Shower Curtains: The Next Generation

A sinking grimace overtook my face at the sight of the torn-out grommet in one of our year-old, $45 Martha Stewart shower curtains. When we bought them last year, these curtains seemed to be the next generation in shower curtains. They have very large grommets, and they slip over simple hooks that don’t require grip strength above 60 kg to squeeze them open and closed every time the curtains are removed and rehung. But this machine washable curtain emerged this time from the washer with a shredded grommet, the end one, limiting its utility to near null.

I hated the prospect of going to Macy’s for a $45 replacement, but we bought them the first time because there seemed no practicable alternative. But I thought large grommets might be more commonplace now than they were a year ago, so I decided to brave Wal-Mart first.

I strode into Wal-Mart, taking no cart — I was here for one thing — with an uncharacteristic assurance of victory. And indeed, I encountered a new generation of shower curtain: one with large rubber grommets designed to hang directly over the shower rod without hooks. Hookless hanging seemed a decided improvement over the Martha Stewart model designed for hooks that suspend precariously over the rod, often jump off the rod when the curtain is drawn, and catch on the sleeves at the rod’s extension joints. The rubber grommets solve all these problems. The curtain is easy to install and easy to remove, but one doesn’t need to remove it often, because the new curtain is not machine washable like the Martha Stewart curtain, but designed simply to be wiped clean with a damp cloth. The new curtain is not PVC, and has no chemical smell.

The new-generation curtain cost $15. It’s hard to beat low-maintenance competence costing two thirds less. Put it this way: I resent investing three times more to beta test something less competent. Brand means nothing to me. When it comes to shower curtains, I admit, elegance is optional, function is everything. To borrow the Bauhaus mantra, form follows function. Therefore, a pleasing form attends a pleasingly functional shower curtain.

It’s a whole new era out there every time I shop for shower curtains. And how happy I am when my observations of how the world works are compassed in the prosaic realm.

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