John Carlson: Half-Bath Hits New Heights

When the wife wants your cruddy half-bath redone, chances are it’s gonna happen. Photo by Nancy CarlsonWhen the wife wants your cruddy half-bath redone, chances are it’s gonna happen. Photo by Nancy Carlson

By John Carlson—

With the New Year here, Nancy has her mind set on updating the half-bathroom attached to my man cave.

This means barring World War III, a tornado blowing down our house, or the Zombie Apocalypse annihilating mankind, no matter how much I object, it’s going to happen. Therefore, I might as well clam up and acclimate myself to the notion.

Even I have to admit that, in terms of inconvenience, this is not going to be home improvement’s equivalent of building the Panama Canal. My half-bathroom is basically the size of an old-time telephone booth. Despite my age, with just a little bit of gumption, I could probably stretch enough to soak my feet in the sink while sitting on the toilet.

So recently, I asked Nancy just what her plans were for my half-bathroom. She answered with a curt, “Sink, toilet, floor.”

This truly astounded me. If you remember from reading a paragraph or two ago, you know my half-bathroom already has a sink and a toilet. As for a floor? The last time I stepped in there, I didn’t plummet, screaming, crotch-first onto a floor joist and, as a result, wish that I were dead.

Therefore, I conclude it already has a floor, too.

Naturally, reluctant though I was to pursue this project, my initial thoughts were directed more toward what would actually make it a pretty cool half-bathroom. By that I meant installing a tiny little putting green, a mini-refrigerator full of microwaveable White Castle sliders, plus a frozen-margarita machine.

Alas, none of that is to be.

It’s getting a new “sink, toilet, floor.”


Yesterday, for the first time in the six years I’ve used it, I looked at the floor with a critical, appraising eye. In its present iteration, it is tiled an incredibly ugly mottled forest green and dark brown – nothing to get excited about. Then again, I found the fact I could keep my excitement in check somewhat comforting.  If I thought I had finally become a guy who could be giddy with excitement about the tile on his half-bathroom’s floor, I would figure it was about time to lead me back behind the barn and shoot me.

Nevertheless, I’ll soon be joining Nancy in studying samples to choose what dynamic new tile is going into my half-bathroom. This is called being a “good sport.” That is even though I’d be just as happy leaving my new tile selection to a professional decorating service employing Stevie Wonder, Andrea Bocelli and Ronnie Milsap.

I’m not that excited about getting a new sink, either. My present sink is OK, looking kind of like one of those big bowls they baptize babies in. Well, except it’s made of white porcelain. This presents a striking visual contrast to what you might call the “sink gunk” clinging to its sloping sides. It seems like every four or five months, whether needed or not, I have to wash down the zillions of tiny beard hairs trapped by the Crest-colored toothpaste globs that are stuck to it.

Also, there is no cold water. The water is hot.

Not just hot. Really hot.

I suspect that way back before we bought this place, the sink in my half-bathroom had cold water. But now, if you turn on the water and let it run for fifteen seconds, when you wash your hands you’ll notice your skin sloughing off in steaming, leprous strips. If we buy me another sink, I’m going to insist the plumbing be tweaked to dispense cold water, too. That way, after brushing my teeth, the insides of my cheeks won’t be sprouting a bunch of blistery puss nodules.

Which brings up my new toilet.

It is something I am actually excited about.

See, all my life I have been a short person. In my twenties I topped out at five-feet-six-and-three-quarters-inches tall. Even to achieve that height, I had to reach around behind, grab my boxer shorts by the waistband and yank myself a power wedgie. Now? I’m guessing the combined weight of seventy years worth of assorted Hostess snack cakes has compacted me to an even five-feet-six.

I have lived my entire life – all 25,612 or so days of it – from a short man’s perspective.

But now toilets used by old people are being made taller than they once were.

This came in response to a rash of incidents in which senior citizens, having successfully completed their morning ablutions, experienced what NASA rocket scientists would describe as a “failure to launch.”

In other words, the oldsters were seated too low on their toilet seats to achieve “lift off.”

But then the most brilliant minds in toilet design realized that if they made toilets taller, Gramps would already be poised to spring into action and get on with his life. So that’s what Nancy is buying me: a taller toilet.

Writing this I can almost picture myself sitting on it, smiling broadly as I gaze below, towering over all I survey, even if my own little kingdom does end at the western wall of my half-bathroom, about three feet from my face.


John’s weekly columns are sponsored by Beasley & Gilkison, Muncie’s trusted attorneys for over 120 years.

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A former longtime feature writer and columnist for The Star Press in Muncie, Indiana, John Carlson is a storyteller with an unflagging appreciation for the wonderful people of East Central Indiana and the tales of their lives, be they funny, poignant, inspirational or all three.  John’s columns appear on every Friday.