The Common Good
January 2011

A Giant Flushing Sound...

by Ed Spivey Jr. | January 2011

Not to brag, but my new toilet was rated Best Flush for 2010.

Not to brag, but my new toilet was rated Best Flush for 2010. I don't know if this reflects its intrinsic design superiority or if the manufacturer was simply teaching to the test, but it does recall the original slogan of George W. Bush's education initiative: "No Child Left Behind; Check the Bathrooms." (It was supposed to be a reminder to school bus drivers, but Congress broadened it considerably.)

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Regardless, my new toilet has three times the standard flush power, which means the user should not remain seated when the flushing process is initiated, unless that person's effects are in order and power of attorney established.

This is just one of the features of our new quarter-bath downstairs, the construction of which was my attempt to stimulate the weak economy while providing a place for me to use in the coming years when I become too frail to make it to my secret place in the back yard.

A quarter-bath, a home improvement concept of my own invention, is like a half-bath, only smaller, by half. There's space for a sink, a toilet, and a small person not wearing bulky clothing. Definitely a summer destination. There is room to sit, but not room to flail your arms emotionally after being denied use of the larger bathroom because family members, citing overcrowding, threatened to call the fire marshal.

In the rosy language of real estate professionals, our new addition might be listed as 'luxury closet w/seating for 1." But I just call it my Special Room, a place to hide from the growing conservatism that is taking America back. From what, I'm not sure, and specifically how far back is also not clear. All we know is that the Tea Party feels VERY STRONGLY ABOUT IT! In fact, they are definitely flailing their arms victoriously after the recent mid-term elections, although not in my new bathroom.

It would be unavailable, in any case, and occupied by me, hiding out and waiting for that inevitable knock on the door. Congressionally ordered inspectors will soon be going house-to-house, identifying personal possessions that violate the original intent of the Constitution, such as recycling bins, cage-free eggs, or copies of The New Yorker. And as a public service, Tea Party canvassers will make sure each American home contains sufficient firearms to ward off any imminent threat, such as health-care reform. Since I have no firearms -- a pre-existing condition which puts me at a marked disadvantage in the areas of personal defense and political discourse -- they will be provided for me. (Note to squirrels: Give me a reason.)

To paraphrase former presidential candidate Ross "Who?" Perot, the elections brought a "giant flushing sound" that carried away the House majority, President Obama's agenda, and any chance that a Democrat could get a good table at a restaurant. ("Excuse me, but how much longer for my McRib sandwich?!")

America has spoken. And then America went back to watching "Dancing with the Stars," no longer paying attention. So they'll miss the new House members taking their oath of office. (Staffer: "No, congressman, we're not going to tread on you. So please stop saying that, and repeat after me ... ")

Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners. His award-winning book A Hamster is Missing in Washington, D.C. is in its second printing and available at

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