We need a new toilet. Two, in fact. Which means that I am now confronted with the specter of toilet shopping.
There was certainly a time in my life when news of my toilets' demise would have sent me into a tailspin (perfect metaphor!), the way that unanticipated home expenses can do when money is tight. Fortunately for us, my husband and I are both gainfully employed at the moment. Perhaps even better, neither of us is a federal employee (once again, the crapper providing exactly the right metaphor). So the prospect of toilet shopping fills me with--well, perhaps "delight" is an over-statement; but sure, I'll admit to a certain amount of sophomoric giddiness. I acknowledge that the sheer dumb luck of economic good fortune allows me to enjoy rather than dread this moment. I think of it as Bathroom Privilege.
I started my toilet shopping online, because online shopping of any sort is a much more compelling option, in the middle of a weekday, than doing the actual work for which people pay me. I sent my husband links to two possible options: one, a standard white toilet for around $275, the sort with which we will almost certainly end up. Here was the second:
The Neorest, in the tasteful shade of Sedona Beige pictured here, retails for $5,175. Truly the toilet for the 1% (although, for this price, one would expect it to serve the 2% equally well). And we need two! So much better than a semester -- make that a month -- no, three weeks -- of college tuition! How much can you learn in three weeks?
Steve, who will sometimes go for days without acknowledging my emails, responded immediately. He left messages on my office phone, my cell phone, and our home phone, then he sent an email, followed by a text. His answer, in dead earnest, was that really, though the Toto Dee-LUXE! was a thing of beauty, $5,175 is perhaps excessive for a toilet, and I should please please please not buy one (or two).
Well, DUH. I had to remind him that I am in fact the cheap one in our household, the one who buys generic aspirin while he reaches for Bayer; and that it would be thoroughly out of character for me to suggest anything beyond the barest-bowl toilet options; and how long have we been married, anyway, that he didn't immediately understand that I was joking? And in any event, the Neorest in Cotton White only costs $4,500, and fits in much better with our decor.
A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to my friend Katherine about blogging. Katherine is a gifted and insightful writer (http://katherineozment.com/) who used to blog regularly for Boston Magazine. She spoke of how, when she was blogging more frequently, she would constantly think of how she could find meaning in the most mundane of daily experiences.So I started to think about the meaning I could find in toilet shopping. What does it mean that we reject as absurd the notion of a luxury toilet purchase? In fact, when confronted with my last consumer purchase earlier this week, I made a very different choice. My 15-year-old daughter is a very enthusiastic clarinetist, and she needed a new reed case. We looked at several options. With a flourish of the credit card, I encouraged her to choose the top of the line model--despite the fact that it requires several replacements of the prioprietary humidifier package, every single year. Just look at this baby:
It holds eight reeds! Eight!! And it keeps them at pitch-perfect 85% humidity!
So yes to the bitchin' reed case. No to the luxury toilet. Perhaps I was willing to splurge on the reed case because it supports a narrative that feeds my ego. I am the supportive mother of a dedicated young classical musician. It takes discipline, classical music does. She must get it from her mother. And I like having a kid who can throw around references to Wagner and Stravinsky. There's "class" in classical music! So I am supportive, self-disciplined and classy. Nice story! I think I'll buy it.
Of course, buying it cost all of 28 bucks, plus of course the $5 humidifier inserts of which we will need maybe 3 a year. So what does it really say that I was willing to splurge on the $28 reed case but not on the $5,175 toilet? Not much, maybe.
I guess I wanted to write about buying toilets because toilets make my porcelain complexion flush with glee. Because they bowl me over. Because they make me Skip to my Loo. Because a new toilet is a Johnny-come-lately.
I wanted to write about toilets because toilets are funny. And sometimes that is enough.