El Baño

Well, what can I say about the bathroom? It was a bit bigger than the bathroom I now possess and had a garden tub. Granted, it was one of those plastic almond-colored one-piece mobile home units, but my mother wanted a garden tub and a garden tub she got.

For some reason that eludes me now as much as then, one of the very first things my mother did was replace the brown linoleum in the bathroom with dark green carpet. She bought a matching double-curtained shower drape and hung a straw hat she’d decorated with ribbons and plastic flowers above the toilet.

The shower curtain was always closed. No one could leave the bathroom after showering without putting their wet towel in the laundry basket by the door and closing the curtain. Ever.

Which was, naturally, the rule in my own household when I had my own apartment, and later when I was first married. Until the day Carl was murdered. I don’t think my shower curtain was ever closed again (especially at night) for at least 7 years. Well, right about the time his murderer died, come to think of it. NOW the curtain can be closed and I can sleep.

The corner sink unit had a large under-sink cabinet and the sink itself was, of course, almond colored and plastic with cheap clear knobs with a red “H” and blue “C” on the tops.

I sat on that counter with my feet in the sink when I was ten and wanted to shave my legs. I had my father’s shaving cream slathered on and my mom’s razor all set and ready to go when my mom caught me. They’d been on their way out the door to go on an extremely rare dinner date. Everyone had a good laugh, my mom took some pictures, and I never again thought of shaving my legs until the day in my freshman year of high school I was teased about my hairy legs by a boy.

I sat on the counter several times over the years learning to stitch up the myriad wounds my father came home with. I learned to use a razor and carefully shave away the remnants of broken fingernails from the nail bed, how to use horse sutures to stitch someone’s hand back together, and how to keep my head when my big brother passed out after having an incident with the “canon” on the 4th of July. They brought in a lawn chair for him to sit on and keep his head down while my dad finished stitching and I sopped up the blood.

In all those times of profuse bleeding and passing out and such, I don’t remember a single drop of blood staining that green carpet.

I do remember, though, the year my cousin Lisa came to visit from California and left a permanent bleach mark on the bathroom carpet. She listened to New Kids on the Block on her walkman on the Sabbath and bleached her hair blonde while the grown ups were at church. She was 13. I was 9.

After that there was a green rug that lived directly on top of that bleach spot in front of the sink.

Above the sink there was a three-paneled mirror cabinet where the neosporin, betadine, rubbing alcohol, and bandages were kept. There were very rarely any prescriptions in our house, and never kept in the cabinet.

The towels were neatly stacked beneath the sink in the cupboard, beside my mother’s makeup bag and the ace bandages. Behind those, in the back corner, my mother kept her boxes of tampax and pads. After her hysterectomy when she was 34 (I was 8) she saved the remainder for when I would someday need them. Of course, I inevitably did, though I don’t think I ever fully appreciated the sentiment.

I remember going through a brief time of total water paranoia when I was 4. Though I’d always liked baths and water and swimming at the river, I must have seen some Jaws or something because I was suddenly terrified to get in the bathtub and tried to convince them that I’d ALWAYS been terrified. I remember my mom making a mark on the side of the tub with her eyeliner to show how deep the water would get and no deeper. It was about 4 inches from the bottom of the tub. I cried hysterically. And then I got a smack on the seat of my pants. And I took a bath with only minimal hyperventilating.




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