Saturday, September 3, 2011

An Hour in the Shower!

Every Saturday night the galvanized steel bathtub was dragged across the linoleum floor in the kitchen to its usual central spot. The water had been heated and stood waiting in its wooden-handled, copper boiler on the wood-burning stove. After being mixed with some cold water in the tub, the swift bathing sequence began. In retrospect, I am not sure why the youngest, having the least bladder control, went first. Even then I disliked the idea of lying back in the tub to get my hair washed. There was no draining of the tub for fresh water after each bather, as we had no indoor plumbing, except for a cold water spigot in the kitchen. Hot water was added to the tub as needed until the family bath night was finished and the water emptied outside.
Perhaps that is why I never saw the attraction to taking a bath. It had never been a leisurely, relaxing activity when I was young even after no longer sharing the bath water with my whole family. I could easily do without a bathtub in the house at all. The idea of luxuriating for an hour in a bath seems like a curious custom to me. Steeping like a human teabag in tepid water, struggling to wash all available body parts and then remaining seated in the soiled water developing the wrinkles of Yoda all the while attempting to read some soon to be sodden paperback novel. Now really!
Showers have almost entirely displaced the taking of baths, at least in North America. Whether or not it uses less water may remain debatable, but showers are unarguably more convenient, faster and safer than a bath. Besides which, you stay wrinkle free in the shower.
I was thinking about the differences between them this morning when a longing to remain for an hour in the shower came over me. Just imagine standing cross-armed, the tingling, totally relaxing warm water massaging your back and neck while you ponder ideas that only seem to occur to you in the privacy of that cubicle.  Maybe it was up form of escapism from the busy day that lay ahead. But it quickly faded and responsibility took over. Given that I enjoy a very hot shower, it would drain the hot water tank, leaving angry cohabitants of my household, as well as a carbon footprint the size of the Grand Canyon. However, the idea of an hour in the shower mirage-like vanished as I realized I can't, don't, or won't take time for an hour-long drenching in the shower. Ironically, that peaceful prospect fell victim to the frenetic lifestyle in the same way as did the unhurried bath.
The frantic pace of living, like being caught in some perpetual rush hour, leaves little opportunity to pull over, turn off the motor, park for a while and just think deeply. Gaining perspective and privacy away from the maddening crowd seems too much to ask for. Even seeking after it may have largely disappeared in the onslaught of distraction as I commented recently.
Like some bygone customs that recycle through history, maybe the idea of a long, laid-back soak in the tub deserves reconsideration. Almost countercultural. Of course, I would have to forgo the book-reading, as I couldn't hold it still enough. And I suspect I would be tempted to nap in the warmth of the steamy bath. But as long as I could avoid the memories of being plunked into the soapy water of that metal bathtub in the kitchen, I think it might be enjoyable. Maybe better than an hour in the shower.


  1. Very good, love the human teabag analogy. :)

  2. Hi Bob:
    It was great seeing you at the highschool reunion and meeting your wonderful wife.
    When I read your Facebook page I was surprised to discover that you have Parkinsons - it doesn't show.
    About nine years ago I was reading Michael J. Fox's book in bed and I jumped out of the bed when it hit me, "My father has Parkinsons!" What really tipped me off was the tiny writing and the quiet voice. Dad was 80 at the time and sure enough he does have Parkinsons. His brother, who is younger by 10 years, was diagnosed with Parkinsons soon after. Their mother also had Parkinsons. According to the neurologist, Parkinsons is not hereditary. Of course, it could have been an environmental toxin but... My sisters and I are caregivers for my Dad, each doing two twelve hours shifts per week. We are very happy to be instrumental in keeping our parents in their own home.
    I enjoyed reading your blog. You have a flair for writing and I sincerely hope that you have a book in progress.
    Talk to you later,