Originally Posted: 2006-12-24 9:00am
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Dear Phytophthora Mold Growing in My Shower Stall,

(Actually, while the Phytophthora may technically be your correct name, may I just call you "Mold"? After all, you've seen me naked.)

Mold, we have been living together now for quite some time and I think its fair to say that we have had a stable, but adversarial relationship. I kill you, you grow back. I kill you again, you grow back again. I kill you yet again, you grow back, and so on.

For the most part things have proceeded along these lines quite nicely. I don't spend too much time killing you and you don't grow back too quickly. We had reached a state of equilibrium.

Oh sure, my methods of getting rid of you have varied over the years, I remember the early days when the weapon of choice was Windex and paper towels, which as you know is the traditional male method for dealing with any and all cleaning jobs ranging from spilled soda to cleaning-up a major crime scene involving disembowelment and ritual sacrifice.

I used to believe that if you can't clean it with Windex and paper towels then you're just not using enough Windex and paper towels. If a particular stain proved especially difficult I'd use name-brand Windex and not the store brand.

That just how I was raised, God Bless America.

And for the most part things progressed along these lines quite nicely, and by that I mean the shower stall got clean enough to keep Mrs. Soap Box happy and I didn't feel the need to take a shower when I was taking my shower, if you know what I mean.

Now Mold, I have always understood your need and desire to grow and exist, and I'm pretty sure you're aware that I will do whatever I need to do you kill you so long as it does not require any real effort on my part whatsoever. I'm dedicated, but lazy.

But lately something has changed, YOU have changed. Whereas before you would retreat in horror and disappear after one of my cleaning attacks, lately it seems you have grown stronger. You have found the strength to gain a foot-hold at the bottom left corner of the shower stall. I've scrubbed and scrubbed, but yet you remain.

Perhaps my friend, you have grown weary of our battle and are putting all your efforts into one last fight for shower stall superiority. Or perhaps you sense some weakness on my part and feel the time is right to lead an all-out frontal assault and chase me to the spare bathroom where the water pressure is less than adequate. But either way, only a fool couldn't see that your strategy to seize the bottom left corner of my shower stall is working.

I must also admit that you have forced me to go deeper into my arsenal of weapons - deeper that I ever feared would be necessary. Beyond what even Windex and paper towels can accomplish.

First, I started off by looking at you while I showered and thinking "Got to do something about that mold at some point." This, like all peaceful means failed miserably.

Next, I brought out the big boy, the big gun, the peace maker. Name-brand Windex and Brawny paper towels. I sprayed and wiped, wiped and sprayed, sprayed and wiped. This battle went on for literally seconds, yet you remained. Possessing a short attention span and strong desire to be doing something else, I declared "mission accomplished" and watched a 3 hour marathon of "Ghost Hunters" on the Sci-Fi channel.

I spent the next 2 weeks listening to Mrs. Soap Box saying things like "The mold is back in the shower". Now since I already knew that the mold had returned I found her repeated statement of the obvious to be somewhat perplexing.

Only later did I learn that I was supposed to interpret this as a request to return to battle. Who knew? I was always taught that questions ended with your voice going up at the end and included the word "please", as in "Would you please stop watching "Ghost Hunters" and clean the shower?"

So back to the front! Seeing as how my name-brand Windex solution had proved ineffective, I was forced to improvise and decided to try Oven-Off. If it can remove old baked on macaroni and cheese which has dried to the consistency of cement, then how can it fail to get rid of YOU Mr. Mold?

Well, while the tile shined like never before, it appears that Oven-Off too has failed, since you remain firmly entrenched in the grout.

Now I sense that you grow stronger with each of my failed efforts. In fact, I'm pretty sure I heard you laughing at me while I showered. Not the first time I have been laughed at in the shower, but still, it hurt.

And then an idea pops into my head! Windex contains ammonia, and I know that a lot of other cleaning products contain ammonia, so ammonia MUST be a great cleaner. But the stuff you get at the store is probably watered down, little-girl ammonia like the kind they use to make the "special sauce" at certain national burger places.

No, I need full-strength ammonia from a reliable production source who isn't out to make a quick buck by selling the cheap stuff to an unsuspecting public.

Then it hit me! Urine! Urine contains ammonia! And while I've never been tested, I'm pretty sure that my ammonia production is A-1, prime stuff - PURE! All I have to do is pee on the mold for a week or so with my home-made “super ammonia” and nature will work its magic. Good bye mold!

At least that was the theory.

You see, Mrs. Soap Box decided that my idea was "gross" and that peeing on the shower wall does not constitute "cleaning" and would not in fact lead to a cleaner shower. I said, "But look at the toilets. They're always clean and I pee in there all the time!" Mrs. Soap Box then gently reminded me that cleaning toilets was her job and that's why they're clean.

Now while I was mentally wrestling with whether or not to inform Mrs. Soap Box that I had in fact – although unwittingly – been covertly participating in “Operation Urine” with regard to the shower floor each morning and that we would merely be changing our trajectory, Mr. Soap Box made it quite clear that "Operation Urine" was scrubbed for a more conventional strategy.

This is getting like the Korean War, everyone back home wants me to win, but won't let me do what is necessary to achieve victory.

Now while the “official” answer was "I don't want you pissing on the shower wall and telling me that you've done your part to clean the bathroom" I think the real answer is that she was just jealous.

Jealous that if "Operation Urine" worked, she wouldn't be able to keep her things as clean as I could keep my things clean because she lacks aim. Not her fault, but unless the stain is on the floor directly beneath her and no one is looking and there is no noise and the faucet is running, and I swear to God that I’m not peeking (although I am) then she has no hope of getting her homemade ammonia to where its needed – while she has the weapon, she lacks a reliable delivery system.

I also think she was afraid that my things would be home-made ammonia-clean and that her things would get grimier by the day while she pathetically peed all over herself in an attempt to clean her half of the house.

I would be the hero, the guy they call in when something needs to be peed on and cleaned. I would get all the glory and she would have to live in my urine soaked shadow.

So for her own selfish reasons she killed "Operation Urine", she's spiteful like that.

OK since "Operation Urine" was off the table, I was down to the bottom of the barrel, I had to take desperate action. There was no doubt about it, I would have to do the one thing I have always avoided. I'm going to have to use elbow-grease. Yup, going to actually scrub.

You've pissed me off now Mold, this is now requiring EFFORT!

So I moved up a notch on the guy cleaning ladder and got myself an SOS pad. Hard steel wool and powdery blue stuff - this is the kind of cleaning grandma used to do!

So I start scrubbing with the SOS pad but from the start its clear that the mission is doomed. Now in addition to mold, my grout is blue from the SOS pad and the tile looks sort of scratched. "Operation Urine" would never have ended in disgrace like this!!

So I decide "Screw it, I'm going nuclear." I going to get ALL the cleaning fluids in the house, Windex, Oven-Off, Tile X, bleach - all of them - and hit you with everything I got all at once. I pour it all on and I scrub, and I scrub - I scrub like the wind!

Of course, the doctor said that the fumes from all those chemicals mixed together is what probably caused me to pass out hit my head on the toilet and lose control of various bodily functions.

Now I don't want to go into too much detail about the loss of bodily functions, but lets just say that had "Operation Urine" not been scrubbed by the brass back at headquarters, it would have been a complete success, for when those blue jeans came out of the washing machine the next day they were like new!

So I stand here before you now a defeated man looking over the battle field where his hopes were dashed and I can see that you have won. Mold, you remain firmly entrenched in the lower left corner of my shower stall.

I am beaten and my only viable option is to try and make the best deal possible, so in my own Neville Chamberline-like way I offer to give you the bottom left of the shower stall permanently and in exchange I won't regrout the shower in any further attempt to kill you.

You may occupy the space up and including to the 4th tile from the floor and up to and including the 3rd tile in from the corner. That space is yours now, you may rest easy on your side of the border. The war is over.

I’m not sure how I’ll sell this back home, how to make Mrs. Soap Box understand that appeasement is our only option. I’ll probably do what I always do, tell her I need a special tool and that I’ll get to it “tomorrow”. Side note – this can often be an effective strategy as witnessed by those rolls of wallpaper I was supposed to hang several years ago. “Need a special wallpaper tool honey, I’ll get it tomorrow!”

You know Mold, now that the battle is over, I can see you and I are not so different after all. Neither of us gains energy through photosynthesis, and we both enjoy warm, dark, moist places.

So live in peace my slimy friend, and in the future, if I happen to pee on you, take no offense, my aim in the morning isn't that great.

Yours truly,

Soap Box

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