Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How many books are there in your bathroom?

It think I got my father's reading-in-the-bathroom gene.

When I was a little kid and my parents' friends would come to visit, sooner or later, the man would go into the bathroom and not come out for ages. Indeed, my mother would often send someone to knock on the Reading Room door to see if everything was OK. Dad kept a huge pile of Popular Mechanics in there. So yes, it was OK, if a bit uncivil start to finish.

Dad could leave his magazines in there with impunity but the rest of us couldn't. First, there wasn't room. It was the era of single family homes with but one small bathroom comprised of a sink on a pedestal (unless you were quite posh, in which case you had a cabinet under the sink), a toilet and a tub with shower. Two towel racks. End.

But it wasn't seemly to read in the bathroom, I expect, except when relaxing in a tub full of bubble bath. Then, however, one's books got splattered, and sometimes dropped in. I never saw the point of that. Reading when seated on other bathroom equipment sounded far more sensible. No splashing. No waterlogged dropped books. Just some entertainment while the business was completed.

When I grew up, I made no bones about books in the bathroom. By the time I owned a house, bathrooms had expanded and there was room i my bathroom for a little stand next to the toilet where I could put a pile of books or magazines. I developed the habit of having a bedroom book, a living room book, a breakfast table book and a bathroom book. I could then read four at once, more or less, and not worry about having to scout around and find the one I wanted to read next. Each one had its time and place.

I got less rigid about it as time went on. But joy of joys, my current bathroom has a large platform at the end of the tub, right next to the 'reading chair' on which I can place a container of bath salts, two rubber duckies, two bottles of bath oil, a stack of magazines and at least a half dozen books. I usually don't really keep that many there, and they tend to be quirky, especially now that the Kindle handles most of the "must" reading and the reference reading. The real books--the books I read for pleasure--stay next to my favorite chair in the living room.

So what's on my bathroom reading roster at the moment? Two issues of Cornwall Life; one issue of Devon Life; three recent copies of Waitrose supermarket's weekly newsprint publication full of recipes and wine tips, an ancient Trader Vic's book with "tasty beverage" recipes and Everyday Drinking by the late Kingsley Amis, introduction by the late Christopher Hitchens.

BTW, it doesn't bother me in the least that those involved with the drink books are all deceased. Trader Vic, i.e., Jules Bergeron, was 82 when he died. Amis was 73. Hitchens only 62, which might suggest drinkers are dying younger, but I don't believe it. An old friend who believed the ONLY thing to eat for lunch was a lobster salad and champagne--she was a former Ziegfeld girl--was still posing in swimsuits poolside at 79 and looking damn good.
Who'da thunk Barbara Stanwyck was a Ziegfield girl? My friend Dorothy was MUCH better endowed. (Wiki Commons)

I think I need to go buy some champagne and lobster now. I already have lettuce. I wouldn't mind looking like Dorothy did when I'm 79. Of course, the fact that I didn't have a Ziegfeld girl figure when I was 29 will be of no importance once everyone gets enough lobster and champagne into them.