His and Her Sinks
So we’re watching It’s Complicated the other night, and I got thinking about Meryl Streep’s career. It’s funny that when she first became famous it was for Dramatic Roles in Serious Movies about divorce and the Holocaust. Members of my generation think of her as the singing matron of a Greek resort, or a masochistic fashion mag editor, or, her greatest role, the little girl Jessica Lovejoy on The Simpsons. She once complained that there were no parts for older actresses, but that was before her career renaissance: now there are no parts for older actresses because Meryl gets all of them.
I love Meryl, of course, but I do worry about her tendency to make all her characters sympathetic. We ended up rooting for Miranda Priestly, the uber-bitch, and she made her Sister Aloysius in Doubt, a character written as the strict nun to out-glare all the others, fidgety and funny. A real actor shouldn’t be afraid of being unlikeable to the audience, especially one who gets nominated for Oscars just for showing up.
Many (male) reviewers mocked It’s Complicated as escapist fare for women because of Meryl’s perfect catalogue house, perfect catalogue job and perfect catalogue kids. And, of course, that pissed me off, because action movies never get called escapist fare for men. They are just action movies and their unrealistic plots, slick cars, buxom blonde scientist sidekicks and screens filled with billowing orange fire are simply taken for granted as part of the genre. But a romantic comedy with charming interiors and shots of tantalizing food, ridiculous!
Anyways, when Meryl is explaining her home renovations to architect and future-love-interest Steve Martin she explains that she doesn’t need the ‘his and her’ sinks because she’s currently single with two sinks and the second one makes her sad.
“What’s this now?” I exclaimed. “I get that that means having two sinks side by side, but is that common?”
“Yup, it’s a standard feature in bathrooms now,” Dervla informed me. “Everyone thinks they need the two sinks.”
That is some fucked up shit.
First of all, labelling two sinks side by side ‘his and hers’ reeks of heterosexism, and you know that there’ll be plenty of gay couples who want them, with mirrors encircled with dressing room lights. And second of all, why do you need two sinks! I get that sinks can feel crowded when there’s two people using them, but are you really brushing your teeth with your partner every night? It’s not really a group activity. And shaving or examining your pimples in the morning? Isn’t there some things you still don’t want your partner seeing? What about romance?
And speaking of romance, isn’t it kind of fun being crowded over the sink together, working out a little dance to avoid stepping on toes or spitting mouthwash unto the back of your lover’s head? I haven’t been married, so it’s possible that that’s only sexy and fun when you’re first together, and two separate sinks so that you can simultaneously wash your hands prevents a lot of married people fights.
It will be fun to explain to our grandchildren, when asked about what life was like before the Third World War, and the melted icecaps turned coastal cities into aquariums, that at one point in the Before Time married couples thought they needed two bathroom sinks. (“And that’s when we still had water in its liquid form, not the canned gas you use every day!”)
And what about Meryl’s concern, that a second sink would depress a single person? Half of the couples buying these prefab houses with ‘his and her’ sinks will divorce. I know that I would be sad every time I looked at that unused sink and pictured my ex standing over it. Or, if I was angry, I would use it for soaking my socks.
You gotta hand it to Meryl: she thinks of everything.