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Just be happy that the seat is down and spare us prayers, plants, potourri


THE SISSIFYING OF the American bathroom hit home recently, with the alarming pronouncement from my wife that she'll be "redecorating" our bathrooms.

Here is my general feeling on the bathroom: As long as it has a toilet and a sink, it's decorated just fine.

Unfortunately, this sort of enlightened thinking runs counter to the prevailing trend in this country, which is to clutter the bathroom with so much decorative garbage that there's hardly room to do whatever it is you have to do.

Me, I don't want to see any knickknacks when I step in a bathroom.

I don't want to see any smiling ceramic frogs or dainty porcelain swans perched on the sink. I don't want to see any copper mermaids or dried flowers.

Look, this isn't a curio shop in Soho. I'm not here to browse, OK?

Here's another thing: I don't want to see any clamshell dishes with those little soap balls.

Have you ever actually tried to wash your hands with those little soap balls?

No, of course not. No one washes their hands with those things. If you tried washing your hands with those things, the owner of the bathroom would probably kick the door in and scream: "What the hell are you doing?! Those are for decoration!"

While we're on the subject, I don't want to see any of those wussy liquid soap dispensers, either.

What I want to see is a good, old-fashioned bar of soap, Ivory or Dial or some other all-American soap made in Hong Kong.

(In the interest of full disclosure, there is a soap dispenser in the upstairs bathroom of my house. What makes the whole thing even more disturbing is that the soap dispenser is shaped like a teddy bear's head. Sometimes when I'm washing up late at night, I stare at the mirror and think: "Here I am, 43 years old, not much to look at, bad knees, career pretty much stalled. And now I'm squeezing soap from a teddy bear's head . . .")

One more thing: I don't want to see any little fingertip towels in the bathroom, either.

You know the towels I'm talking about, the ones that look like they're for the Keebler Elves.

What exactly is the point of these towels?

Look, I don't want to just dry my fingertips, OK? I know this sounds pretty radical, but I'm one of those crazy people who likes to dry his whole hand. Then I like to dry my other whole hand.

Therefore, I would appreciate an adult-sized towel. Don't make me sneak into your bedroom and dry my hands on your bedspread. Because I will do it.

Now this next one is important: I don't want any potpourri in the bathroom, OK?

The bathroom can be a stressful enough place without having to breathe in the aroma of orange slices or cinnamon or amaretto.

Look, it's a bathroom, OK? It's not supposed to smell like Betty Crocker's kitchen.

OK, fine, you don't want it to smell like the Green Bay Packers have been drying their gear in there, either. Maybe something along the lines of one of those pine tree air fresheners would help.

Here's another one: I don't want to walk in a bathroom and see any inspirational sayings on the walls.

See, I don't go to the bathroom to be inspired. And I think most people feel this way.

I don't know of anyone who thinks: "Y'know, I'm feeling a little down. Lemme hit the bathroom and read some Leo Buscaglia."

I'm not in there to get fired up by the wisdom of Vince Lombardi or Gen. George S. Patton, either.

On a related subject, I also don't want to see any prayers hanging from the bathroom walls.

I don't go to the bathroom to pray, OK? And I don't know anyone else who does.

Maybe you noticed that on the pope's recent visit here, he pretty much confined his praying to churches and cathedrals and outdoor masses in large venues.

He didn't say: "Hey, I'll meet you guys in the bathroom and we'll say a few 'Hail Mary's.' "

There should be a limit on the number of paintings you can hang in a bathroom, too. It isn't an art museum. To me, anything more than one print of those poker-playing dogs is definitely overkill.

Finally, I don't want to see any plants in the bathroom. Especially hanging plants right over the toilet, which seems to be the rage.

Without getting too graphic here, let me say that for a guy, there is nothing more disconcerting than, um, standing there and having some out-of-control philodendron brushing against your face.

You women have to trust me on this.

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