The bathroom is a naked place. It is where we are at our most vulnerable – where we judge ourselves, examine our eyes in the silver glass, and stick out our tongue in search of the green spots. It is where we battle black cavities of secrets and hide bottles of tiny white escape. We find our checkered past staring back at us from the mold in the corner, patterned into the floor.
But in this same space we cleanse ourselves – we “make” – we think our deepest thoughts with our pants around our ankles – we pluck, comb, scrub, clip, snip, and shave. We polish and brush and groom ourselves into a high sheen. In that sacred space framed in tile, we sword-in-hand face our demons like Michael, we dream up our theses like Luther, we become Harry Belefonte with a hairbrush.
The set is coming together: tub, toilet, vanity sink, and tile wall are framing out the next few weeks of our lives. I find myself some time before rehearsals to creep over to the clawfoot tub and settle in. I take notes and soak-in the room until I become raisin-skinned. I lift myself from the cast-iron cradle. I check and double-check the eyes of the stranger in the mirror, playing out these eight plays as if compulsively washing my hands. I remind myself that we laugh at our own flatus – that we’d be fools not to – and relax a little.
The cast flits through the door, washes over the stage. Like water, each play finds its own level. Like in-laws, the players settle into the seat with crossword puzzle scripts.
I take in David’s direction and watch for reactions: it is like finding a man filing his toenails with his teeth – acrobatic, full of surprise and skill and experience. I eavesdrop on Brandi and her cast: it is graceful and thoughtful – the hum of a beautiful woman as she powders and pencils herself, a hint of fragrance from the next room.
I wonder what surprises will come from my own direction: if I will try to fuse my soap-sliver-notes to make a whole bar, or else forget to buy more toilet paper.
At this point, I am glad that chamber pots are a thing of the past.
-Matthew S. Hinton