I swear, I blogged about this a while back. But I’ve searched my archives (even using an external search tool), and nothing shows up. (If you remember reading it, tell me! I’d hate to turn this into the Alzheimer Files.) So, here goes, another 8-Track Flashback!
Back in the day – 1976 – when the family moved onto the farm, and we built our dome home, my dad was extremely eco-friendly. We were getting Back to Nature. We had running water, and electricity, and a two-party-line phone (of course I listened in, once, and got totally busted by my mother). That phone, as I recall, could kill a fellow. Back then, phones were made of lead, or something equally weighty, and our phone was mounted on the wall, complete with the 20-foot tangled cord and the finger-button dialers, that whirred and clicked as you rotated it over to the stopping mechanism and it returned to its original position. Anyway, where I was going with this is that we were pretty rustic. In that we had no indoor toilet. We had an outhouse. Allow me to educate you a bit in the construction of outhouses, as I assume most of you were raised with flushing toilets. Outhouses are best when they’re a bit of a distance from the house. Ours had a path that led to it, lined with wood (slippery as shit when wet), and no rail – so if you slipped to the right on your voyage out, you could ostensibly end up 30 feet down in a ravine. Things you consider in the dark of night, in the winter. You truly become skilled at determining how badly you actually have to go.
Anyway, as a kid, I went everywhere with my dad. I remember long, boring trips to the hardware store, where I would gaze around and stare at all the uninteresting things, waiting, waiting, waiting. I was too young to be left to my own devices in the VW bus, or in the store, really, so I trailed along behind him, and I didn’t interrupt or ask many questions, because he was always really focused on the job at hand. So all of these trips are one giant blur of DULL in my memory, except for one.
We turned down the aisle that held all of the bathroom accoutrements, stopping in front of an expansive display of toilet seats. My father looked down at me, and said, “You pick it out.” I was transfixed. And a little disbelieving. I looked up at him, my face clearly saying, “Really?” He nodded. “You pick out our toilet seat!” Finally, a decision, an option, a choice, and not just any choice, but one that we would live with for the foreseeable future. Keep in mind, I was 8? So my taste was not yet formed into the refined, persnickety influence that tries to govern me today.
I gazed up at the three rows of seats. Mostly white, some wooden, nothing really stood out until my eyes landed upon It. I pointed at The One. It was fabulous. Absolutely tremendous. And exactly what you’d get if you asked an eight-year-old to design your outhouse. I remember he looked at me sideways, the way he did when he was still figuring out what to say, what to do. “Really?” he said. “Yes!” I exclaimed. Transfixed. Hypnotized. By what was the most fabulous toilet seat in the entire line-up.
It was completely drenched in Cherry Red paint.
On the lid, in black, there was a tree in the lower right. With a branch extending out, and a hole in the tree, with two yellow eyes looking out. Foreshadowing! Simply a portent of things to come. Because, then, you lifted the lid, and you were greeted by an enormous 1970’s owl, in thick black lines, covering the entire inside of the lid, WINKING AT YOU.
He looked at me, and saw my excitement. My abject love of the bright red toilet seat with the communicative owl. “OK,” he said. We bought it and took it home.
I think my mother was a little taken aback, and I remember overhearing something to the effect of “What? This? Really?” (Yes, I got a lot of my style tutelage at her hands, and for all her faults, I’ll give her that – she has got style, and she probably realized that day she needed to Start Earlier.) I puffed out a little when I heard my father say, “I told Jennifer she could pick it out.” Why yes he did. Jennifer did pick it. Picked out a WINNER. And out to the outhouse it went. Many a cold night, I visited my owl buddy. I remember when a grade-school boyfriend gave me a gold ring, with a tree on it, and then a few days later, asked for it back. I lied, and told him I’d lost it, angered that he no longer wanted to be my boyfriend. I looked at that owl as I tossed the ring through the hole that night. Winking, knowingly. Agreeing that he was a schmuck.
We eventually tore down the dome home, and put in toilets and marble floors and vaulted ceilings and the house became something of a palace, a far cry from its dome home footings, poured over the original concrete. The outhouse, too, was torn down, the path fell away, and the people who bought the farm, who own this chunk of my past, have no idea of the comedy and drama, the style (and lack thereof) that was rooted and grown, interwoven and cemented, in my mind, in my life, in my memories. In addition to the toilet seat itself, my most cherished part of that memory is that my father told my mother we were keeping it. Because I had chosen it. It’s why I weep every time I watch Little Miss Sunshine. We all have a little Olive in us, and we all want to be loved for exactly who we are. Questionable taste and all.
P.S. I’ve looked everywhere for a photo of this toilet seat. I saw one on eBay a while back (wrong color, but same visual), and had no luck today finding it. As they say, they just don’t make ’em like they used to….