Bathroom Wars

The community bathroom on the Newerish side of the house had been thoughtfully designed by George for his elderly parents, built by modern standards. Attractive lighting was installed, all the fixtures were new, and safety bars were mounted beside the commode and in the shower. The shower itself was spacious, with a walk-in floor and molded ledge that doubled as a seat for handicapped bathers. The room was modestly appointed with a towel rack, a soap dish, and a small trash can, and for a while it was the nicest room on the Farm.

After his folks passed and George turned their home into a backwoods boarding house, the bathroom lost its charm. What had been intended as a lavatory for standard use, like social calls or the occasional overnight guest, now served the hygiene needs of approximately eighteen people. All of George’s off-grid cabin dwellers used it, his CoolCampers and anyone slumming it in a tent or RV, couch surfers, random visitors and farm help, the nightly power drinkers congregated around the wood stove, and anyone else too lazy or large to make the trip upstairs to use their own toilet.

Conditions deteriorated most dramatically during times when the male to female ratio at the Farm was higher in testosterone. Where one might envision the proud team spirit of a troop of Boy Scouts all pitching in to keep their camp clean, they would be wrong, and the place started looking more like a disease-ridden filth pit in a Liberian flophouse. What had once been a soap dish now existed solely as a shaved whisker collector, and several rusty disposable razors lay nearby. Bandage wrappers and used dental floss littered the counter, and active-duty toothbrushes lay about, occasionally getting knocked onto the filthy floor where they might be picked up by a do-gooder and put back in place.

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