This wasn't just anthropological study. This was a fight. I had helped my former landlord, at that point my future landlord, find a rental property that I planned to live in. We had wandered through some of the most dilapidated piss-stained lead paint-for-lunch asbestos wombs in the city, trailing a limping realtor who was clinging to the last vestiges of the stir-up era and railings.
He ended up buying a duplex in the heart of Central Hillside. My apartment had an extra large bathtub with jets, an anomaly compared to the gray matted carpeting sheared from the back of a feral dog. It had two bedrooms, one that was only like a bedroom but without electrical outlets or closets and a window curiously placed at floor-level. It was more like the pop out wing of a camper. I took this, and a few other construction curiosities, for quirk rather than band aid rigging.
The realtor knew he was a landlord novice and offered him a copy of the lease she used with her own tenants. It was pages and pages of what I considered optional codes of conduct. My landlord and I raced each other through the pages to one-up the other in the quest for the most ludicrous rules.
I found the winner:
"Please do not put tampons in the toilet."
I gasped at the hilarity of gift wrapping tampons with a four-ply bow and placing them politely in a trash can. This from a contract composed by a woman who probably used shoulder straps to hold her feminine hygiene product in place, giving wistful glances at the aerodynamic convenience of Pampers.
He squashed the moment pretty quickly.
"I don't want you to put tampons in the toilet," he said in his serious voice.
I explained the definition of "Flush-able." Told him that ever since Laura Ingalls Wilder's funeral, women have been flushing tampons. I found legitimate websites to back my argument. He wouldn't budge on it, but it didn't really matter. It wasn't like I was going to invite him into the bathroom to watch me comply with the terms of his adopted lease.
Per usual, he told me a long story -- seemingly a metaphor for something. Mostly it just sounded like an urban legend or a country song. His brother once worked for Roto Rooter. A man's toilet was clogged, and the brother went to fix it. When he was finished he took the man aside and said "You want to throw condoms in a garbage can, not the toilet." The man said "We don't use condoms, my wife is on the pill." Duh-duh-dun.
I didn't really understand the connection. Tampon users diddle the mailman?
"You know tampons aren't made out of latex or inflatable, right?" I asked, I mean seriously wondering.
He sent me a long email explaining that he planned to stand behind his no flushing policy, conceded he knew nothing about tampons, but that he knew a thing or two about cause and effect. Then he referenced the movie moment that has become his closing argument since Video Vision offered "As Good As it Gets" as free movie of the week for people had earned a certain amount of stamps by using the video store's tanning booths:
I will include the part about the tampons in my lease agreement. If you're convinced in your assumption that tampons never clog septic lines, you have nothing to worry about. You should sign the lease agreement and laugh at it like you did.But if you're not correct, you would prove the line from ``As Good as it Gets,'' where Jack was asked, ``How do you write women so well?'' And he responded by saying, ``First off, I start with a man, but then I take away reason and accountability.''
Truthfully, the slight majority of people who commented on my blog at the time were Team Gift Wrap. Although one was from Norway, and also claims urinary tract infections come from sitting on cold stones. Throw was even the response from some people who by all outward appearance gave off a real Flusher vibe.
As I sit here writing about this now, six years later, I can't figure out if I was right or not. The internet seems torn between "flush unless there is a septic tank," and "always throw." But a lot of the flushers seem to justify flushing because "That's what I've always done because it's what I was told to do." Ditto, internet. But I was also told to consider Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup useable in 90 percent of foods, and well.
Unfortunately, even if I wandered into the woods for 3-5 days of sitting over a hole in the dirt, my response to my former landlord must now forever be one of 100 percent flusher. Especially since the pipes in his duplex just backed up and he had to call in a plumber who told him the blockage was caused by tampons.
He is, of course, blaming me. I technically moved out four years ago and literally moved out three years ago and other women of menstrual age have lived at that address. Still, there has been much frivolity from him. As though he is glad that he had to wade through ankle deep burrito stains because it means he is right. He claims I owe him a case of Natural Light.