How do You Use a Toilet Brush?
I was asked this in earnest and I will describe to you the circumstances.
As you know, I rent rooms.
Toilets in Buenos Aires, though often accompanied by a bidet (not in the case of my apartment) can be on the weird side. I lived in a place where there was a little shelf built inside. You pooped onto the shelf and when you flushed, the waste was whisked down the hole in front.
There is an element of quality control that’s missing in certain models, like mine. Each time anyone drops a load, something about the shape of the toilet causes a smear of shit to be left behind, stuck to the bowl, one that a second flush is woefully inadequate to remove.
I suppose not everyone has the same strong aversion to fecal matter that I have. Some people accept it as a fact of life, and let the shits fall where they may, smears and all.
I had two short-term tenants move in around the same time, both straight guys. During the course of a single day, I found myself confronted by shit-smear-toilet on no less than three occasions when all I wanted was to take a piss. In each instance, I used the conveniently placed toilet brush to clean it up, but when I awoke the next day to find another long smear of shit to greet me for my morning pee, I just had to do something.
I wrote a note. It was fit for passiveaggressivenotes.com. I admit it. It listed a short litany of things I found tolerable, such as having to buy all the toilet paper or sweep up in the kitchen, but laid out that in point of fact I would not be cleaning any shit smears that were not a direct byproduct of the fruit of my own intestines and suggesting the offender(s) please use the brush provided to clean up their own shit.
One of the guys stopped me later that day. He told me that he had had a roommate in the past who left notes and it had been a real problem for him and told me that he was the leaver of shit smears and that if I had a problem with anything in the future that I please take it to him in person.
I ask you: What kind of exercise in humiliation would it be to knock on each individual roommate’s door and ask, “Excuse me, but did you happen to just take a shit?” I told him that I would as often as I were able.
I found this whole process disheartening and distasteful. From cleaning up his shit, to talking to him about cleaning up his shit, and finding out that it was indeed his shit that I’d been cleaning up, I was very uncomfortable.
Now fast forward about a month into the future.
At certain times I had noticed that the cup the toilet brush was kept in had brownish water about a cm deep inside it. I had noticed that the white bristles weren’t exactly white. But on one particular day as I, in flip flops with bare legs, went to pull the brush out of its cup (and yes, at this point I should have known better to yank it out so cavalierly), my legs and feet and the floor and toilet were all sprayed with a mist of shitty water. Talk about eau de toilette.
There were chunks of toilet paper in the brush along with well ground in shit, like someone had tried to clean a melted chocolate Easter bunny from the dashboard with the brush and then just left it there.
I was furious. I had to take a minute to breathe. I couldn’t help but to see this as a deliberate fuck you. A literal, “I shit on your stupid toilet and your stupid toilet brush.”
There was nothing to be done about it. I said I wouldn’t leave a note, and this time I was aware of which individual in the house was less inclined to be disgusted by an item caked with his own fecal matter. Now I knew I must simply organize my thoughts, try to approach him with humor and ask: Do you know how to use a toilet brush?
The following is an approximation of the ensuing dialogue.
Me: Hey. I was just sprayed with shit water from the cup the toilet brush is kept in. Do you know how to use a toilet brush? (So you know, I was smiling and trying to make a joke out of this. I’m not sure how to do this properly. I guess I’ll have to ask Miss Manners.)
Him: Oh, really? How do you use a toilet brush? (Also amused, apparently and completely unashamed)
Me: Well, yeah, You have to flush the toilet first.
Him: Oh. I was just flushing the toilet once.
Me: Well that’s how the brush becomes caked with shit. So if you flush it first and then brush it, it works better. Then after that, if the brush is dirty, you can flush it again and kind of rinse it out. You know?
Him: Oh. OK. I guess that makes sense.
That, my friends, is the kind of thing you should expect when you are living with strangers.