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Slices of Life

Beware of borders, of the bathroom variety

September 1, 2010
Dysart Reporter


Jill Pertler

I've heard it said that a family is like a country. If that's the case, you might say mine is struggling with border issues. Yours, mine and ours where does one begin and the other end?

Many of our squabbles center on a key area of the house: the bathroom. The bathroom is an essential space often fraught with conflict-laden matters. Whose job is it to put the lid down? Who owns the responsibility for flushing? Who gets to shower first in the morning? Should the toilet paper roll from the top down or bottom up? It's all important stuff.

But not as important as borders. I'm afraid ours have been crossed, leaving some of us standing on the wrong side of right. You can do two things with a border; you can come in and you can go out. Our problems run both ways. Let's start with entry. When you traverse into a country or bathroom you quite often bring items with you. This remains legal, as long as you maintain possession of said items. Discarding, littering or otherwise abandoning items meets the definition of a border violation.

At our house, damp towels, music players, specialty lotions, jewelry and dirty clothing are routinely left in the country known as Mom and Dad's bathroom. Crossing the border to transport unwanted goods is illegal and can be defined as smuggling in at least 48 states.

Abandoned items, in my bathroom, wreak havoc with the border patrol (a.k.a. my husband). That's only the half of it. Exiting a country and/or bathroom also elicits border issues some of them criminal in nature. This occurs when the border-crosser is unable or unwilling to differentiate between borrowing and stealing. Here's how I see it: When you are part of a family, some amount of flexibility and sharing is inherent in your contract. My shampoo is your shampoo, my hairspray is your hairspray, my toothpaste is your toothpaste and so on. (But my toothbrush is my own. Keep away!)

A key aspect to borrowing involves an action known as returning. Returning requires bringing the item back to its owner and/or source of origin. A borrowed item must be returned, lest the borrowing becomes stealing.

Real life example: When you abscond with your parent's toothpaste and transport it from inside their bathroom over the border into your bathroom, you are not violating any family treaties or constitutional amendments. Border crossing remains legal in our current state. No law has been broken yet.

If you fail to make a good faith effort to return the toothpaste (or shampoo, hairbrush, make-up, lotion, hairspray or any other item you removed from the parent's bathroom) and those same parents one or both have to brush with bubble gum flavor or use body wash as a shampoo substitute (true life examples, unfortunately) then you are in danger of breaching the Family Border Act of 1991, which clearly defines the perimeters of illegal toothpaste exportation.

Plus, brushing with bubble gum flavor drives the border patrol bonkers. The ins and outs of the bathroom have been plaguing families for generations. It isn't likely that the import and export issues will go away anytime soon at least not at my house. Don't tell immigration, but a little part of me is glad about that. I've grown quite fond of our border patrol.



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