Monday, November 16, 2009

In One Door and Out the Other

I just spent a week in Massachusetts with my family, and catching up with old friends, and experiencing Ye Olde New England Bathrooms. One interesting feature of one of these bathrooms was the one belonging to my good friends Agents D and K. They are in possession of a large bathroom with a claw-foot tub and the convenient (or not) feature of two doors, one on either side of the room. Here's the view from the kitchen door:

And here's the view from the living room:

So, basically, if you want to use the loo, you have to first go in one door, walk across the room and lock the other door, then walk back and lock the first door. Well, I guess it depends which door you walk in first, but you get the idea. Unless you want to live dangerously, in which case the only door you probably really need to close is the one leading to the kitchen, since the other door opens onto a little vestibule with no other access, and not the living room itself.

We discussed possible reasonings for this set-up. They pointed out that the house used to be all one house and was divided into four apartments. So most likely, this room was not originally a bathroom (it may also have been built built before there was a lot of indoor plumbing.) There are, however, very old-looking locks, of the round, turny kind that I used to have in the room I lived in in Maine. It's like a round, brass knob that sticks out, and you turn it one way to get the bolt to go out, and the other way to draw it back in. It's usually situated somewhere above the knob.

Their guess was that the room may at one point have been a walk-in closet. But then, why the locks on both doors that could only be manipulated from the inside? So you could lock yourself in the closet? Hm... It's possible it was always a bathroom of some sort. Or a small bedroom. Or maybe the locks were added later. Maybe it was a bathroom, and the people who designed it were just too lazy to walk around to get in from the other side. Your guess is as good as mine.

One thing I do know is that I am not particularly fond of the bathrooms with two doors. It's enough to monitor one door to make sure it's locked and no one walks in. But then when there are two, then it really doubles the chances of this occurring, and that's not really a great thing, in my opinion. Or you just have to have to think a lot, because it would be so easy to just wash my hands and walk out the one door, completely forgetting about the other.

I've seen several two-door bathrooms on the West Coast, so this set-up is not limited to New England. And in fact, in those cases, the bathroom was accessible only by walking through someone's bedroom, which was kind of odd. I'm sure it's handy if that's your bedroom, but I like a little separation of personal space when I'm visiting someone's house usually.

Anyway, since Agent K has such a spectacular bathroom, you should really think about buying her new book, Life in Violet. It's a novel, set in New England, about a girl named Violet. I've so far only read the first line, but that was enough to tell me it was good! So you should go buy it, and then read it while you ponder the value of two-door bathrooms.

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