I’d never lived in a studio apartment back in the States. My new home was a first for me, and I embraced it with gusto. Not only was I able to empty and store those damn suitcases, but I’d also just taken a monumental step towards surviving outside of my comfort zone. [Picture Mary Tyler Moore doing that hat-in-the-air toss.] I was ecstatic that I could celebrate the last day of class with a cold bottle of Veuve Clicquot in my own place (I’d moved in two days before) and R&B classics from the 60s and 70s singing to me in the background. The icing on the cake? Fielding congratulatory calls from folks back home for having lived through the CELTA madness.
True to my particular brand of luck, the euphoria didn’t last long. That same night, the ghost in the bathroom appeared just as the plumbing in my bathroom backed up and came flowing through the shower drain. Yuck. Apparently, the previous tenant neglected to mention to my landlords that she had been experiencing problems with the plumbing. The maintenance guy, Manuel–the only handyman I know who doesn’t carry around his own tools–promptly came over the next day and snaked the drain. He then came back the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after that. Was I going to have to keep him on speed dial just to use the bathroom? Looked that way.
By Day 4, I left Manuel alone at the apartment to break through the ground outside and install a new septic tank. I felt kinda bad when he told me it was his birthday.
Once the bathroom plumbing was fixed and I could now make use of the facilities without worrying if that last flush was going to warrant another visit from Manuel, I took a trip to IKEA in Las Suertes to start nesting. If this living room slash bedroom slash kitchen slash breakfast nook slash home office slash closet was going to be my home for the next twelve months, then I was damn sure going to spruce it up.
The bathroom–ghost notwithstanding–was hideous. The fixtures were bright red plastic crap that I’d seen at IKEA in the we-really-want-to-just-give-this-crap-away bin, and the color actually hurt my eyes. I replaced everything with stainless steel, from the bright red round mirror over the sink to the bright red toilet paper dispenser. The only part of the bathroom that I couldn’t do anything about was the faded dark red tiled floor that had seen better days. I’m guessing that flooding regularly occurred, because the cheap tiles were warped by water damage. I’m still trying to figure out a way to cover it all up.
Post-make over, the specter struck again. As I was taking my two-minute shower (the time it takes for the hot water to run out), the head on the shower massager popped off and landed squarely on my foot. I was now hosing myself off like a dog. When I called my landlords’ daughter to explain what happened (her parents don’t speak English), she suggested that I shove the hose back into the head and tape it together. For 550 euros per month? I don’t think so.
The landlords came a few days later. Realizing that this wasn’t just a patch job, they immediately went out and bought a new massager, and installed it for me. It’s now wrapped around the water knobs. This obviously angered the ghost, who’d pretty much decided to annoy the hell out of me and was only warming up.
Not long after this episode did I discover a tiny hole in the bathroom sink. How exactly it got there is beyond me, but now my floor is soaked whenever I wash my hair or the sink. Or do anything else in it, really.
I admit that this recent supernatural event had me wondering why the ghost disliked me so much, but it wasn’t until he (or she) saw fit to blow the power during a cold snap that I concluded that he (or she) just hates me. See, the bathroom is the coldest room in the studio, so I have to rev up a small space heater before I take a shower. Two minutes of hot water does nothing to warm a body when the arctic is waiting on the other side of the door.
And there you have it.
My battle with the ghost in the bathroom continues as we speak. Suction cups don’t stick to the wall, and the water in the shower takes a looooong time to drain, no matter how much Drano I use. I’m not sure if a seance is in order, though I haven’t yet ruled it out. If he (or she) would just tell me what he (or she) wants, I’m sure we could work something out.