Well, I showed you a glimpse of the worst bathroom in the Western Hemisphere yesterday. Bold claim, I know. But in case you missed it, here it is again:
That is, as they say in Mejico, no bueno. This is just how we found the only working bathroom in our house when we bought it. I think that’s antifreeze in the bowl. I mean, I pray that’s anti-freeze in the bowl. Other possibilities are too gruesome to consider. The rest of the room was just as bad. The tub was a horror. I think they were washing farm animals and degreasing auto parts in it, mostly. The sink had scorch marks all over it where the former owners had put down their cigarettes while washing their hands, or whatever they were washing and smoking. I had to convince myself, and then my family, that if I got running water in there, we could use this room for a while. If the room was actually full of wolves, instead of just the wallpaper border variety, it would still be about as inviting to enter. I got the plumbing going, shellacked the floor, painted the walls off-white, and we used it like that. For years.
No matter how you slice it, bathrooms and kitchens cost real money. You can redecorate a bedroom for pennies compared to a bathroom. Hell, that’s the true reason ginormous houses are so cheap, comparatively. After you put in a kitchen, a couple of bathrooms, an HVAC system, and some plumbing, all the rest of the rooms are just big, cheap, plastery boxes tacked onto the expensive core. A six-bedroom house is a lot cheaper than a six-bathroom house for this reason. We just couldn’t afford to fix this bathroom properly for a long time.
But I exaggerated a bit when I said this was the worst bathroom in Christendom. There is one example that’s worse: no bathroom. We flirted with the no bathroom gambit during our Geyser of Excrement period, which you may remember. I sure do.
When we bought this house, I was sure that this bathroom would be the first room in the house to get a real makeover. I was sure wrong. We limped along with it for many years. Four of us using it every day didn’t make it any more convivial in there. But I’d learned my lesson when this hellhole flirted with giving up the poopy ghost. A bad bathroom is bad, but you must avoid the no bathroom problem at all costs. So when it came time to actually do something about this bathroom, I did the smart thing, for the second time in my life. I built another bathroom to take its place first. I entered my Blue Period.
There was this room at the end of the hall upstairs. It’s in the back of the house, so those windows are four stories above ground. Helluva view. But the room was really weirdly configured. There was a lot of it, but it wasn’t in a useful shape.
And like everything in my house, including the exterior, it was painted a dreadful blue color. I essentially never use blue in color schemes for houses. No matter how you slice it, it’s a cool color. In a climate like ours, painting your rooms in arctic shades is a bad idea. And don’t try to run that jive on me about “warming up” the blue color. If you warm up blue enough to live in a room painted with it, it’s green. I just start out with green and skip the blue period altogether.
There was no working electricity in the room. There was a hanging pull-chain light fixture that whacked me in the face over and over like Moe, but it never worked. Mice had chewed all the insulation off the wires leading to that baseboard heater, so we wouldn’t be turning that on. Because the room was so useless, the kids took it over and made it their own. They said they wanted to learn to play music in there. With no heat or electricity, I was certain they really meant it when they said it. If people will do things when they’re hard, they’ll do even more things when it’s easy.
My wife and I used to enjoy watching the kids play up there, with bits of plaster from the ceiling falling on our heads.
But time passes and the kids found other places to play, and the Blue Room was back in circulation.
So the floor was sagging, and the roof was crumbling, and the room was shaped like a Minotaur’s lair. There was no plumbing and no electricity. This was going to be easy.