The bathroom as showplace

August 15, 1994|By KEVIN COWHERD

|TC People spend an incredible amount of time and energy decorating their bathrooms, and I'm not sure this is healthy.

In the old days, bathrooms basically consisted of a sink, toilet and shower. See, bathrooms weren't showcases back then. They were functional. You weren't there to browse. You weren't there for an experience.

Now bathrooms are so cluttered with knick-knacks, plants, magazine racks, inspirational poems, etc., that there's hardly any room to do whatever it is you went there to do.

A lot of bathrooms have little baskets of potpourri, which is

possibly the most annoying substance on the planet.

I was in a specialty store the other day that was selling bathroom potpourri in scents that included pink grapefruit, peach and amaretto.

My feeling here is: Hey, it's a bathroom! It's not supposed to smell like Betty Crocker's kitchen.

I don't know anyone who wants to walk into a bathroom and think: Say, is someone baking a cake in here?!

Almost as annoying as potpourri are those ceramic dishes with the little round soap balls.

It would be one thing if you were actually allowed to use the little round soap balls. But of course they're only there for decorative purposes.

If you actually tried to wash your hands with one, the owner of the house would probably kick the door in and scream: "What are you, stupid?! You're only supposed to look at that stuff!"

No wonder people are confused -- in most bathrooms, you hardly ever see a bar of soap anymore.

Now a lot of people use that soap that comes in those liquid dispensers with the little pump. And many of the dispensers are in the shape of a swan or a ballerina or something equally precious.

This isn't something I like to admit, but we have a soap dispenser in one bathroom in the shape of a teddy bear.

Sometimes when I'm washing up late at night, I look in the mirror and think: Here I am, 42 years old. I got bags under my eyes. I got a bad knee that has all the consistency of yogurt. And now I'm squeezing soap from the top of a teddy bear's head.

It makes you wonder. It really does.

I don't know why you don't find bars of soap in bathrooms anymore -- probably because it was too convenient. Now they're like relics.

If you find a bar of soap in a bathroom now, you can pretty well figure the owner of the house is old enough to have waded ashore at Omaha Beach. And his wife was probably riveting the tail sections of B-29s while he was away.

Old people are the only ones with any brains anymore.

It's the same thing with towels, of course. People don't hang real towels in their bathrooms anymore. Now they hang decorative little hand towels and finger towels that look like they belong to the Keebler Elves.

People also love to decorate their bathrooms with art work and photographs these days, like they're museums or something.

I was at a cocktail party once and heard the hostess say: "Marie, you should see the new Richard Avedon print we bought. It's upstairs in the bathroom."

Now if Marie had any common sense, she would have said: "Yeah, well, I'll check it out next time I'm up there. Now where's the onion dip?"

Instead she goes shooting up the stairs, like this is the greatest thing she ever heard. Me, I'm thinking: If it's a really cool picture, what's it doing hanging in the bathroom?

That's sort of like buying a Renoir and tacking it to the furnace in the basement. I don't know . . . it seems to me that if you hang anything besides a picture of those poker-playing dogs in your bathroom, it's overkill.

The other thing people like to hang on their bathroom walls are inspirational sayings. This is fine, I guess, if you go to the bathroom for inspiration. But not many people do. Most people go to the bathroom just because they have to, not because they want drink in the collected wisdom of Norman Vincent Peale.

For some reason, my brother and his wife have a picture of Vince Lombardi, the legendary Green Bay Packer coach, hanging in their bathroom.

I can't tell you how unsettling it is to be in there and have Vince Lombardi staring down at you with that piercing gaze. Underneath the picture is Lombardi's famous quote: "Winning isn't everything -- it's the only thing!"

OC I suppose. But we could probably get into that some other time.

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