>Before we all left for the Zoo, Jeffery Jerome Cohen posted a “good luck” message that also said, “May you never meet the mystery person with whom you share the bathroom in your dorm.” One year I did meet the people with whom I was sharing — two 20-something publisher’s reps — and it was the best K’zoo bathroom experience ever. After they left their bathroom door open, but had vacated the bathroom itself, it seems, I ventured in through my side and called out. They came in and I asked if I could use the sink or whatever — it was something that allowed for simultaneously bathroom usage — and we all got to chatting, just like in a dorm. See folks, that’s how you use a communal bathroom — communally. In fact, in those bathrooms, someone could be on the toilet, two people could be at the sinks, and one person could be in the shower. That’s how it worked in college, and those of us young enough to remember — or not so privileged that we went to colleges with private “rooms” — have no problem with this.
On the other hand, there’s the suitemate Ancrene Wiseass and I got stuck with this year. She scolded us. But in true K’zoo dorm bathroom weird, passive-agressive form, she did so by note. At the time AW and I were really pissed off by it and it seemed dripping with nasty condescension, but I saved the note for posterity and now it seems pretty darn polite (lots of “I’m sorry” and “please” and smiley faces), if rather cowardly, what with being a note and all.
Anyway, our suitemate was apparently kept awake the first night by the conversation taking place on our side of the wall until the wee hours. AW and I got in kind of late, still had some catching up to do, and, most important, AW had to edit her paper down to a reasonable size for the next morning, and I was helping her. It’s not like we were partying or anything. But we both do have voices that carry — I just didn’t realize how much voices carry through those walls (is anyone else humming ‘Til Tuesday now?). So apparently our suitemate couldn’t sleep and it was making her ill, and so the next day she bought earplugs and wrote us a note. My question: why didn’t she just knock on our door and ask us to keep it down instead of suffering in silence?*
Ah yes, because of the weird, wasp-y K’zoo bathroom “etiquette” of never encountering or addressing your suitemate(s) directly, but only communicating through wordless signs of doors and light switches — unless, of course, you’re a newbie and a pair of publisher’s reps. Then you’ll have a grand ol’ time and no one will ever have to wait for someone else to relinquish the bathroom.
Seriously, folks, we’re the new generation — can we change this silliness and use the dorms like dorms?? And by the way, why does everyone think the dorms are so horrible? I’ve stayed there four or five times now and find them quite comfortable and the price unbeatable. Plus, no shuttle bus nonsense to deal with. And until this year — the first time I was sharing a room — I’d never bother to bring my own towel or hangers or anything like that (though hangers would have been good in the past — I used the chairs and bed posts). Besides, the whole hotel/dorm divide is starting to look like a haves/have nots divide and it depresses me.
Speaking of which, my next post (probably from Cowtown unless my motel on the road has wifi) will be on class and the nametag.
*I know this is coming from the woman who still has not told her downstairs neighbors they’re too noisy. But that’s more complicated. How does a thin woman tell the heavy people that they walk too hard? How does the childless woman tell the parents that their child is too loud? How does the dogless woman tell the dog-owners that their dogs are too rambunctious and noisy?