Donde El Rey Va SoloFriday, May 15, 2009
One of my earliest memories as a child is the bathroom. It was a large bathroom in our Buenos Aires house on Melián Street. It was a very old house shaped like an L. The short part of the L connected to the main house (living room, dining room and my parent’s bedroom began with our kitchen and beyond it was the bathroom. Since the kitchen with it old black gas stove was the warmest room in the winter I can see why the bathroom would be right next to it. It had a bidet. I did not have any idea of its purpose except at least twice I played with it and a very high pressure jet of water hit the ceiling and destroyed the plaster. I have no memory of the toilet or ever sitting on it. It could have something to do with the fact that children in school and as late as a conscript in the Argentine navy I was called Watercló. The English had left their mark in Argentina with their futbol, their tramways, trains and waterclosets. In an attempt at independent sophistication Argentines had their very English tea at Frenchified Salons de Thé.
I remember being in the tub and watching my mother using an eyecup. It was a strange sort of semicircular glass device with which she cleansed or rinsed her eyes. She would look down into the device and then throw her head back. I was convinced that my mother could pop her eyeball in the cup and wash it all around.
I may have been around 8 when I began to read Pato Donald comics in the tub and discovered the only two really good places to read which is the tub and one’s bed. The toilet should never be used for reading pleasure. It is best used to rid oneself of constipation by sitting down with something very difficult to read. The distraction and concentration of reading loosens up the works.
The tub or the shower is a godsend for the gardener particular this one. I never use gloves. After a few hours of digging and putting my hands in dirt or mixing the manure with compost, my finger nails get filthy. This is when washing one’s hair is most useful. I have several good nail brushes, including a fine nylon one from Lee Valley Tools but none of them work as well in cleaning under my fingernails as washing my hair vigorously with a shampoo.
It was my Manila-born uncle, Don Luís Miranda who always seemed to have more fun than anyone else in the bathroom. He liked to work on the New York Times crossword puzzle “en donde el rey va solo” (where the king goes alone) and he was a legend in our family for singing Gilbert & Sullivan or Puccini while showering. He sang complete arias while showering. He was thorough in his bathing procedure. This was the man who had once told me that he hated going to the beach because sand got into his shoes.
He would have been shocked to find out that I have a fondness for cold breakfast pizza in the tub. As summer approaches I know there will be some special afternoons where the sun will be just right and fracture light as it goes through our glass bathroom door knob. Rosemary prohibited me from hanging towels (especially wet ones) behind the bathroom door as in the picture here. She says that the nice white paint will peel. Luckily I took this picture. I had filed it away and discovered it yesterday. That’s Mark Budgen’s friend Aja (pronounced Asia) in Mark Budgen’s tub. I may have taken that picture about 15 years ago.