November 27, 2021
One in a series of 25 first-person narratives of offense, outrage, innocent transgression or principled affront, in attire, display, speech or spectacle.
I’m a Brooklyn-based cartoonist and playwright who moved into a new artists space during the ides of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, there was a flurry of email exchanges on our floor questioning how much longer we need to wear masks in communal spaces. One studio mate was insistent that people wash their hands whenever they leave the bathroom. A good healthy habit to have but I wondered why that person needed to make sure everyone washed their hands? Especially since hardly anyone in the studio congregates, much less talks to each other. Is it any of my business when you wash your hands? Clean hands or not — no one is touching each other. Here is my response that I never sent:
To those studio mates concerned about everyone washing their hands when they leave the communal bathrooms: I have a greater concern. What about the interior bathroom stall doorknob? You know, the door that creates a private toilet sanctuary sans sink? You have to handle THAT doorknob before getting to the communal sink to wash your soiled hands. How do we fix the problem of urine- and feces-infected bathroom stall doorknobs?
1) We look into self-cleaning doorknobs? Do they exist? If not, can someone in our shared studio space invent one?
2) We hire a 24-hour bathroom monitor. Like those workers in the nightclubs who hand you a paper towel and a mint. The worker you felt bad NOT tipping because you can grab your own damned paper towel. And, good lord, what happened to that person that they wound up handing paper towels and mints to a thousand strangers in a nightclub bathroom? (I’ll ask my friend who did that gig back in the ’90s at The Palladium.) Anyway, if we hire a bathroom monitor at $25 per hour it would cost approx. $17k per month. Split between 100 studios, that could cost each studio an extra $170 per month. Of course, said monitoring would be split into 2-3 shifts. Ergo, 2-3 monitors. Friendly and, ultimately, intimate faces to meet and greet you at the bathroom and get to know your business. Oh wait, we have TWO bathroom areas. Which means it would cost $34k per month. Making it an additional $340 per month to your rent. Ouch. Never mind. Let’s scratch this idea.
3) We remove all bathroom doors so we never have to touch a doorknob and have direct access to the sink to wash our filthy hands. Alas, we’d get to know each other VERY WELL. And, that could lead to human beings actually acknowledging each other in the hall.
Image by Dean Haspiel and Whitney Matheson
PROJECT:OBJECTIONABLE: INTRODUCTION by Adam McGovern | Adrienne Crew on MAKIN’ BACON | Lynn Peril on BABY’S FIRST ASHTRAY | Lisa Levy on TOILETTE-À-TÊTE | Maria Swisher on STEALING GENIUS | Oliver Baer on CTHULHU SEX MAGAZINE | Yelena Tylkina on A DRINK TO DEATH | Elke Claus on URINAL SHRINE | Jeff Lewonczyk on SUSPENDERS OF DISBELIEF | Jenn Mehm on TWIN SKIN | Marlon Stern Lopez on SOUVENIR OF THE LAPD | Lauren Curtis on NAILED IT! | Josh Glenn on K-TEL TRUCKER TAPE | Fran Pado on THE BRIEF LIFE OF FRANCES POTTER | Nikhil Singh on HASHTAG FASHIONPOLICEPROBLEMS | Adam McGovern on PERSONA NON GRATA | Crystal Durant on LICENSE TO SHOCK | Dean Haspiel on DIRTY DOORKNOB | Justin J Bowen on UNKLE KRAMPUS | Annie Nocenti on STICKY FINGERS | Michele Carlo on THE MANY HATS OF CARMEN MOFONGO | Alice Meichi Li on BEDTIME FOR CATWOMAN | Whitney Matheson on GYNECOLOGICAL GOODFELLA | Ran Xia on PROJECT GREENCARD | Mimi Lipson on MEIN KITSCH | Art Wallace on ELECTRIC KOCH.
MOVIE OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Ramona Lyons on EYE OF THE SERPENT (CONAN THE BARBARIAN) | Faythe Levine on BEDKNOB (BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS) | Gerald Peary on CUP OF COFFEE (THE BIG HEAT) | Christopher Orr on TOM’S HAT (MILLER’S CROSSING) | Lynn Peril on TRANSISTOR RADIO (DR. STRANGELOVE) | & 20 MORE.
LOST OBJECTS (vol. 2): INTRODUCTION | Joe Yonan on MACRAMÉ ART (ill. Theo Ellsworth) | Ben Katchor on LUCITE CARRYING CASE | Debbie Millman on GLASS POODLE | Lydia Millet on ROCKY HORROR NOVEL (ill. Berta Valló) | Ben Greenman on WARHOL CAN (ill. Clara Selina Bach) | & 20 MORE.
FETISHES: INTRODUCTION | Josh Foer on DEATH MASK | Beth Lisick on MURDERED-OUT KFC BUCKET | Christina Couch on LEECH ACTION FIGURE | Kenneth Goldsmith on THEWLIS SOCK | Abby Rapoport on MAGNATILES | & 20 MORE.
FOSSILS: INTRODUCTION | Allegra Huston on SKATAWAY JACKET | Kevin Obsatz on HOMEMADE NUNCHUKS | Ian Bogost on DESKTOP TELEPHONE | Jeff Lewonczyk on CHA-CHA JACKET SCRAP | Kelly Horan on VOLVO KEY | & 20 MORE.
FLAIR: INTRODUCTION | Cliff Kuang on ROLEX DATEJUST | Ethan Zuckerman on LAPTOP STICKERS | Ann Shoket on LEATHER JACKET | Kembrew McLeod on KEMBREW MERCH | Paola Antonelli on MERMAID TEARS | & 20 MORE.
LOST OBJECTS (vol. 1): INTRODUCTION | Kate Bernheimer on MULLET WIG (ill. Amy Evans) | Dan Piepenbring on COLOGNE (ill. Josh Neufeld) | Doug Dorst on STRATOCASTER (ill. John Holbo) | Paul Lukas on VANILLA BEAN (ill. Allison Bamcat) | Mimi Lipson on DODGE DART (ill. Mister Reusch) | & 20 MORE.
ILLICIT OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Kio Stark on PEEPSHOW TOKEN | Sari Wilson on TOMBSTONE PARTS | Annalee Newitz on CAR-BOMB REMNANT | Tito Bottitta on MOONINITE DEVICE | Eric Bennett on DIRTY MAGAZINE | & 20 MORE.
TALISMANIC OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Veda Hille on CROCHET SHEEP | Gary Panter on DINOSAUR BONES | Jami Attenberg on SELENITE CRYSTAL | Annie Nocenti on MINIATURE DICE | Wayne Curtis on CLOCK WINDING KEY | & 20 MORE.
POLITICAL OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Luc Sante on CAMPAIGN PAMPHLETS | Lydia Millet on PVC POLAR BEAR | Ben Greenman on MATCHBOX CAR | Rob Baedeker on PRESIDENTS PLACEMAT | L.A. Kauffman on WHEATPASTE POSTER | & 20 MORE.
ALSO SEE: PROJECT:OBJECT homepage | POLITICAL OBJECTS (1Q2017) | TALISMANIC OBJECTS (2Q2017) | ILLICIT OBJECTS (3Q2017) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 1 (4Q2017) | FLAIR (2Q2018) | FOSSILS (4Q2018) | FETISHES (2Q2019) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 2 (4Q2019) | MOVIE OBJECTS (2Q2020) | SEMIO OBJECTS (2Q2021) | SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS (cross-posted from Significant Objects website). ALSO SEE: SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS website | LOST OBJECTS (Hat & Beard Press, 2022) | SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS collection, ed. Rob Walker and Josh Glenn (Fantagraphics, 2012) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY, ed. Josh Glenn (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY excerpts.