I confess. I read in the bathroom – a lot. In fact, a frequent admonishment when I was a kid is one I now use with Fuzzy when he’s taking forever (thankfully with three bathrooms this doesn’t usually affect me in anything but an annoyance sort of way.): Put the book DOWN. I know we’re not alone in this – there’s a reason people nickname this room the Reading Room.
This has me thinking about bathroom decor, and literary bathrooms. We know that Laura in Little House on the Prairie used an outhouse, and that when she and her family were in hiding, Anne Frank was limited to sponge baths and a pull-chain WC, but what about more modern, luxurious fictional bathrooms. I’m offering four of my favorites, but feel free to add your own.
- V. I. Warshawski’s bathroom. I don’t recall specific descriptions, but I know she has a tub big enough to soak in. In fact, this is one of the things that draws me to her creator, Sara Paretsky’s work: yes, her heroine gets dirty and bruised, but at the end of the day, she gets to listen to opera and soak in a bubble bath. Or at least at the end of the case. I see her tub as a vintage cast iron claw-foot thing, with one of those trays across it to hold soap.
- Jean-Claude’s bathroom. Big, white, lots of tile, and a tub large enough for one of my favorite fictional vampires and many friends, or just Anita, who has spent many many hours in his tub. For that matter, she’s spent a lot of time washing off monster goo or just taking relaxing soaks in her own tub, but even if Laurell K. Hamilton didn’t specify it, I’m pretty certain her tubs are of the modern, pre-fab, variety.
- The Multidimensional Bathroom aboard the Gay Deceiver in Robert A. Heinlein’s The Number of the Beast. This book isn’t the best literature – I mean, Heinlein is fun, but hardly arty, you know? And he can be more than a little sexist, but in this book he did introduce us to the concept of “world-as-myth” aka “pantheistic solipsism” which Wikipedia.org defines as “the theory that universes are created by the act of imagining them, so that somewhere even fictional worlds are real.” In any case, the Gay Deceiver is a sports car space ship, and after her crew makes a pitstop in Oz, they find that their bathroom has become a pocket of Oz, with a huge tub, lots of space, and separate sections for “boys” and “girls” – because we all know Oz is a place of innocence.
- The Prefects’ Bathroom at Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling may like to tease her readers, even after the series has ended, with tidbits about the characters, but the woman also knows how to build a bathroom. A tub deep enough to swim in, a pesky mermaid portrait, and taps with bubbles and scents pouring forth. Sadly she wastes this bathroom on Harry. I mean, I like the kid, but this is a bathroom that really needs a woman – or Draco Malfoy – to appreciate it.
So that’s my list.