The Basement Files

A basement dweller’s guide to restroom etiquette


Happy birthday to me. Yes, today, Thursday, I turn 30. I’m officially old now, and it stinks. I have gray hairs on my head, strange hairs in other places, and my morning bathroom habits have gotten longer.

And that brings me to my column this week. It’s a column I never thought I would write, but due to an unfortunate incident earlier this week, something I like to call “bathroom sabotage,” I am compelled to write, for the good of the nation, or the eight or so people reading me right now. I’m not going to blame a single group of people for their bathroom misdeeds, because men, and yes, women, are all equally at fault here.

So let’s go over some of the important things to remember when using a bathroom in a house occupied by other people. And with “National Burrito Day” around the corner on April 4, this advice could well be “unflushable.”

Light a match

There are many deodorizer options out there, from sprays to matches, and most folks will have one of them in the bathroom. So use it. No one wants to smell what you left behind, especially if they use the bathroom after you. Or, worse, there is a shower in that bathroom you go and “stink up” before someone gets cleaned up.

That’s just not cool. So if you are at another house, or at home with others, for the love of all things good and holy, use spray or light a match. Even better, if it’s during the summer, and there is a window in the bathroom, open it, shut the door and let nature, not your guests, deal with your leftovers.

Toilet seat (and cover) down

Down. I cannot stress that enough. This is not a gender thing. Put the seat back down, and please, shut the lid before you flush.

Yes, before, and I’ll tell you why. When you flush with the lid up, a nice atomic mushroom cloud-shaped spray of what you left in the bowl erupts forth into the bathroom. You can’t see it? It’s like the sneeze you can’t see. Slow it down (and feel free to look it up on YouTube if you don’t believe me) and you’ll see it. You’ll never leave your toothbrush out again. I’m not a “germaphobe,” but this is just nasty.

Public restrooms:Use at your own risk

According to the Center for Disease Control, 110,197,000 people are infected with venereal diseases in the US. That is why I will never use a public bathroom.

The “over-under” of T.P.

Over, under, who cares. Just because someone in the past said toilet paper had to hang in one direction doesn’t mean they are right. Hang it which ever way you like. It’s there for you and the convenience of your guests.

Now guests, if you go into a bathroom and you think the paper is hanging “the wrong way,” don’t fix it. How dare you come into a someone’s house and have the gall to tell him his T.P. is backward. You’re lucky I’m letting you use any of it. Worse than that is someone who doesn’t bring it up, but “fixes” the roll on their own. This is like re-setting my radio presets, or deleting my DVR recordings. It’s a faux pas of mammoth proportions that will, if I ever catch you, will end in a 10,000-year ban from my house.

Those are some of the more important ones that have come to mind the past few days. I know I’m missing some, like the “you plug it, you plunge it” rule, but I’ll save those for another day. Maybe for next Thanksgiving.

Chris Hamble is a freelance writer and humor columnist serving newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is a lifelong Stillwater resident.