Of all the chores to be done around a home, cleaning the bathroom has always been my least favorite. Having been one of the earliest assigned to me, this disdain may be among the longest-standing dislikes of my entire thirty-year-old life (older even than my dislike for the designated hitter). Cleaning dishes? I have yet to meet the pot or pan capable of withstanding my time-honed attacks. Dusting/polishing furniture? I can do that with my eyes closed and not even remember doing it five minutes later. Taking out the trash? Honestly, I've always enjoyed this one, because it was a removal of things. I've always enjoyed getting rid of things. One would think it at odds with my collector mentality, but I have often postulated that my purge side exists as yin to my collector side's yang. They help me find a balance of how much material crap I need at any one time.
What I think I hate most about the bathroom is not only is it by far the most time-consuming of weekly chores, but it's the most exhausting. I can spray the glass cleaner on the mirror, wipe it down and realize how unshaven I've become in about two minutes. I can clear a counter of deodorant, hand soap and the shaving supplies I have clearly neglected; spray some cleaner; wipe down the entire sink area and have the aforementioned items restored in about four minutes. So, in about six minutes, I've entirely wiped out the sink and its mirror. Wiping down the toilet tank of the odd stray hair is no big deal (though it has always baffled me that a hair can find its way onto the side of the tank cover), and running a scrub brush around the bowl takes less time than flushing. Even adding the cleaner is no big deal; you just douse the bowl and leave it until you need to flush. Another five minutes, and we're up to eleven minutes.
By floor plan design, I've already knocked out two-thirds of the room (or half, if you count the floor itself). Somehow, though, that bathtub/shower looms larger after each of its predecessors goes down for the count. Eleven minutes ago, I thought the shower wasn't too bad this week. I would spray, wipe, smile. Five minutes ago, when I started the toilet, I noticed the shower was a bit worse for wear than I'd realized. I would need to spray, scrub, wipe, smile. A little extra work, but not as bad as last time.
I never know how to dress for cleaning the shower. Instinct says it's wrong to wear anything into the shower, but it also says exposing flesh to chemicals is also a no-no. I usually compromise and clean in my boxers and a T-shirt I can live without if it comes down to it. My feet always want me to protect them in socks, but the foreman says that safey precaution would endanger the rest of the crew so they involunatarily go without. So I remove the Gillette products that keep me fresh and clean and the few things of my wife's (including her loufa, and I never know how to handle it out of the shower). They get wiped down until they're dry and then they get to visit the recently cleaned sink counter, or maybe sit atop the closed toilet. This time, I line them up along the vacant towel rod.
I spray, and unlike the previous targets, I can channel my inner Sundance Kid and just keep pointing and spraying the whole thing. When I'm feeling spunky, I jerk my spraying hand from left to right, picking off rooftop snipers. Today, I'm sore so I just go left-to-right, top-to-bottom and wait. The dish fairy has ignored my request and so after two days I finally get around to those in the kitchen while the cleaner works its way into the shower's grime. How many forks did we use last week? When did we get a third style of knives?
Fifty-nine pieces of silverware and fifteen minutes later, I return to the shower. I scrub, letting the sheer size of my new brush do most of the work for me. I rinse it, run it back over the shower, rinsing away the filth that I'd just exposed by scrubbing. It really didn't look this bad fifty-nine pieces of silverware ago, but that's the funny thing about cleaning. At the end, it always looks better than it did at the beginning, but for some reason it always looks far worse in the middle. Three scrub/rinse cycles later, I wonder if I'd be better off never cleaning it again. I mean, it looked a lot better originally than it does now, right?
Eventually, of course, I manage to find a stopping point. I could always keep going, but there comes a moment when the brain says, "I'm not getting enough oxygen in this room anymore" and you're forced to call it a day. You step away, knowing you have to return to mop the floor at some point. And when you do reach the finish line, there's a disappointing sense of irony. You want to leave the room in its current, clean state to be admired by one and all. "Did you see that bathroom? It was spectacular!" bystanders will say. I'll order brochures from Vista Print and hand them out in the neighborhood, and have to tell the overflow crowd that I'm sorry, but the fire marshal simply will not allow more spectators to come inside and see my handiwork.
And, while reflecting on this time consuming chore that robbed my brain of some oxygen it insists on having, I hear the flushing of water. Before I have logged onto vistaprint.com, or even mopped the floor, someone has already ruined the whole afternoon's progress. Oh, maybe a shower wasn't taken, but I know there'll be water spots all over the sink and mirror when I return. Maybe the unappreciated visitor had to blow his or her nose, and I'll find the empty garbage can blemished with litter. I don't have OCD, but I'll be tempted to start anew. I won't, of course, because my brain won't allow it. My feet will demand socks if they're to work overtime on this project. So, I'll try to just wipe away the spots with some toilet paper. I'll struggle between tossing it in the garbage can and flushing it away. The garbage can would be the eco-friendlier solution, but it would also be a visible blight on my day's work.
Maybe I can chug some water before I go in and justify another flush.