The Magical Mildew Tour: My Ugly Bathroom

Let’s not sugar coat this or dick around with a flurry of pretty words: I have the world’s worst bathroom. Period.

While I love every other room of my awesome, spacious, two-bedroom apartment; there are few, if any, good qualities about its bathroom. It’s relatively small. It’s hot. It’s poorly conceived. In short, my bathroom is ugly and it sucks.

The only redeeming factor about my bathroom is that it provides me with prime blogging fodder, particularly since my bathroom’s abundance of negative qualities are exacerbated in the summer time. Considering that I live in an apartment, there isn’t much I can do about it.

For now, indulge me in my catharsis and allow me to take you on a guided tour of my awful bathroom. Think of it as MTV’s Cribs for the not-rich and not-famous. Unlike most of those profiled on Cribs, I won’t be pulling a bottle of Cristal from a small fridge behind my toilet. The best you might be able to hope for is a swig of Boone’s Farm, or a few bottles of Malibu swiped from a hotel mini bar that I stashed in my makeup bag under the sink. If you’re good, I’ll let you have a full one to yourself. Come on! It’ll be fun!

A Frustrating Foundation

A wise man once said to begin at the beginning — the very foundation of things. I have no idea who that wise man was, but he was a damn sight more intelligent than whoever designed my bathroom. On the other hand, my bathroom could have been designed by a genius if that genius happened to be the Marquis de Sade.

The floor and the lower half of my bathroom’s walls are covered in tile. This is good. Tile is good.

The remaining half of my bathroom’s walls and ceiling are done in plaster. This is bad.

Well. At least it’s not flocked.

The portion of the walls formed by said plaster are covered in wallpaper. The ceiling remains uncovered. This is REALLY bad.

And I’m not even getting into the unspeakably horrible aesthetics of the wallpaper just yet, either. All I can say is at least it’s not flocked. Regardless, the ancient wallpaper covering the plaster walls (which is so old it probably has the Egyptian Book of the Dead printed on the back of it) has been applied in portions, rather than one smooth sheet.

Apparently, some Mensa candidate thought that while finished dry wall works for every other room in the house, plaster would be a terrific idea for the bathroom. They probably thought that it might be fun for the person inside the bathroom to experience portions of the ceiling randomly flaking off and dropping onto the bathroom tile or between a person’s legs as they stand up to wipe. This may or may not have been the same genius who thought it would be a good idea to wallpaper a bathroom — a room explicitly stated in its very name to be devoted to usage of water and generation of condensation.

Skylight, Shit Tight / First Turd That I Squeeze Tonight

My bathroom’s most sadistic feature: The non-functioning skylight set precariously in plaster. Note the rolled edges of the wallpaper. Smashing!!

Perhaps the bathroom’s most sadistic feature, however, is the skylight. The skylight is non-functioning and sealed from both the outside and inside. It does not open. It doesn’t make a big difference in terms of natural light in the bathroom, either. The skylight, in its plaster nest, is surrounded by a bunch of cracks that makes me worry that one of these days, the glass will come crashing down on the floor while I’m pinching a loaf.

So what does this skylight do, you ask (beyond adding an element of fear and suspense to the bathroom experience)? In the summer, it makes the bathroom unbearably hot. The 15 minutes it takes to squeeze one out is all but intolerable as the heat in that small 5’x5′ room makes you feel as if you’re being interrogated at police headquarters for ingesting too much fiber.

Due to my boyfriend’s daily intake of prune juice (“because a clean colon is a happy colon”) and my own fiber-rich diet, we both spend about 15 minutes at a clip in the john.

To combat the problems posed by the skylight in the summertime, my boyfriend and I have come up with a solution: When the time comes to “go,” we put a floor fan in the crapper. It’s not very high tech, but we snake an extension cord underneath the bathroom door and have a two-foot high electric fan sitting on the floor going full blast while each of us do our bathroom business. It takes some getting used to the sensation of a stiff wind aimed directly at your crotch, but it beats the alternative of dropping dead from heat exhaustion and dying on the toilet a la Elvis.

Now for a real First World Problem: While there’s room for a floor fan, sadly, there isn’t room for a magazine rack. Most of our reading material is piled high on top of the toilet tank. I’m a firm believer in having something to read while you’re releasing chocolate hostages.

Look at the Crap-manship!

It’s not just the foundation of the bathroom that is suspect, it’s the fixtures in it, as well.

I’ve glued the door on this beast back together at least three times in eight years. What crap-smanship!

Several years ago, two “plumbers” came in to replace the sink. They started at 10am and ended up leaving shortly before 8pm. Not only did they take a two-hour lunch break and no less than five smoke breaks a piece, but one of these “plumbers” said he had to leave immediately to get his “medicine” from a place that closes at 3pm or else he would get “very sick.” I don’t know too many pharmacies that close at 3pm on a weekday, so my guess was that Captain Shakes had to stop by the local methadone clinic before he finished installing the sink.

Suffice to say, the sink that they replaced the old one with wasn’t exactly the finest quality. They probably took the money our landlady had given them, picked up the cheapest one they could find at Home Depot and spent what was left over on tacos, meth, and a carton of Marlboros.

In the barely eight years we’ve had this sink, the particle board door that shields the pipes from view and serves as a mini toiletry closet beneath the sink has fallen apart several times. There’s nothing like opening the door to grab some Q-Tips only to have everything but the hinges fall off in your hand. I’ve jigsawed it back together on each occasion using Super Glue and you would never know that the piece of shit has disintegrated at least three times in eight years.

It’s not just the door on the sink that’s shoddy. Oh, no! The “Hot” and “Cold” markers on top of each of the water levers popped out of the handles. Even better, the drain stopper that prevents small items (like one of the “Hot” and “Cold” markers that popped out or the toothpaste tube cap) from spiraling down the drain broke off. I had to jam the top part of the stopper in the sink to act as some sort of a barrier against any small items irretrievably finding their way down the drain. It no longer moves up or down. It just stays stationary. Awesome. For a sink that is less than eight years old, this shouldn’t happen.

About 7 years ago, the toilet was replaced. Having learned her lesson, the landlady hired a professional to come in and do the job instead of the freaks that someone had recommended to install the sink.

The Magical Mildew Tour / You Cannot Scrub It Away

Fuck you, mildew! I give up. You just come back a day later anyway.

Then there’s the shower itself. Technically, it’s a shower/bath. However, it’s impossible to use the tub to take a bath because the stopper lever on the wall of the tub that plugs the drain keeps pulling away from the wall. If you try to take a bath, a lot of the water seeps into that hole and only allows half the water to remain in the tub, covering you at mid-chest level instead of up to your neck. Several rounds of caulk still weren’t able to remedy the situation so bubble baths are off the menu. It’s strictly a shower-only bathroom.

Not only is the tub resistant to caulking, but the shower tiles seem to be immune to a thorough cleansing, as well. Despite unleashing an entire battalion of Scrubbing Bubbles that would have made the 300 Spartan warriors proud, even their most valiant efforts only kept mildew at bay for a day or so. Even after applying some cosmetic grout to the tiles, it was less than a week before the brown mildew stains came back. In our bathroom’s defense, I hear this “phantom mildew” is pretty common among DIY grouting.

Nevertheless, I’d bet that even if you completely removed and re-grouted the bathroom tile, that shit would probably come back like some weird, creeping death out of a Night Gallery episode by the end of the week.

After my boyfriend and I tried re-grouting twice, finally, we said “fuck it” and gave up on prettying up the bathroom.

Make It Work: Disastrous Decor

As if the functionality of the bathroom wasn’t bad enough, the pre-existing decor and color scheme provided us with limited options. Remember when I said that the plaster walls were covered with wallpaper? I neglected to mention just how hideous this wallpaper happens to be. Fortunately, the brown mildew stains in the tile grout go nicely with the strange shade of salmon-y pink tile on the walls, offset by a border made of maroon tiles.

Mr. Furley’s reaction to my bathroom’s wallpaper… And then he realized he was wearing it.

Nothing, however, goes with the wallpaper. The untiled portion of the walls are festooned with a psychadelic version of bright orange, yellow, pink, and blue ditsy floral print. It looks like someone raided Mr. Furley’s closet (the loveable landlord on Three’s Company portrayed by Don Knotts) and plastered a collection of his shirts on the wall. I’m surprised my bathroom didn’t come with a neckerchief and some gold-plated medallions to hang from the walls.

When your bathroom is just that fugly to begin with, it’s hard to make it any uglier. That’s why I decided to go balls-out tacky with the decor. Picking up the blue in the floral wallpaper, I decided to get a dark blue aquarium-themed shower curtain. I also picked up a dark blue bath mat and toilet mat. (The excess heat from the skylight all but destroyed the rubberized backing on the dark blue bath mat, making it stick to the floor. They’ve been subsequently replaced with mats in a less heat-attracting shade of powder blue.) I figured blue would be the best option for the shower curtain and area rugs because any more weird salmon/pink hues– especially with the maroon border — would make the bathroom look like a giant vagina. I don’t want to confuse the “shower curtain” with a set of “beef curtains.” And I certainly wouldn’t want to be reminded of my annual pap smear while I’m on the commode, pondering just how like my gyno’s speculum that bathroom skylight is. No thanks!)

I wish it played “Islands In the Stream” when you lift the lid.

Upon my boyfriend’s insistence and to ward off the dreaded “Red Ring” from sitting on the pot for too long, we’ve gone through several padded toilet seats through the years. We used to have a toilet seat whose printed cover matched the dark blue-and-orange aquatic theme of the shower curtain. When that seat got a rip in it, it was replaced with perhaps the kitschiest toilet seat cover I have yet to find. In glaring opposition to the rest of the bathroom decor sits a pale green toilet seat cover with a bright green, brown, and orange palm tree stitched on it.

That’s right. STITCHED.

The only possible way this toilet seat cover could be any better is if when you lifted the lid, it played “Islands In the Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. (Seriously. That would be pretty damn awesome.) One of the few things I like about my bathroom is this toilet seat.

That about concludes the tour of my bathroom. Nothing exciting, but hopefully, it makes you feel better about your own indoor outhouse. And if it doesn’t, I dare you to step forward with how awful your own bathroom is so I can feel better about mine!

  • Mary Beth
    September 27, 2011

    You are amazing! Your writing never gets old.
    I love you! thanks for making me laugh

  • Chowder
    February 24, 2013

    O my F-N-G!! Love it all!! I am splitting my gut, and appreciate your bold sincerity.

    I love it so much I want to post on my Blog “As Is” and link .. pingback.

    You rock!!

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