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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Musings From the Porcelain Cathedral (No, Dammit, the Other One!)

Apparently my insolence will be tolerated.

Today, I’d like to talk about my showers.

Okay, not all about my showers; this isn’t that kind of blog.

(And you can thank your lucky undies that this isn’t a photo blog, while you’re at it.)

So stick with me here. I won’t promise that I’m not going to gross you out, but… well, I’ll at least ease you into it, okay? I’ll begin with the basics, and work my way down the scale into the things that aren’t to be mentioned in polite society. Deal? Deal.

So, first I should probably mention that I’m a top-downer.

(See? I’m not making any lewd comment or turning that into some sort of Kama Sutra reference or ass-slapping joke. See how good I can be, even if it’s killing me?)

What I mean is that I start with my hair, and generally work my way down my body.

When I’m washing in the shower, that is. That sort of order doesn’t really work for much of anything else, except maybe getting sweaty with your main squeeze. After all, ‘The first base is connected to the — second base. And second base is connected to the — third base…‘ You get the idea.

But that’s about it, and even then, you don’t finish with the feet, now, do you? Sure, if you’re into that sort of thing, you might start with the feet, but if it’s uglies you’re looking to bump, you’re generally going to find them somewhere in the middle of the body. At least, that’s where the ‘bumping’ ones will be. You may run into other ugly bits on the body, of course, but you’re probably not going to get anywhere by bumping with those. I tell you this from years of experience. Don’t make the same mistakes that I made.

(Or risk the same lawsuits.)

Anyway, I wash myself from the top downward. First, I shampoo my hair, or ‘lather‘. Then I wash it out, or ‘rinse‘. I do not, however, ‘repeat‘. Life’s too short to be standing in the shower all fucking day with my eyes smooshed shut. Besides, I’m not filthying up my hair by swimming in a pool or standing under an oil rig all day. So once is enough.

When I’m done rinsing — but not repeating — I dry my hair just a bit with a washcloth. I figure I’m gonna need my eyes for most of the rest of the procedure, so I should nip the drips from above in the bud. A few shakes through the follicles usually does the trick. Next, I lather up the washcloth and give my face a good scrubbing. This achieves the obvious goal of cleaning any dirt from my facial region, while also applying soap to the skin around my eyes, again rendering me effectively blind. In other words, completely negating all that work I just went through to dry my hair. I realize this, and yet I do not alter the routine, washing my face later or bothering to rinse the soap from my eyes. I am, of course, a moron.

(In my defense, I usually shower within a few minutes of waking up, and my mind is a notoriously slow starter. In stark contrast to certain other bits, which often seem all too eager to, ahem, ‘rise and shine’ in the morning. But no one wants to hear about my, uh, thumbs. Um, yeah. Moving right along.)

So, from there, I work by touch. Armpits and arms, chest and back, legs and feet. Then there’s the middle bits. I save those for last. Not because I have special plans for them or anything. (Usually.)

It’s just that none of the other parts of the body like to be washed after the cloth has delved into the ‘Underwear Zone’. So those areas get taken care of at the end of the process.

And that’s pretty much it — I rinse off, towel down (again, from top to bottom), and I declare myself clean for the day. Pretty standard stuff, really. Sure, some people shampoo last, or do some special thing to their face, but the routine isn’t all that earthshattering. But it’s the other things that happen in the shower that make it really interesting. Things like what, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. All you have to do is ask, you know.

First of all, I do a lot of thinking in the shower. Not the deep, heavy-lifting sort of thinking, mind you. Nothing useful like that. No, instead, I have weird, convoluted trains of thought. Frightening, sometimes. There’s something about being naked and warm and wet and half-asleep that brings out the bizarre side of me, I guess. I must have been a crazy son of a bitch in the womb.

(Yeah, not like when I’m blogging. Whee.)

Anyway, I’ll give you an example. I had a now-forgotten series of thoughts yesterday in the shower that culminated in one question, and it was this:

If someone were to put a gun to my head and demand that I sing one song without getting a single word wrong, what song would I choose to sing?

Now, first of all, who the fuck has thoughts like that? And — since the answer to that question is rather obvious — why did I have that thought, and how the hell did I get there? (And if you thought my schizophrenic topic-jumping was confined to my writing, you’ve got me all wrong, bub. I actually edit for you people; try living in my brain sometime.)

But more to the point — what song would it be, anyway? I mean, if I’m going to bother to dream up such an oddball question, I might as well answer it, right? So I stood there in the water a while, and eventually decided on ‘Waitress in the Sky‘ by the Replacemnts. It’s short, the words are all clear, and I know it by heart, which are all prerequisites, of course. If I went ‘um‘ing and ‘er‘ing or mumbling through a bridge, I was gonna get my brains blown out.

(Hypothetically speaking, of course.)

So, I stood there for another couple of minutes, water sliding off my back, and softly sang it. You know, to see how I’d fare with this imaginary and strangely demented gunman. And, of course, I mis-sang one bit, garbling the ‘garbage man, janitor, and you my dear‘ line. Which disappointed me no end, of course, seeing as how I’d hypthetically just had my head splattered all over the shower wall. Bitches. Still, I did get through the song without forgetting any words; I just have to hope I’d be able to keep calmer if the real situation were to ever come up. Which it won’t, because it’s ridiculously stupid. But, you know, if it did.

(Hey, while I’m here, why not drag you nice folks into my shower, as well? Still speaking proverbially, of course. But what song would you pick? In my little world, I decided that it couldn’t be a fairy tale, or old folk song, or anything like that. It had to be a song by a modern band or singer, with real words (no instrumentals or sample-only tracks), and should have at least a couple of verses. So what would it be? What song could you recite verbatim, under pressure, without a single misstep? And after you pick one, can you really do it? Sing it to yourself out loud and see whether you’d survive this little test. Enquiring minds have nothing better to do right now.)

Anyway, that’s the kind of thing that randomly strikes me in the shower. But there are also some rather non-random thoughts that arise, as well. And the most common by far is, ‘Shit, I don’t have a clean towel or washcloth, do I?‘ How to get around this little pickle? Well, assuming that the initial assessment is correct, and I don’t have any clean towelage, I’ve got three options.

  • If I’ve just stepped into the shower, and I’m not yet soaked, I can turn the water off, stamp my feet to dry them, and trudge the twenty yards or so down the hall to the towel shelves. I’d then grab a towel and washcloth, and try not to kill myself by slipping in the wet footprints I’ve just left all over the floor.
  • I can ignore the problem, washing myself with just my hands, and air-dry after my shower. While this does have the advantage of maximizing my ‘naked time’, it also gets pretty boring standing in the tub with nothing to do for an hour and a half.
  • If there are dirty washcloths and towels in the bathroom, I can swallow my pride and use those. This actually represents four options, since for both the towel and cloth, I may have the choice of using one of my used items, or my wife’s used items.

Now, none of these options are good ones. I’ve tried them all at one point or another, and not one of them is pretty. But I have to say, the third choice is the one I keep coming back to, and the one I’d recommend. I’ll tell you why.

First of all , you have to buy into an important concept. And I mean buy in; don’t just pay it lip service. Believe it. You must believe in the power of ‘The Other Side‘. As in, ‘The Other Side‘ of the towel or washcloth. This is an absolute necessity if you’re going to recycle a used towel. See, you must believe that whatever funky, nasty, disgusting thing that might have been deposited on that hunk of fabric is safely tucked away on ‘The Other Side‘.

So as you bring that towel to your face, and you think:

Hey, didn’t I wipe my nasty underarms on this thing yesterday?

You’ll always have this comforting answer:

Well, yeah. But that’s not on this side of the towel. I wiped them on The Other Side.

Or if you hesitate to rub that washcloth all over your body, remembering:

Whoa, this thing was picking my ass just this morning!

You can remind yourself:

Ah, but not the side I’m using now. That was The Other Side!

You can see how powerful this simple trick can be. Practice it well enough, and any used item becomes fair game. Any towel or cloth that doesn’t actually have visible stains can be redeemed with this method. It’s just that simple. No matter how heinously the towel’s been treated — maybe you pull your towels through your legs and floss your ass with them, no matter! — the ‘The Other Side‘ technique can work for you. Just remember, the unspeakable horrors that were let loose on the towel always, always left their filthy remnants on the side of the towel you’re not currently using. In other words, The Other Side. Keep it in mind; it could save your life one day.

(Or at least a trip to the linen closet, which could theoretically kill you. Do you really want to be found naked and dripping and dead in your hallway, clutching a clean fluffy towel to your chest? Or would you prefer to simply dry your bod on a towel that’s not really dirty — all the gross shit’s on The Other Side, remember — and go merrily on your way? I know what I’m choosin’.)

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse into my showering life. (The neighbors seemed to like it, before we put up the bathroom blinds.) And I hope I’ve helped you to make the right choice the next time you find yourself in your own tub without the proper towelage. It’s all a matter of mind over perfectly reasonable disgust. Of course, it helps to have your significant other’s towels and cloths to choose from. There are plenty of areas on my body that I wouldn’t want to rub on a towel that I was going to dry my face with.

(Unless I used The Other Side of the towel, of course!)

But the list of those taboo places on my wife is pretty damned short, which makes her towels much easier to reuse. Basically, if she didn’t literally fart on the towel at point-blank range, it’s still in play. And even at that, the fart would be on The Other Side. Of course, those things can seep, so maybe I wouldn’t risk it.

Anyway, that’s about all I can tell you about my showers for the moment. If I think of anything else that you should know, or I have any other freaky hypotheticals come up, I’ll be sure to tell you. And honestly, it’s pretty damned likely. I shower at least once a day, whether I need it or not, so there are plenty of opportunities for new epiphanies and posers. I’ll just be sure to dry off before coming to the computer to blog them for you. Exactly what I’ll dry off with, I can’t really say yet. But with any luck, it’ll still be damp and smell like my wife. Well, like most of her, anyway. Just as long as it doesn’t smell like the parts she dried on The Other Side. ‘Cause that’s just nasty.

Permalink  |  2 Comments

2 Responses to “Musings From the Porcelain Cathedral (No, Dammit, the Other One!)”

  1. You know…I have weird thoughts like that in my shower too. Even when I try to think of the serious stuff, my mind wanders. Perhaps all that pinging of thoughts off the tiles in a close space contributes? Anyway, I like to follow my train of thought. Like sometimes, I’ll suddenly ‘wake up’ and go “how did I get to be thinking this?” and so I’ll follow my train of thought back to where I can see logically how I got to present point. It’s very satisfying. As for the song I would sing? Sadly, it would have to be “Don’t call me baby”, that dance song? I’m sure there are other real songs I know the words to, but I’ll be damned if I can think of them now.

  2. Monkey says:

    Dang, I think I pulled something laffing just now. You rock my world.

    I’d sing ‘Blister in the Sun’ by the Violent Femmes. I don’t actually know all the words, but everyone always sings along, so when I get to mumbling over the tricky bits, the gunman wouldn’t notice because he’d be singing over me.

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