Toilet Needs a New Home

I posted this ad on Craigslist a few years ago. A friend of mine asked me to repost it on the blog, so here it is:

It is time that Toilet parted ways with our family. It has been in this house for longer than we’ve been here. When we arrived, the home inspector informed us that this toilet was “top of the line” in Europe and ordered by all the best home designers in the US. “Pozzi Gnorri,” he said. “Go look them up on the internet. They’re one of the best companies in the world for bathroom fixtures.” So I did and was duly impressed. However, I had to wonder what a toilet of this caliber was doing in my little bungalow in Portland. But hey, some of us get riches to rags instead of the other way around, so who was I to question things or to remind Toilet of its brilliant beginnings? I could make Toilet sad thinking that way.

Toilet was lovely; a deep, thoughtful blue, with a white lid. And the flusher was in its top! My 8 year old loved that. Look Mom, you pull this button on top rather than pushing down on a handle! Fancy!

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I had rats. I suppose that statement is somewhat nebulous. Did I have rats in my hair? Did I have them as pets?  Were they running rampant through my house? Actually, two of these three statements are accurate, and if I hadn’t taken action when I did, likely the third could have been true as well.  I have had pet rats, and I’ve also had them running rampant through my house. It is the latter to which I refer. Rats infested my little bungalow, the one I restored in a SE suburb of Portland. I didn’t want to kill them. I started out using sticky paper to catch them and then I would take them to a park or somewhere else to release them. This was quite distressing. They would be so stuck to the paper and it would cause all sorts of physical stress reactions in the little things, and I could hardly bear it. I would cry as I used a stick or some other means to try and extricate them from the glue, whispering I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, over and over to them, pieces of their skin and fur left behind. I also tried live rat catching cages, but not one rat was caught.

Eventually the infestation became too great for humanitarian aid. My brother was staying with me at the time, as well as his girlfriend, and the combination of the two was more bait than any rat could resist. They were horrible housekeepers, which made them less than desirable house guests. The girlfriend especially. At one point during their sojourn, I found it necessary to clean up after them. The discoveries I made in the girlfriend’s belongings were enough to turn one’s stomach. Derek’s stuff, not so much. His stuff was just disorganized, but there wasn’t anything of organic nature in it. But girlfriend had bags full of clothes and at the bottom of bags were all manner of disgusting and rotten foodstuffs, as well as crusty-crotched underwear, and used menstrual pads. I could hardly manage. I’m on the clean end of the spectrum. I don’t like ghastly aged human excretions and rotten food being left in my home. Worst of all, the rats had burrowed into the bottoms of these bags and made nests filled with tiny torn up underwear crotches and pajamas.

As you can well imagine, the rats had a field day with this. They were mating and spawning like crazy. No sooner would I escort 6 teenage rats to the park than 20 more would appear, gorging on dog food, running across the basement stairs when the door opened, or tunneling through girlfriend’s sacks of nastiness. They also chewed cords and walls and were pretty destructive.

I finally realized that I was, unfortunately, going to have to cause some untimely rat deaths. I did not relish the thought.  Having been a rat owner for many years, I loved them. They are smart and cute and furry and all the things lots of people don’t think they are. Who cares if they have skin covered tails? Is a rabbit any different except that it has a fluffy tail? Not really.

I decided against traps. I could not bear squishing them. However, murderous bait was not much more appealing. They would suffer. Yet disposing of whole bodies were more palatable than getting rid of mutilated ones.

And so it began. I put out bait in big plastic things. Within days, I discovered slow moving creatures attempting to escape and find water. I would remove them to the farthest corner of the yard to die. This was horrible, but my cat and I could not keep up with their endless breeding and destruction.  Eventually my brother and the girlfriend left and I was also rat free. I cleaned the basement room thoroughly and made repairs where necessary. Life moved on and I forgot about the entire sordid affair.

So why did I bring this up now, six years later? Because I have a little safe in which I store a backup hard drive for my computer, and necessary papers like passports and birth certificates. Every now and again I have to get into the little safe for whatever reason, most often to back up the computer. This little safe was stored in the basement where my brother and the rats cohabited. One other problem I experienced with the rats is that they peed on things. They mostly peed on Sarah’s clothes (Sarah was Derek’s girlfriend), but they also peed on that safe. I’ve sprayed and scrubbed it and tried to rid it of that scent, to no avail. It is there. It smells. Every single time I open the safe for whatever reason, there is the smell, musky and stinky. It’s like cat pee; it never goes away. It has faded, but I doubt it will ever be gone. For as long as I own and use this safe, I expect I’ll have a little bit of rat urine in my life. I guess I can live with that.

The Unclean

Things are not clean.  Even though soap and water have been applied, objects remain clogged with grease and protein, bacteria and mire.

Grease beads on a pan, coats a plate, overlaying knives and spoons.  Grease does not like soap.  Add soap and grease goes away, but with too little soap or soaks in water full of oiliness the grease hovers and swims.  Grease prefers cold water to warm.  The hotter the water, the less likely grease will remain.

Starch is another skin.  It adheres carefully and craftily, defying efforts at its removal.  It cannot be seen in the water.  Water must be removed or scrubs must be soapy and vigilant in order to ensure it moves on to pipes.  Left to its own devices, it curls and dries, affixed with tenacity.

The backs of implements used to eat and to prepare sustenance (plates and bowls, pans, glasses and cups) all need cleansing on their backs and under their bottoms.  Material hides there, ignored by those who do not consider its existence.

Toilets with urine that is not flushed begin to smell acrid and pungent.

If a toothbrush is electric and removed from the mouth before it ceases rotation, it leaves small bits of bacteria and spit on all surfaces in its vicinity.  Others who come into contact with these substances may share.

Why remove items from the floor when it is more simple to walk across them than to place them elsewhere?

Used toilet tissue does not replace itself.