Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Goodbye, Pink Bathroom

On Wednesday I collect papers, and by Memorial Day I should be in Chicago unless for some reason I get stuck on the runway at the Cairo airport for 6 hours again and then Amsterdam has a giant fog issue the likes of London’s December ’06. J leaves me at Amsterdam for a month-long writing residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Ireland, for which he got a grant, I am proud to say.

Anyway, right now I prefer to talk about the impending destruction of the bathrooms. Because we have ancient pipes that continue to be problematic (to have a perspective, we at least have a method to dispose of our sewage), the university is replacing them. OK, we said. No problem. Mafish mish queda, to put it in local terms. The guy in charge of all things plumbing and tile, Ahmed, says, OK, so one day I’ll come get you to go pick out tile. No, really. He said that.

Today was that day. I cannot explain to you the importance of tile in this town. I thought we already had nice tile. I was wrong. Ahmed tsk-tsked that it’s completely outdated.

So this afternoon I’m walking through a tile store with J, after getting to ride in my first pickup truck since coming to Egypt. People are giving us tea in glasses – because that’s what they do here, place scalding glasses of tea in your hands. We shuffle through pattern after pattern, all displayed on hinged doorway-type things (what is the term?) stacked against each other. Tiles are not just tiles here – they have flair. A bunch of tiles, all just one color? No, my friend. There must be decorative tiles, smattered in with the rest. I present to you our current decorative tiles so you understand what I mean:

We know a history professor who has Venus as part of her decorative tile in her bathroom. Today, we actually got away with requesting multi-colored tiles with no decoration.

I’m beginning to understand why people moan and groan so much about the decisions they make when renovating their homes. I don’t even have a stake in these bathrooms, even though for some odd reason I was trusted to pick out their design, which is hilarious since I can’t even dress myself fashionably. I think the only other thing I’ve selected from a group of hinged doorways was a Tiffany poster. Back in the day, it was the red hair that made her win out over Debbie Gibson.

To be honest, J has a better eye than me. But every time he stated his opinion, the tile guys gave him a funny look and then looked at me like: Why isn’t he clearing this with you, woman? And I looked back all: Oh, he thinks he’s in control but has no idea he’s not!

Oh, I’ve engaged in that kind of interaction before, and it wasn’t in Egypt.

Wait a minute, though. We picked out some beauties, perhaps to be photographed and included in the fall when we return to Cairo. But – we have a pink toilet and a sort of puke beige toilet, I say to Ahmed. That’s not gonna look too good with these tiles. Mafish mish queda, Ahmed says – we’ll replace it all.


1 comment:

Stephanie said...

You'll have to come visit us while you're back in Bushland. We'll fix you yummy food, and you can tell us more about your travels & experiences so that we can continue living vicariously through you. :)

Roman goddess tiles could be interesting. Pink tiles (or pink anything, for that matter)--not so much. Eek.