Saturday, May 30, 2009

The magic appeal of showers

Several weeks ago, I began something called "Adventures in Grooming". Then, like any kind of personal grooming task that takes time out of my precious day, I promptly abandoned it and went about my merry way. That's just me.

But since I am also the kind of person for whom once something is undertaken and abandoned, it will nag at me like a tiny mosquito, I have decided to jump right back in. Prompted, at least in part, because of a conversation I witnessed two weeks ago.

Two weeks ago, I was babysitting for my nieces. I arrived a bit early while my brother was still getting ready to go out. His wife said "Phew! You need to take a shower!" to which he reported "I know. I am. It's my third shower of the day." HIS THIRD SHOWER OF THE DAY. Then, my 10 year old niece came dancing in from outside and her mother told her that she needed to take a shower before going to bed. "Ok" she said. She turned to me and said "That will be my second shower of the day." HER SECOND SHOWER OF THE DAY AT AGE TEN. That is a family of four. They take --what -- 27 showers per day?

I'm not sure if any other country in the world is as obsessed with showers as we are in America. While I am a big fan of showering, I do feel that we take far too many of them. And we perceive showers as having far more power than they actual do.

For instance, there's the I-need-a-shower-to-wake-up-in-the-morning-shower. If somebody likes taking a shower in the morning, it makes them feel good, makes them smile more at their co-workers, then by all means, that somebody should take one. But they should stop using the word NEED. If their shower were to suddenly stop working I'm pretty confident that they'd wake up nonetheless. If it were difficult, they'd grab some coffee or other caffeinated beverage and bop off to work, grumbling all the way.

I know this to be true. I don't shower in the morning. I shower at night, after the gym, and go to bed with wet hair, waking up on a still damp pillow and shaking dreams of wrestling with SpongeBob out of my head. This may be directly related to my unsuccessful fight to end my caffeine addiction. But I can assure you, I do make it work every day morning shower-free.

Don't get me wrong -- the morning showers don't bother me per se. But I know many people who, like me, to to the gym after work and shower before bed. Only to get up in the morning and take another shower in the morning. Exactly WHAT are these people doing at night that makes them awake so grime covered and dirty that they need another shower before venturing out of the house? Or then, there are those who take it one step further: shower in the morning, shower after work, and shower after exercising. Maybe they need to see an endocrinologist instead.

I mean, I completely understand that sometimes we take showers for reasons other than getting clean. Just yesterday when I was simultaneously assaulted by allergies and a cold, I used the magical properties of shower to loosen the deep rattling in my chest so that I could --you know-breathe. And after a couple long training runs in 26 degree weather, the shower was less for rinsing sweat away and more for returning feeling to my hands and feet. (I was kind of like Luke Skywalker after Han Solo rescued him from that abominable snowman thing in The Empire Strikes Back and they put him in a big plastic water tank with an aqua-lung so as to rise his core body temperature? You know -- like that.) That wasn't the best shower of my life, though.

The best shower of my life was after a 15 day backpacking trip with Outward Bound. It was great. (The backpacking, not the shower. Though that was great, too)Fifteen days of backpacking around the desert in Utah. When I returned to the hotel after that great adventure, I basically dragged my red-dust covered ass into the bathroom and showered until the water ran clear. It was like being reborn!

I have friends who say: "I couldn't do that. I HAVE to have a shower EVERY day." I was backpacking around the desert! There was no water. "Oh, I'd FIND water!" they'd reply. I did find water. We used the water we found to fill our canteens so we could drink. "Oh, I'd FIND a way to shower." Really? Rolling around in a tiny, muddy, puddle? That sounds fantastic. "Oh, I'd do something." Give it up, man. There is no showering on backpacking trips in the desert. But there is the one wonderful shower at the end.

When I worked on the spinal cord unit, I had a patient tell me about the weird experience of taking his first shower after breaking his neck. "It was so weird...I couldn't feel the water below my shoulders. It took me a while to figure out that it also felt really good. So I just stayed in the shower for a long long time" He stayed there until one of the nurses came in and said "Hey! Stop hogging all the hot water! Leave some for everyone else."

I think that's great advice for us all.


Heather said...

I'm a once-a-dayer. If I shower at night, I sleep in a little in the morning. I don't get the excessive showering thing either.
And trying to find a shower in the desert?! Really? Who even thinks that way?

Diane said...

Yeah, we're alike. I love when I go camping and don't shower for a couple of days... I'm hot and sticky and seriously grimy... and then THAT shower, hot OR cold (depending on where we're camping) feels like HEAVEN! People who shower 3 times a day can't possibly know how good that feels.

Anonymous said...

My skin is oily. Really oily. It's not uncommon for me to shower twice a day, in the morning and after the gym (or sometimes not after the gym). What do I do all night that requires a second shower? I generate enough oil to lube a car. Imagine what I'm like after a few days camping.

I think that's why my biggest annoyance is that 90% of shampoos are for dry scalp, but I'm hard pressed to find something for oily hair...