The bathrooms in our house came equipped with builder’s-special everything: vanity, fixtures, mirrors, lights. It’s all at a level of blandness that I assumed I would waste no time in altering, even if this meant just slapping some paint on the oak-esque vanities, replacing the giant plate glass mirrors with something framed on a human scale and — especially — taking down the row of softball sized lights marching across the top of the mirror like a bunch of rotund showgirls. Garish, out-dated and blindingly bright, this style of lighting is appropriately known as “Hollywood Lights”, and is stocked on the ample shelves of every Home Depot and Lowe’s across America, with a popularity perpetuated by all the millions of building contractors who scoop them up by the truck-full, spreading them far and wide, the Johnny Appleseeds of bad lighting.
But here’s the thing: I have no idea what to replace those lights with. With a budget of approximately 52 cents, I’ve scoured various sources off and on for bathroom lighting over the last few years and each option looks worse than the last. Now here I am, six years after moving into this house with bathrooms that still look like the backstage dressing room of a sad sack circus performer. Or at least this is how the lights in the bathroom used to look to me. As I searched for their longed-for replacement, somewhere along the way my Hollywood lighting started to look well, okay. Like a thirty-something-year-old with a few kids who finally caves into the minivan, I’ve decided that function over form is sometimes an acceptable trade-off.
There is still a fantasy element involved however. Sometimes,when I’m looking deep into the mirror, staring at my itemized, well-lit pores, I imagine, for a little moment, that my life matches my bathroom lighting. Not in the sense of a middling do-it-yourself decorator only being able to afford the crummy off-the-shelf lights from Home Depot. No, my life matches my bathroom lighting in the sense that I am a star who deserves to be framed in lights, my greatness illuminated each and every night, just after I walk off the stage of my middle class life.