My bathtub is named Max. Well, technically MAAX. Which isn’t a problem until you know that a very old ex-boyfriend of mine is also named Max. And the idea of taking a nice long soak in a warm bubble bath, in the bathroom of my first ever 1-bedroom apartment, in a bathtub named Maax, is not a pleasant one.

I noticed Maax when I was peeing, yesterday. I was sitting on the toilet, deep in the midst of what I like to call a “bathroom scan. ” This is the time in my day that I get to simultaneously relieve my bladder and scan the tiles and floors in order to take mental notes about which areas need tidying. It’s one of my best multi-tasking techniques. Especially because, from the advantageous perspective of the porcelain pot, I get a fairly intimate view of the bathroom including seeing it the way guests or visitors would see it. “Oh, just look at that dust piling up in the cocking of the bathtub!” 

“I wonder if that’s hairspray or gel that’s dripping down the side of the cabinet?” they might think during my next dinner party. That kind of thing. The bathroom scan is a habit that I indirectly learned from my mother. My mom was a big fan of the power of books (or other bathroom literature) in the art of making a poop. Her philosophy was that the act of reading text—like a book, but more frequently the back of the sunblock label—could coerce a stubborn turd out of hiding. And I have to break it to her, the trick works. Even the trickiest poops are a breeze when accompanied by the mental pronunciations of oxybenzone and titanium oxide. But now, as an adult, I feel like I have this unreasonable desire to read things and look for things while I use the WC. Hence the scan. “Honey, did you remember to swap out the sunblock for the Clorox spray under the sink? I’m needing some new reading material,” is a sentence a fear I might say when I’m 42. The stronger republican letter writing paper majorities could make such an expansion easier to pass, though moderates in the party may object. But back to Maax. There he was, standing there as proudly as a branded bathtub can be, when my eyes scanned his name and lurched into a sudden scowl. “Maax?” I said. “Seriously?”

The bathtub said nothing. Didn’t even make a gesture in acknowledgement that I just called it by its name. I dropped my glance, further furrowed my brow, and put the pressure on like an attorney meeting the final witness on the stand. “What exactly do you think you’re doing here?”

He pleaded the 5th. “Fine,” I said, pulling out a stretch of toilet paper and ripping a section off. “Don’t talk to me! You haven’t for years and now’s certainly not the time to get started. I just moved across the country. I just put the largest deposit on the most expensive apartment I’ve ever rented. And it’s mine, MINE! I have a job that means something to me. And I’m not really eager to see you showing up in my bathroom either!”

I stood up in a huff, maddened by the fact that some relic of an old boyfriend had somehow made it into my new home. I flushed and cast a grimacing glance backwards at the tub through the mirror. But just as I was about to continue my rant, I noticed something. With a pause, I tilted my head first to one side. And then to the other. And read the tiny scribble again. Now, with the little letters appearing in the reflection of the mirrored glass, the letters M-A-A-X became X-A-A-M. XAAM. Not Maax. Xaam!, probably a warrior princess of some sort from the 15th century. Xaam!, likely the long forgotten Incan princess that ruled parts of Mesopotamia. Yes, as true as the reflection in front of me, I realized that I had misread her name, and there in Maax’s place was Xaam standing in the classy porcelain elegance. I blushed a little, embarrassed, and looked back at my frazzled self in the mirror.  It’s important to recognize that moments of reflection (whether mirror-induced or otherwise) often provide clarity.

I dried my hands, flipped the switch, headed to the kitchen, and made a a silent promise to never date a man named Kenmore as I started a flame for tea.