Thank you for joining me for the summer redux series. I am re-posting stories you may not have read, in the fashion of a summer re-run. We’ll get back to our regular posting schedule in two weeks.
The original “You Get What You Pay For” posted back in May 2012. It’s been embellished since then.
* * *
A loud crack issued from the bathroom, followed by a muffled thud.
“Richard, are you all right?” I asked, rushing toward the bathroom in our West Seattle apartment.
The former round, mint green toilet seat, shared the fate of a turkey wishbone. The black interior porcelain exposed. The broken halves dangled from either side of the bowl.
“That’s gonna leave a mark,” he said, rubbing his backside. He dropped his running sweats the half mile of his long legs to around his ankles.
“What happened?” I asked, running my fingers through my shoulder length brown hair.
“I was getting ready to take a shower and sat on the toilet to unlace my shoes,” he said, twisting around to view the welts forming on the back his legs. “When I bent over, the toilet seat snapped in two.”
“That looks horrible, I said, shaking my head. “I’ll call the landlord and ask him to deliver a new seat.”
“No, Fannie, I’d rather go down to the hardware store and pick up a new one,” he said, his voice taking on the quality of a military commander.
“Richard, this seat has to be at least 35-to-40-years-old. I’m sure this happens all the time,” I said, crossing my arms and staring up at him and trying to will him to be reasonable.
“No, we’re gonna get a new one after I shower.” The color in his cheeks matched the welts on the back of his legs—angry.
Thirty minutes later we walked down the toilet aisle of the local big box hardware store. Oblong, round, and horseshoe shaped seats with colors ranging from red to black and white hung on the thirty foot long display.
We stood in the aisle looking up at the display, the fluorescent lights over head taking turns between bright and subdued.
“Do you see one that matches our toilet?” Richard asked, studying the display.
“No, what do you want to do?”
A store employee, matching Richard in height, approached us. “Do you need some help?” she asked.
“Yes, our toilet seat failed this morning and we need to get a replacement,” I said, looking up at her.
“What color is the existing toilet?”
“I would recommend you get a contrasting color, such as black, white or gray. Otherwise the seat will clash and you’ll hate it.”
Richard and I looked at each other.
“What’s on sale?” I asked.
“The sale items are at the end of the aisle,” she said, guiding us.
“Fannie, look they have a white seat for only four dollars,” Richard said, grabbing a box from the stack.
* * *
Three weeks later my parents stopped by for a visit.
My father wore his signature sky blue polo shirt, khaki pants, and a slight sheen of sweat rimmed his graying horseshoe hairdo.“Fannie, the Memorial Day traffic was terrible, can I use your bathroom?” my father asked.
“Of course, Dad.”
One minute later, the telltale crack reverberated throughout the apartment followed by a slew of expletives not fit to print.
Using masking tape, Richard and my father triaged the toilet seat.
Standing in the toilet display aisle, the four of us searched for a new seat.
“Fannie, Richard, I found a lovely seat for only fifteen dollars. That should do the trick,” my mother said, holding up a two-tone gray and black speckled seat. Her dark brown Suzanne Pleshette wig tied into place with a pale blue scarf rolled into a tube. Her sky blue pantsuit matched my father’s shirt, and she finished off the ensemble with three-inch-high white sandals. “And it should last a lot longer than your previous seat.”
* * *
The trees next to our apartment turned a flaming red and gold. A crisp, damp chill clung to the morning air. The Puget Sounds salt air seasoned the chill.
Two orange tabbies perched in the living room window chasing a fly when we walked into the apartment after our run.
“Richard, I’m going to take the first shower.”
The cats followed me into the bathroom. Wicket leaped onto the toilet seat followed by Sadie. I turned on the water. They watched the steam rise from the faucet. The fly joined us in the bathroom. Two orange heads pivoted as one.
The fly circled the room twice, landing on the clear plastic shower curtain. When I closed the shower curtain, the fly flew straight above the cats. Wicket leaped into the air and caught it in his mouth landing back on the toilet seat with a thud followed by the crack. Wicket let go of the fly and the two cats raced from the bathroom.
“Fannie, are you okay?” Richard asked, tripping over the cats on his way into the bathroom.
“I’m okay, but we need another toilet seat,” I said, laughing.
“I bought some duct tape yesterday. That should hold it together until we can get another one.”
“Can I just call the landlord?”
“It’s a thing,” he said, nodding his head as if that answered my question. Richard’s skilled hands wound the duct tape over the broken seat. “Look, good as new.”
“How can you say that with a straight face?” I asked, laughing at the now designer seat.
“Trust me, the duct tape will hold,” Richard said, his devilish grin spreading across his face.
* * *
Two days later, my sister, Eleanor visited. Like the rest of the women in my family, she teased the five-foot mark. Shoulder length brown hair and wearing a pink and red flowered peasant blouse that escaped from the sixties. “Love what you’ve done with the toilet seat, Richard. I think you should autograph it,” she said, winking.
* * *
The next day we took the familiar walk of shame down the toilet display aisle. At the end of the aisle on a black velvet background with jewelry display lights beaming on it, hung a white opalescent toilet seat. Below it, a placard listed the price as $32.
The opalescent sheen’s rhythmic pulse enthralled under the display light. We stood mesmerized.
“What do you think, should we spent that much money?” I asked, watching the ever changing sheen on its smooth surface.
“At that price, it should last until we move or die, whichever comes first,” Richard said, taking a box from the stock below. “We can’t go wrong.”
Rushing home with our new treasure, we raced up the stairs to our apartment. Richard removed the duct taped designer seat from the toilet. I opened the box and removed the plastic wrap. Handing him the toilet seat, we both froze.
“That’s a problem,” I said, looking at the oblong seat.
Laughing, Richard said, “Fannie, think of it this way, it will be much more comfortable than the old round seat.”
“Well, I guess we can tell my family we are starting an new fashion trend in bathroom decorating. Maybe they’ll all want to join in,” I said, bungee cords held the grin to my face.
“That’s the spirit.”
* * *
Eight years later we purchased our own home. On moving day, I polished the opalescent throne for the last time. Richard and I watched as the seat shimmered in the light.
“I guess you were right when you said it would last until we moved,” I said.
Putting his arm around my shoulders, he gave me a squeeze. “It just goes to show you, you get what you pay for.”