Apparently, there is big prestige that goes with being number one at going number two.
I was reading a real estate ad the other day, for a house that boasted nine bathrooms. Nine. Unless you have the St. Louis Cardinals subletting your basement, why in the world do you need nine bathrooms?
Don't get me wrong here, I like to do my business as much as the next guy. (Or whatever euphemism you prefer for the job: "updating the captain's log," "checking the plumbing," "having a meeting in the executive office," "powdering one's nose," in England, "spending a penny," or as a friend of mine always says, "taking the Browns to the Super Bowl."
A guy can only use one throne at a time, though.
Nine bathrooms. That's not a house, that's a hotel.
Nine bottles of that super porcelain bowl cleaner stuff to buy. Nine toilet paper spindles to check before every guest arrives. Nine times to try to figure out if the TP should unroll from the top or bottom. Nine doors for the cat to stratch, because the second you are using the bathroom, you become the best friend it can't live without for two minutes.
How many towels do you have to buy to fully outfit nine bathrooms? How many outdoor magazine subscriptions would I have to have?
There were weekday mornings with two growing children that I may have felt like I needed nine bathrooms, but let's face it - no one does.
Not so long ago, everybody had one bathroom, big house or small. No heated toilet seats or jacuzzi jet tubs. No ambient lighting to make you feel better about yourself. If your sister got to the shower before you, no hot water either.
A friend of mine is researching a "tiny home" project - one of those super efficiency little abodes that provide all you need in a couple of hundred square feet, one tiny bathroom included.
The movement clearly isn't for everyone. I'm not a tiny person, and I think it could be a little claustrophobic. My son manages to live just fine in a dorm room the size of a walk-in closet, though, and I've know people who have lived for long periods in a sailboat cabin or travel van barely big enough to stretch out in.
The message that makes a tiny movement attractive is clear.
Many of us have more than we need, maybe more than we even can use. Most of us probably live 90% of our home time in two rooms, three max. I have rooms I never really use - they just collect clutter and get dusty. How many of us have multiple TV sets, more than we really can watch, some the size of Buicks because that was the status symbol of the moment. Or the super refrigerator with 100 features, 99 of which are not really about keeping food cold? I see one advertised now with three cameras inside that sync to your cell phone so you can view it from the grocery store to find out what you need. You have wood-grain fridges that blend in with your cabinets, or retro ones that would match a 1957 marina blue Chevy Bel-Air. Sofas have built-in iPod/iPhone docks and speakers, coolers and massagers. How have we lived without all this?
William Morris famously said, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
No matter how much space we have, we will manage to accumulate junk to fill it, to the point where we still don't have room to move or breathe. Things to rearrange and clean and fix and worry about being stolen. At least half the stuff I own I would never miss if it were gone.
Clothes you never wear, but can't get rid of because they would still kinda fit. Gizmos that hopelessly went out of style the moment you got them, or you can't find the cord or charger to make work. Books you'll never read, music on formats you'll never use, plants that are mostly dead but still have one green leaf. Boxes of loose pictures of people you can't positively identify. Who has a house that doesn't contain a broken-down exercise bike used to pile equally worthless old clothes on? Sadly, not mine.
I have whole drawers full of non-operational flashlights, and cabinets full or rusty muffin pans. Mugs full of ink pens that don't work. 1980s fish tanks. Eighteen snow shovels and a dozen cameras from the film age.
I'm not suggesting that you demolish your multiple bathrooms, trade your suburban split-level for a glorified horse trailer, or give away all your belongings and live like David Caradine in Kung Fu, but I'm beginning to think there may be something to this concept of simplification.