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I can live†here

I canít live here, I remember thinking of Dallas, this thought was solely based on aesthetics, things were too new, too fresh, the paint hadnít dried on the latest tract home and another cul de sac was already being paved down the block, bug signs advertising homes in the low 130ís north of Plano, in planned communities, planned around convenience to your favorite chain stores that took up hundreds of thousands of square feet to sell you white bread, produce from Peru, underwear and hunting licenses all in the place. No I couldnít live there, I liked the Jews, I liked the food, the sense of community was great, but there was something missing and for some that something wasnít anything at all.

Iím thinking almost the same thought as I sit on this toilet bowl in San Francisco, marveling at the toilet paper dispensary that is built into the wall, I havenít seen one like it outside of the aging pre-war buildings in New York City. It all started with a toilet dispensary holder atop a steep hill up the street from the Castro, these thoughts of permanence, these thoughts of ďI can live hereĒ which donít come to mind often. What comes to mind is, ďI like it hereĒ but it is never resounding of permanence, it is never of the acknowledgement that I like it enough to settle, I donít even like the word settle, yet it rings nicely.

The bathroom floor also contained the white octagonal tiles that most New York City bathrooms have, my bathroom floor growing up was of the small octagonal variety, I can remember thinking the same thing in Hotel Saranac in Saranac Lake, NY where I was staying and working for the State and I really enjoyed the deep bathtub as well, the kind that fills high enough that a grown person can drown himself inside of it without worrying about spillage.

I really hate suburban bathtubs and showers, they bother me immensely, enough that I donít notice it much, Iíve learned to live with the oddities of suburban bathrooms, the toilets with the little bowls of water above the actual bowl that never seem to shut off. The one faucet to control hot and cold, shower and bath, I grew up with two sets of two faucets and I firmly believe that life was much more stress free because of it, we never had to explain our shower secrets to guests, who wondered if there were any ďtricksĒ to using our bathroom. I must mention that our toilet, in later years, began to loose itís precious 8th floor pressure that we so adored. City toilets, especially those in the Washington Heights neighborhood have very good pressure, compared to the newer economical toilets, they get the job done without the usage of scrubbers and multiple flushes on a Shabbat afternoon.

Sometime just before we put our apartment up on the market to rent, the toilet I grew up on lost its pressure, it was so tough to flush, that each member of my family figured out their own way to fidget and flush it so that everything went down. I myself believed that one flush followed by two quick draw flushes during the first flush did the job most of the time. I heard through the thick wood door, guests wondering how they would get the big turd they just released down the hole, I heard them stroking their beards wondering what on earth they were going to do Ė maybe they figured we werenít formal enough to care, because some acted as if it went down when in reality the next person to use the bathroom would find it floating amidst dirtied toilet paper with bubbles from the last flush.

Itís not just the age of the bathrooms, itís the wood paneling, the random design around the lights in peoples rooms, the firm slam of the front door and the doorknobs themselves, the kind you actually need to hold with your hand, the kind that are made of glass that reflects sun in a rainbow way.

For some itís the views, but for me, itís the aesthetics of the place. Some say I have an old soul, I like older folks, always befriend nice older ladies who are willing to listen to my sarcasm, feed me leftovers and talk to me about my dating escapades, but itís more than that. I feel the need to connect with the past constantly, I donít worry about it, I donít cry over spilled milk, but I want to see the spilled milk.

I dislike the newness of certain places, maybe thatís why I always liked the urban village model of urban planning, small towns with wide tree lined streets, maybe something out of Penny Lane, but from the bygone era of folks leaving their homes to walk to the dog, mow their lawn or enjoy each others company without the convenience of chain stores, cell phones and 6 lane highways. I like the urban worker, the fellow or gal who walks to work and comes home from work with a bag of groceries from the local grocer he knows by name, I even enjoy writing and receiving letters in the mail Ė I was telling someone that the type of girls I am interested in understand this immediately Ė itís an unspoken agreement, similar to loving the aromas and general vibe of a used book store, freshly ground coffee or the excitement at getting your produce from your local CSA.

Maybe those folks will understand my bathroom situation, the angst I get around suburban bathrooms, new bathrooms, showers with round dials and no clear hot and coldness, showers that you have to pull up on something to turn it into the shower and pull down on something to let the excess shower water run over your toes out of the bathtub faucet, kind of reminds me of the excess fuel in the hose at the gas station from the person before you, grabbing that hose and spilling a few drops of fuel on the floor and smelling like gasoline the rest of the day, it didnít even touch you, yet it still smells Ė strange isnít it.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Yserbius the Yekke November 8, 2010, 4:39 PM

    I have no idea where to put my shidduch resume/profile (http://twitter.com/#!/frumsatire/status/1729180798554112) so I guess I’ll just do it here:

    Yserbius the Yekke, 28 years old.
    Father, Av Yserbius: Very active in the community. Ba’al Tzedaka. Close with several gedolei hador.
    Mother, Aim Yserbius: Ba’alas chesed. Helps with many families in the neighborhood.

    Ach Yserbius (29): Learning in BMG, living very well in West Gate.
    Achot Yserbius (27): Husband works for Av Yserbius. Housewife. Very frum and yeshivish.

    Yserbius is a nice friendly guy who wants a warm friendly family and to learn Torah all day long. Money is not an issue, and neither are looks, but she should really have a nose no larger than 0.7 inches, black straight hair and her father should be willing to buy a Lexus minivan when there are too many kids to fit into the Bentley. He is very frum and yeshivish but “normal”. He is open to going to college maybe sometime in the future if it becomes absolutely necessary. He wants a girl who is willing to be his aishes chayil and lend emotional support to him when he’s learning. She must be willing to have at least 12 single friends of his over every shabbos, cook for them and provide cholent for them Thursday nights. Single girls may not come over for shabbos meals, as Yserbius is very frum and that would not be tznius.

  • s(b.) November 8, 2010, 4:45 PM

    Welcome home, buddy. ūüôā

  • OfftheDwannaB November 8, 2010, 9:58 PM

    I think Stuff white people like summed this up obsession here:

  • Jenny November 9, 2010, 4:32 PM

    With just a little less emphasis on toilets and usage thereof, I could have written this. I love those white octagonal tiles – OK to mix in a few black ones – and the glass doorknobs. And I’m trying to wonder when it became important to decorate a bathroom anyway.

  • My Toe is On Fire, My Fire is Free, My Toe is On Fire, Go Dance in the Sea. Sea whale, I am. See me jump, Go Go! Sea Whale Eats Hexagons; Drive, Swims Near. November 11, 2010, 9:40 PM

    Where would you want to live?

  • Chris_B November 13, 2010, 2:14 PM

    I am absolutely amazed but this post made me understand why I am uncomfortable in the bathroom of my house. It is not because the toilet area (separate room from the bath, thats how it is in Japan) is small or located under the stairs, it is because the dang toilet paper dispenser is not built into the wall and it makes me think of the newness and impermanence of the house itself.

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