to read it for ages because several of my loved ones have recommended it over the years. It's name is actually "Possession: A Romance," which I think is a little bit silly because it's a "Romance" kind of like Jim Lehrer is an "Entertainer." Technically yes, many, many people watch The NewsHour on PBS every Sunday, and they enjoy it. But it's not entertaining, per sey. "Enriching" might be a better word. What I'm trying to say is that Possession is a "Romance" if you call endless talk about literary criticism romantic.
But enough about that.
What lead me to write about this is that last night I started thinking, "what is this book about? Because it's sure as sugar not very romantic." And as far as I can tell, Possession is really about Bathrooms. Every character's bathroom is described in the minutest detail. And Boy Howdy are there some fabulous bathrooms! My favorite is the bathroom in the castle with the mahogany toilet seat, hand carved and painted with woodland flowers--swoon! Anyway, once I discovered that the book should be called Possession: Some Bathrooms, I got really into it, because I love bathrooms.
I believe that in a bathroom, you glimpse the interior of a soul. Strong language, I know, but in my mind, taking a look around someone's loo is as telling as going through their garbage. What is their toothpaste management system? Do they clean their bathtub regularly? Close their shower curtain? Do they leave their toiletries out or squirrel them away in a drawer? Products can tell you a lot about how beautiful someone thinks they are vs. how beautiful they believe they may potentially become. A closed toilet seat means they might have pets.
So, thank you A.S. Byatt for validating my long-held belief that you get to know a person--really get to know them--through their bathroom. And as far as Romance is concerned, on a grey day in January, I begin to have romantic feelings about my bathtub, too.