Thursday, September 6, 2007

Privacy? What's That?

During the same trip where my cousins and I almost had a close encounter with a bear, a few other things happened that are worth telling. Bear with me. (Terrible, I know.)

FYI: My grandparents regularly called all the small children in our family "├ędes" (pronounced 'ay-desh'). It means "sweet" in Hungarian. You need to know this. There will be a quiz later.

My grandparents lived in an old farmhouse made of granite. What can I say? It was Ontario and the builders used the materials they had on hand. For the record a stone house is really cool and comfortable in the summer but in the winter, without a woodstove, you can forget about having running water in your pipes. The foundation and basement were stone too. In fact, the basement, with it's cold dark stone, cobwebs, bad lighting and sump pump hole was pretty much a horror filmmaker's dream. I'd love to go back there with a camera and make one of those low-budget, creepy "There's Something in the Basement" summer slasher flicks.

But that's not the best part. The only way to get to the basement was through the bathroom.

I'll give you a moment to wrap your head around that concept.

To get to the stairs leading to the basement, you had to go through the bathroom and walk past the sink and toilet. It was like having an awesome secret passage in the bathroom. Only it wasn't a secret and it was actually incredibly inconvenient.

It wouldn't have been so bad if my grandparents weren't European peasants with no concept of privacy. I'm not sure there even is a word in Hungarian for 'private'. If there is, no one in my family ever used it. Why would you want to be alone? Are you doing something you're not supposed to? Then why not do it with family around? Why be hiding? So you're naked in the tub? We changed your diaper when you were a baby, we've seen you naked, it's not that exciting. Privacy? What's that?

So one time, my cousin Leilani went to the bathroom. She's sitting on the can with her panties around her ankles (we know this because she told us, we weren't actually IN the room... ok we were right outside snickering and hooting) minding her own business. James and I were watching from the dining room in fascinated horror as Grandpa shuffled over to the bathroom door, opened it, and marched right in without hesitation. He shuffled towards the stairs while Leilani covered herself with her arms and tried desperately to pretend she wasn't there.

As Grandpa got to the top of the stairs to go down, he turned, looked directly at her and with a friendly wave said, "Hi ├ędes!" and then went downstairs.

After several minutes, Leilani came out of the bathroom. Her eyes were as big as dinner plates and her mouth was turned down in the most pathetic frown a little girl has ever worn. She hung her head.

Of course, we howled at her unmercifully.

After that, she always went out of her way to the upstairs bathroom. She figured Grandpa wouldn't go in there as often, since it only led to the attic.

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