Greenfield, Mass., circa 1992. Leonard S. Kramer wore spectacles and black sweatpants with elastic ribbing at the ankles, and smooth trouser socks tucked up beneath the elastic, and a pair of brown loafers that were losing their rubber tread, the bottoms turning smooth and slippery, a sign that they would soon need replacing. But Leonard was not thinking about his loafers. Leonard was imparting a Very Important Lesson to the younger of his progeny, Mattea, nine years old, clad in purple-and-black striped leggings and high-top sneakers and presently standing with her arms crossed, watching her father. Leonard, who was six-foot-nothing when upright and of broad shoulders, was bent over the bathroom fixture, clutching a white plastic brush—somewhat discolored at its southern bristles—and was gesturing with it as he spoke. Cleaning the toilet was to be done in two parts, he explained, and it therefore required a certain degree of patience on the part of the individual tasked with the responsibility.
“First you sprinkle in the cleaning product, like so.” Leonard had transferred the brush to his left hand and was shaking the golden Bon Ami canister with his right, such that the powder snowed and collected on the surface of the toilet water.
“Then you scrub thoroughly. I would say a full sixty seconds, at least.” He demonstrated, vigorously working the brush around the bowl and, insofar as he could get the implement in there, its outbound tunnel, as the cleaning agent turned the water frothy and clouded.
“Now here’s the most important part!” Leonard extracted the brush and held it dripping over the bowl as he depressed the metal lever and the tank rumbled, releasing its liquid contents into the plumbing and filling the thing with a fresh drink.
“Now we look. Did we miss a spot?”
“See there? It’s hard to get.” There was yet a brown smudge at the opening of the exit shaft. He added more white powder. Once again he pressed and scoured with the brush. Dots of perspiration had begun to prickle on his reddish forehead. “And now? Look, all clean. That’s why the two parts. Scrub. Flush. Look. Then scrub again. You see?”
“Yeah Dad I see.”
“Excellent! Now it’s your job. Every Sunday.”