I was not the first person on my block to get a VCR, cable television, an Atari video game system or a microwave oven. I did not have any designer clothes that didn’t come out of someone else’s closet first. I was only given one bike (which I was expected to take care of) and my parents did not buy a new car every other year. However there was one item in our home that equated us with those ultra elite, uber eccentric families that appeared on those horrible 1980s prime time soap operas:
We had a phone in the bathroom.
Over the years my parents talked a good game about the significant improvements that they were going to make to the lavatory facilities “someday.” I distinctly remember hearing whispers of a fairly solid plan to multiply the room (at least by half) in a corner of the basement. There was talk of building a shower at some point, replacing the vanity, etc. but the only things that ever really changed in there when I was growing up was the color of the towels, the cushiony seat cover and the washers when Dad switched them out every couple of months.
So WHY was the first big upgrade the addition of a telecommunications department? Beats me but if you’ve been reading my columns for a while, then you know that my parents were a little…unique.
Truth be told, neither one of them woke up one morning and said, “Hey, here’s what’s missing in our lives, a phone in the bathroom.” It was something that was tabled and voted on quickly over a bin of cheap, white plastic phones at the local Central Hardware store. It was a $7.99 impulse decision that led to a lot of unique reactions from anyone who ever visited and had to use the room for personal business.
“You have a phone in your bathroom,” guests would say as though we might not have heard the news yet.
My mother was always tactful with her response, but just once I wanted her to completely freak out, accuse them of putting it there and demand to see the evidence. It was a phone for heaven’s sake. What was the big deal?
Personally, I loved having a phone in any room that could lock and I spent so much time gabbing in there that I thought my mother was going to haul me off to the doctor in search of a GI infection. However, in due time cordless phones became all the rage eliminating the need for a bathroom phone and when the original model died, my parents didn’t bother replacing it.
But even devoid of the phone, the jack alone could be a great conversation starter. After my mom’s death, I had to give the full scoop to the Realtor showing the place and more often than not, it was the one thing that everyone commented on at showings.
“Excuse me ma’am?” a woman asked me during the open house. “There’s a phone jack in your bathroom.”
“Really?” I said with a wicked grin. “That’s strange…it wasn’t there last night.”