Privacy matters

Way back in my childhood, right after the dinosaurs died out, there was a Nebraska elected official who had his office door taken off its hinges to symbolize openness in government. It might have been Norbert Tiemann, as I doubt it was Frank Morrison or James Exon. Growing up in a one-bathroom house, I didn't know much about privacy or political wheely-dealing behind closed doors. We had some basic rules for bathroom sharing:

1. Don't flush the toilet while someone is showering or they will be scalded.
2. Three squares of toilet paper is enough for all but the most extreme situations.
3. The red plastic drinking cup is for the person with strep throat only.
4. Grownups get really crabby when they have to use the plunger.
5. You darn well better learn to roll your hair on those big rollers with Dippity-Do fast enough so your whole family isn't lined up to use the bathroom. Otherwise, just plan to wear your hair short and straight your whole life.
5. If you shave your legs, you better clean the bathtub with Comet or burn in hellfire forever.
6. Cowboys of the Old West ate dried apricots to stay regular.
7. If a thermometer breaks, it's very fun to play with the beads of mercury on the linoleum tiles.
8. Thirty minutes of piano practice a day cures constipation.

There were also some arcane rules for operating the exhaust fan. It was okay to "play school" while sitting on the toilet, teaching imaginary students lined up on the edge of the bathtub. It was not a good idea to drop your pitch pipe in the toilet. It was not okay to crawl down through the laundry chute to the basement to spy on the grownup's New Years Eve party. You could eavesdrop through the clothes chute, just not crawl through.

These days, the bathroom is as open as that governor's office. We took the door off the hinges so Dad could maneuver his walker more efficiently. If you need a door removed, I know how. I am woman. Hear me roar. Hear me remove bathroom doors. Helen Reddy's playing with mercury on the floor.

In Utah in '78 I had to use a gas station restroom that had no door. We were on our way to Canyonlands National Park. At Dad's house, everyday is a doorless trip to Canyonlands. Please don't flush when I'm in the shower.

© 2007 Nancy L. Ruder

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