March 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
I feel like I can learn a lot about a person by visiting his or her bathroom. I don’t mean that I pay attention to whether or not the person opted for the good toilet paper, or the person’s teeth brushing technique based on the amount of toothpaste spittle on the mirror, or even the general cleanliness of the bathroom. No, I mean the bathroom reading.
In the bathroom I shared with my new-age, incredibly artistic industrial engineer roommate, Andrea, who would frequently bemoan about having to give up her soul to work for the machine to make money to fund her art, she filled our bathroom with Popular Science magazines and World on Fire by Amy Chua, back before the rest of the world knew her as “Tiger Mom”. Cheng-yee always kept several volumes of Get Fuzzy comics in her bathroom, which I thought were incredibly fitting and telling of her personality and her sense of humor since she loved Bucky’s sardonic humor and and Satchel’s sweetness. Of all my friends, she’s actually the sweetest and most kind, which I thought was interesting considering her cynical sense of humor. She’s the Singaporean girl outcome of Bucky and Satchel being shoved into one body. My cleanest and most practical roommate, Diana, would keep her bathroom extremely neat and clean but offered nothing to read, because it was just a bathroom. She preferred to read her fashion magazines at the dinner table. Unfortunately for Diana, she had Andrea, Cheng-yee, Momo, and I as roommates, and we made her life a mess, at least physically. In our living room, we had one coffee table, one floor lamp, and one tv stand with a 12-inch tv that was so old that it came with a built-in VHS player; the room was pretty barren. Yet we managed to completely make a mess with all our shoes, school books, used water bottles for recycling, empty pizza boxes, and anything that happened to spill on the floor that wasn’t liquid.
Now, in my shared bathroom with Wayne, the bathroom readers are the occasional Car and Driver magazine and a tattered– the edges of the spine are white, the pages are yellowing, and the covers’ edges are peeling–paperback copy of Ray Romano’s Everything and a Kite. I first read it when I picked it out of the biography section of my neighborhood library when I had to do a biography project for school in 9th grade. Unfortunately, it had been mis-shelved, and I had to pick a different book, one that actually was a biography– interestingly I ended up reading Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone, and this was before I loved food as much I do now and before she became one of my favorite food people, right up there with Ina Garten. I love her Tender at the Bone far too much to subject it to the daily bouts of high humidity and occasional weird smells of our bathroom. It isn’t that I don’t love Everything and a Kite that I subject it to such harsh conditions; it’s more the fact that the book has been with me since freshman year of college when I found it again in a bookstore, and it has lived through several moves and several bathrooms.
My favorite writers are Zadie Smith, Haruki Murakami, and David Sedaris. I love reading their writings when I wake up four hours too early on a lazy Sunday or when I spend hours in a bookstores curled up with my knees to my chin in a chair. But for our bathroom, I prefer to keep to Everything and a Kite because it’s the literary (erm, am I really going to use the word “literary” here? It feels morally wrong and kind of cheapens the word) equivalent of really comfortable, worn sweatpants. I really love Ray Romano’s sense of humor in the book even though I wasn’t a fan of his show because all the fighting and yelling became tiresome. I remember standing in the library, reading through the first couple of pages, and I knew this book was aligned with my sense of humor when I read this passage on the third page:
“I think writers put all that stuff up front because they’re afraid to have you dive in too fast. They want to let you “tiptoe” into the book, like it’s a cold swimming pool. Get your feet wet in the Intro, splash a little Foreword on your chest. That way, by Chapter One you’re warm and comfortable, and if no one’s around, you pee in it.”
What my bathroom reader ultimately says about my personality, as my former roommates came to regret, is that if I become comfortable with a person, I’ll end up bringing up TMI topics as casually as if I were chatting about the weather because nothing is TMI for me. The topics aren’t so much TMI because they’re raunchy or offensive, but more so: God, why does anyone need to know that? Everything and a Kite isn’t raunchy nor does it really dive over the TMI line, but Ray Romano talks about the humor in his life and it’s such comfortable, funny read, and I like being comfortable, even while running errands in my fuzzy Paul Frank monkey pants.