I never played Bloody Mary in my mother’s bathroom mirror. It was thin and tall and displayed random black spots through its lens as clearly as it did my big, turned nose and fat gap between my front teeth. The mirror, bastard by nature, hung tightly to the back of the bathroom door and was never a candidate for “BLOODY MARY” three times fast. Mary’s chant was dark and sharp; but the possibility that she might rudely reject my invitation in my parents’ lopsided bathroom, left me dealing with Mr. Mirror the next morning – taunting my frizzy strands and timid nipples, further stabilizing his bastard reputation.
Bastard or not, he knew all my secrets. Mr. Mirror knew what was rubbed, poked, examined, spread, squeezed, and cut on the backside of that bathroom door, and I glared at him from the tub. He smirked with a boomerang shot of my crooked nose and narrow eyes. I tried again. “You better not tell anyone,” my almond eyes shot, but Mr. Mirror stood strong and still. He knew his position would never be disturbed, as he had hung there for twenty-two years my senior, and my mother was known to hang on to her Women’s Day and Good Housekeeping magazines until their spines were bitter and crisp, peeling back dusty, desperate whispers of “Let us rest!” as my father scooted them further to the back of his storage shed.
Bloody Mary herself would probably sit in the tub with me and laugh at Mr. Mirror for his constant intimidation tactics; she was a purposeful woman, drowning her baby in a river of blood and claiming lives of young girls who knew not what to expect when her name was teased. Unfortunately, I had not called for the gall of Mary and I sunk my head under the gray waters of the tub, hiding from the bastard’s sharp wooden corners. The water found my ears and filled them up with a soft “plunk” – first the left, and then the right with a slight nod of my head. I had escaped Mr. Mirror’s scrutiny – the underwater hum of the white porcelain tub was ”base” from my indiscretion exposition he was hosting.
The bathtub, too, knew all my lewd secrets, but she had many of her own: the black curly hairs which rested on her thin edges and clung to her sides following my father’s baths, giggled when they saw me, and the sharpened sliver of slimy Safeguard sneered at me from his corner. I knew she kept my father’s secrets, along with my own and I thought about where I fell on the grand spectrum of incestual contact as my dainty vagina sat on Mrs. Bathtub’s smooth belly – lips respectfully sealed.
My father’s bathing was nothing less than a secret, as my mother scolded him for his bath taking. “You are sitting in your own filth,” she cringed. “I bet that water is as black as night by the time you are done!” My father would glare at her, over his square wired frames and fight back, “Woman – you worry about yourself, now, ya hear? If I want to sit in my own black, dirty water, then I will.” After my mother left the room, out of complete disgust, my father leaned over, “I just love to run that hot water up to plumb near full and just get in and soak. “It feels so good,” he grinned.
He shivered his shoulders and ran his arms up their opposite sides. He toggled back and forth, as if warming himself in my mother’s warm cigarette smoke. I wondered about the extent of his bathroom ritual as his eyes gleamed, ear to ear, and his smile beamed wide and feverishly.
My father, towering well over six feet, gave Mrs. Bathtub quite the run for her money. I imagined my father crimped up in her narrow, white-walled belly – her mouth puckered up like a little girl holding her breath with an impish grin – cheeks bulged and lips taut and quivering. I could not imagine, however, my father not making it worth Mrs. Bathtub’s time: he was fun and childish. My father enjoyed the handwritten jokes he slid across the table to my mother. She scoffed. He gloated. I wondered what went on when my father was away at work at all hours of the day and night. I could only assume my father ran wild once outside the reach of my mother’s ear – and I was certain he and his friends flapped and squawked “FUCK!” and “SHIT!” as they scribbled out dirty drawings with their oil-stained hands.
The grease my father carried home under his fingernails was nonetheless legitimate and well deserving of such shenanigans and I could only hope my father was rewarding himself behind that bathroom door as much as I did after a lengthy week of spelling-bee studying.