Facing unknown behind the drawers and beneath the sink in bathroom [Column]

Purging the drawers, cubbies, shelves, under-sink storage, and medicine chest in the bathroom is a dreadful job, one that must be done at regular intervals. That's every 17 years, in my opinion.

I prefer to do it myself, rather than to let Doug try. He can't tell the difference between the leg-shavers that slice my shins to shreds and the ones that don't, which can lead to surprises in the shower that resemble the murder scene from "Psycho."

Our bathroom contains the usual complement of shampoos, conditioners, body wash, toothpaste, mouthwash, various unguents, salves and gels; and a collection of tweezers, cuticle scissors, hair dryers, toenail clippers, nose- and ear-hair trimmers, and make-up applicators — and that's just the stuff on the countertop.

The burial chambers, I mean the cupboards and drawers, hold a staggering accumulation of the somewhat necessary, the totally unnecessary, and mystery items.

It's nerve-racking to face the horrors of the Bathroom Wax Museum, where beauty paraphernalia goes to die. Luckily, there's a calming pill for that: They're on the second shelf of the medicine chest in an old Sucrets tin behind the Vick's Vap-o-Rub on top of an Ace bandage next to a small plastic box holding my retainer from eighth grade. I'm reasonably sure they haven't expired.

Last week, I decided to at least downsize the number of plastic bottles, tubs and tubes in the bathroom before they could crowd me out of the shower stall. So I girded my loins, said a prayer, made sure my life insurance was paid up, and put on hazmat work gloves.

"I'm goin' in," I announced, at which point Doug suddenly remembered something important requiring his immediate attention in the garage.

"I won't hear you if you holler," he warned, as the door closed behind him, which made me wish I had one of those "I've fallen and I can't get up" gadgets.

I started on the vanity drawers. Immediately, I found a brand-new box of Band-Aids, and I'd just purchased some the day before, certain we were out of them. I uncovered six partially used tubes of lip balm covered in hair and fuzz, and two so old they'd fossilized; three facial masques (one mud, one green tea, and one ominously concocted from Dead Sea minerals); the hairbrush I lost back in '09; and an empty bottle of nasal decongestant spray.

Also unearthed: a plethora of hair-styling products, none of which I ever actually tried, but which were highly recommended by the girl who cuts my hair and gets commissions on salon products. Plus: an empty eye-drop container; another new box of Band-Aids; a squished tube of antibiotic ointment and another, slightly less squished, of cortisone cream, both with 2006 expiration dates.

A half-full package of emery boards that chew my nails up; another new box of Band-Aids, and the detangling comb that came free with a bottle of cream rinse when I was 12.

Under the sink — a dark place fraught with terror — were three bottles of expired sunscreen, scented talc, foot powder, and enough pastel shower poofs to supply the entire Baltimore Ravens cheerleading squad for six months. Additionally: pore purifier strips, age-spot removers (ha!), nine bottles of hardened nail polish, and more Band-Aids.

Oh, and one partially used package of blades for Doug's razor.

The bathroom is neat and tidy now, inside and outside of the storage spaces. Unfortunately, I'll just have to turn around do it all again … in another 17 years.

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