Fellowship of the Brush. Yes, I am a member.
I clean a mean toilet. There is a reason for that. Growing up, we were a large household of seven boys. At a certain point my Mom got fed up and instituted mandatory chores to spread the joy around a bit. My particular joy, was the bathroom. I had to clean the bathroom every morning before I went to school. That is, after everybody peed in it and hopefully did not miss the bowl.
It sounds like a nasty job. In fact I hated it. Not wanting to linger, I learned how to get good at it, and fast. At a certain point I was getting a certain satisfaction of a job well done, while admonishing my brothers to watch their aim. I looked at cleaning products with a new eye, and got enthusiastic about those whose efficacy I could boast.
When my wife went away last week, I did a big cleanup the day before her return. I stepped back and admired my work. Yes, I do a mean bathroom if I do say so myself.
Talking about bathroom stuff makes me think about that famous job that gets a mention on shows like “Worst Jobs in History”. That is the king’s bum wiper, otherwise known as the Groom of the Stool. I am betting this guy had few friends, and the ones he had thought twice before shaking hands. Yes, there is ignominy in such a task. And the reason for that, is because in my mind and in yours, the King should have been wiping his own butt. It’s only fair, especially that one should not think lightly of passing off such grunt work onto someone else’s shoulders.
Maybe it is a Canadian thing, that we don’t have a serving class, but I tend to think more highly of those who do their own dirty work. It makes me think they have a certain amount of basic character. The opposite of this arrangement, the kind that makes me cringe, is when I hear my wife’s friend from California talking on Skype. She always has some project going. When she brags about it, the term comes up “My Mexicans”. Yes “My Mexicans just did my garden beds… etc”. It makes me shudder because in such arrangements, it’s only good if you are NOT the Mexican. To think lightly of such social order is a bit sad to me.
Take this to extremes, and you can see life truly out of whack. When we went to Las Vegas we found out what that saying means “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. My wife convinced me to visit Las Vegas as a must-see, and bragged about how all of the shows are subsidized by peoples’ gambling. If you don’t gamble, you get a cheap holiday and there is much to see. Our daughters were small at the time, and quite bug-eyed with what was going on. They wanted an explanation. What we did not anticipate was the in-your-face hooking industry, entirely legal and out in the open. It’s everywhere. Men handing out cards on the street to passersby, vans driving by with large air-brushed advertisements… “Two girls delivered to your room for $99.00”
That almighty American dollar. It makes me wonder about such forms of capitalism. Their lifestyle is extreme, and it makes me wince that anybody should think of that is normal, let alone praiseworthy. By the time we left, I was glad to take my daughters out of there, and sad that the ones in all of those advertisements, were also someone’s daughters, fallen in bad enough times to have to join the worst of serving classes possible. I couldn’t wait to wipe the tawdry dust off my feet when we left. It made me understand the stories in the Bible where God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness. They had come to find such arrangements normal, and even winked about it. “What happens in Sodom and Gomorrah stays in Sodom and Gomorrah”.
At its heart, it is life out of balance. Social arrangments based on mutual dignity are much better than those based on taking advantage of economic desperation. That one should be a king and another a pauper is not a very praiseworthy arrrangement. Back at home, I belong to the fellowship of the brush, those who find virtue in doing their own dirty work. It’s a metaphor for the way life should be, that one should clean one’s own toilets. If what went down the hole is yours, you should also own it. Trust me, it is a virtue.
Tip to the wise. Baking soda and an old toothbrush can do wonders to clean up that guck and scum that can build up on faucets and bathroom fixtures. Keep it in its own wrapper, put off to the side. Don’t get it mixed up with your spouse’s toothbrush or that will be another problem altogether.