Sunday, December 10, 2006

THE VIRTUES OF A CLEAN BATHROOM: A Special Report for A Milonguera's Chow Guide

You've probably been wondering what my deal is with the bathroom report in my Chow Guide. I wouldn't call myself a neat freak or a germophobe. If you had seen my car and one of my old apartments, you would know that nothing could be further from the truth. Matted dog hair, sticky cup holders, unidentifiable and dehydrated vegetables in the back of my fridge. It was pretty gross, I have to admit.

However, while the rest of my world could have been growing fur or serving as lab experiments, my bathroom was always clean. How did such a slob become such a proponent for a clean water closet? As many psychotherapists like to think, it all goes back to one's family of origin.

My mom worked for hospitals and the American Red Cross. We'd take our shoes off at the door and wash our hands as soon as we arrived to prevent bringing any germs from the world outside into our house. When I was little she instructed me to stand on or hover over the toilet, or to line the seat with an inch's worth of toilet paper to prevent any contact with other people's germs. She disinfected the kitchen and bathroom with such environment blasters as Comet or Ajax. God love her.

These childhood experiences have been burned forever in my memory, so that I cannot review a restaurant without also checking out the bathroom. Of course, I could probably do a kitchen tour, but, as my boyfriend says, I should just stay away from the kitchen. Besides, the bathroom tells me plenty. It reflects, in part, how the kitchen personnel will care for the food I will put in my body. If the bathroom is downright nasty, or if the soap dispenser is empty or the toilet paper is missing from the stalls, how much attention are they going to give me and my chow?

Details and impressions are important, as we all know from tango. A tweak to one's hip or a turn in one's head can make all the difference in the world. A careful consideration of one's partner in the dance many times reveals a careful consideration of others in general. Of course, I may be having an "off" day and could care less about my hip alignment, as these restauranteurs may be all about the kitchen and nothing else, but putting forth the effort to attend to such details marks the difference between a good experience and fantastic experience on or off the dance floor.


Caroline said...

Actually, I saw a show featuring a world-renowned heart surgeon. He says that as far as toilet seats go, we cannot possibly pick up germs because we all urinate and defecate and as such, have become innoculated against such possibilities. Furthermore, the more you try to protect yourself against germs, the more sensitive you become to them. Of course one should still wash their hands after using the toilet but one need not be so obsessive about it, such as using those anti-bacterials hand wipes or gels. He says they don't actually make a real difference except to make you more susceptible to germs because your immunity is no longer as fortified against them. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

just found this page...chicken thigh and boob :).....after years of living in asia, this i'll have to translate to friends the next time i'm eating on the streets out there...

love your stuff, and coming bsck to BsAs this summer after two years of political tango 'shite' in Seattle...

tks for the writs