In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter Thompson’s quasi-fictional alter-ego narrator relays a memory of accidentally spilling half the contents of a spansule of LSD on the sleeve of his shirt in a men’s room during a show at a San Francisco nightclub called the Matrix; one of the musicians from the show happens upon him just afterward, and immediately and without invitation or announcement begins sucking on his sleeve, to enjoy the LSD spilled all over it.
A very gross tableau. I wondered what would happen if some Kingston Trio/young stockbroker type might wander in and catch us in the act. Fuck him, I thought. With a bit of luck, it’ll ruin his life—forever thinking that just behind some narrow door in all his favorite bars, men in red Pendleton shirts are getting incredible kicks from things he’ll never know. Would he dare to suck a sleeve? Probably not. Play it safe. Pretend you never saw it….Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
I couldn’t help but think of this passage yesterday, when a Wirecutter guide to toilet-brush purchase and care from at least as far back as June of 2020 made the rounds accompanied by the following tweet:
The casual claim—”You shouldn’t keep your toilet brush around for more than a few months”—like it’s something anybody would know. “Extend its life.” (What retires a toilet brush?) A cold chill went down my spine. In my adult life I have bought a new toilet brush, at an estimate, as often as I have changed addresses. When it’s time to move, you chuck the old toilet brush on the principle that it would be disgusting and ludicrous to pack a used toilet brush and move across town with it; for my whole adult life, this has been The Way as I understood it.
Reader, have I been a compulsive itinerant, changing addresses every few months over the past 20-plus years? I have not! I’ve lived in my present residence for four and a half years; I lived in the prior one for even longer; in fact, to my recollection I haven’t lived anyplace for less than one continuous year since the summer of 2002. I’ve possessed, in total, maybe six or seven toilet brushes in this millennium. According to the math, this means I am doing toilet-brush ownership insanely wrong, and I haven’t even opened the article yet.
What eldritch terrors live on the toilet brush in my house? To what monstrous nightmare vapors have I exposed my poor children? I’m afraid to even go near the bathroom right now. Imagine what my life would be like if only I’d thought to replace my toilet brush more than one-tenth as often as Wirecutter recommends. Have I diminished my capacities, my family’s, via the inhalation of advanced poop-fumes effervescing off the ancient, accursed toilet brush? Is this why my hair is thinner? Am I nose-blind to horrors beyond imagination? Dear God. I’m going to have to burn my entire house down.
Maybe the actual Wirecutter blog has answers. “Let’s face it, there’s nothing glamorous about a toilet brush,” it begins, and I am 100-percent in agreement so far. Yes. The toilet brush lacks glamour. 10-4, good buddy, that’s a copy. But the sentence continues: “—but there’s also no need for it to be an embarrassing eyesore.” What the fuck!
My toilet brush looks like a white plastic stick with some bristles on it, standing in a little white plastic canister in an innocuous corner of the bathroom. It has looked that way for over four years! Whose eyes could be getting sore at this, to my embarrassment???? Where could anyone possibly be keeping their home’s toilet brush—and in what state of splattered filth!—that it could qualify as an embarrassing eyesore? Whose eye is even doing much more than absently passing over the toilet brush in your home? What kinds of social activities are you hosting in your bathroom.
Once again I am confronted, right in the first sentence of the extremely long blog, by the possibility that I have been doing not just toilet-brush ownership but the entire broader project of living in a domicile and inviting other humans into it, possibly all the way up to having eyes and using them, not just differently from some other person but in manners profoundly alien to everyone around me. We are talking about patterns of toilet-brush usage, storage, and replacement that cannot possibly be reconciled to mine, here. What else, what other humdrum routines of adult life, am I doing not just, like, idiosyncratically, but incomprehensibly in relation to the standards of the experts?
I went to bed last night haunted by the mental image of a clean, confident, self-actualized Wirecutter editor daintily and with perfect, absolute self-assurance grasping a cut of fresh yellowtail sashimi between a pair of immaculate OXO Good Grips toilet brushes and lifting it to be eaten. Gesturing dynamically at an impressive upward line-graph with an extended toilet brush, while colleagues nod thoughtfully. In the throes of passion, holding tight to a lover with a pair of toilet brushes. An ecstasy I’ll never know. Somebody’s whole life has been a nightmare, goddammit. I can’t go back to the world I knew yesterday.