It came as something as a surprise to find the new caulk getting moldy and mildewed six weeks later. Some investigation revealed that the old stuff (all mildewed already) was still there, just hidden under the new stuff. Being as how I was putting together a thesis proposal at the time, I just sighed and put it off until later.
Fast forward two and a half years. It's been looking pretty awful for a while now. It's a nice day out, and I've been feeling like getting things done, so I stopped at the hardware store on the way home and spent $20 on various supplies. As long as I was planning on doing major work in the bathroom, I figured I might as well take the tub apart and clear out the drain once and for all. Mission accomplished. It turns out that we don't need a stopper for our drain so much as we need a hairtrap. Luckily, now that I know this I can fix it. Then I rolled up my sleeves and stripped out the old icky caulk. (Well, most of it. I'd have to completely disassemble the bathroom, including the tile on the wall, to get all of it.) Then I put the new caulk in. Then I did my level best to clean up the surfaces surrounding where I actually wanted it to be. Then I spent 40 minutes washing off all the *other* places it had gotten to, including my pants. The bathroom looks much better. While some parts of the caulk will inevitably mildew no matter what I do, the majority of it will last for a long time. I figure this has to count toward my Guy Merit Badge along with rigging up a flying buttress for the Nordictrack out of an extra ski and two fireproof safes.
I am also convinced that the people who apply caulk as a regular part of their jobs are at least part wizard. My previous standard for annoying goo was superglue (cyanoacrylate) and epoxy. Superglue is at least courteous enough to set right now and is quite innocent after that as long as you haven't glued your eyelids to your elbow. Epoxy is gooey and sticky and annoying but comes off fairly easily. Both of these have now been eclipsed by bathroom caulk. It's gooey and sticky and annoying. It's also semi-fluid, so trying to wipe it off (a) just smears it around some more and (b) gets some of it on whatever you're trying to wipe it off with. If you use a damp towel instead of a dry one when you try to wipe it up, you wind up with a much thinner layer of it spread over a much wider area. I managed to get it pretty well localized, and instead of doing further battle with it I'm just going to wait until it cures and then take it off with a putty knife. Back to my point: the people who do this for a living must be wizards of some sort.
With any luck the rest of the day will be nice and quiet. I could sure use more of that.