Taking a shower is a relatively simple pleasure of civilized existence that most of us take for granted. Until you've lived in a large family, however, you have no idea of the myriad difficulties that can complicate this basic task.
There are five ingredients necessary for a satisfying shower: warm water, soap, shampoo, a towel or other absorbent object, and about 20 minutes of uninterrupted bathroom time. Shouldn't be too hard, should it? We shall see.
Warm water is generally a non-issue, thanks to our obscenely monstrous 75 gallon water heater. Still, on Sundays, you'd better go the night before, get in early, or be prepared for a brisker sprinkle than usual. And Sundays aside, you'd better hope that nobody knows the right toilet to flush in order to give you that "refreshing" dash of cold water. Arrggghh!
Soap is the next item on the list. Contrary to most people's experience, soap is not generally available in bar form. Usually, it consists of a sticky glob of small fragments piled in a dish. You grab a handful, and as long as you use a little imagination, you can pretend you're using the regular bar stuff that you see in stores. Oh well - it gets you clean, and that's the main thing.
For guys, shampoo is simple. Squirt some goopy stuff in your hand, "massage into scalp", and rinse. Repeat as desired. (Actually, I think shampoo companies added that last part just to increase sales.) Anyway, it's not a big deal.
For girls, it's different. Shampoo is intensely personal, like the color of a purse, and like purses, you can't have just one. You need a bottle of this, a bottle of that, one for Sundays, one for Tuesdays, one for when you're in the mood for a little "moisturizing" (isn't that what the water is for?), one for when you have a cold, and so on. You get the idea.
I can understand the need for conditioner; it does something different. Granted, I've never been able to figure out exactly what that something is, but that's okay: I'll take their word for it. Really, a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner is reasonable enough, but why, in the name of all that is decent and sensible, must we have four varieties of each? And even then, there isn't a single bottle of just plain ordinary normal-person shampoo. Occasionally, the situation has become so dire that I've been reduced to rooting around inside the vanity cabinet for one of those little freebie vials they give you at hotels. It's absurd, utterly absurd.
Occasionally - steamy, clean, and satisfied - you'll pull back the curtain and reach for your towel, only to be startled by an empty hook. Shucks - must have been wash day yesterday. Some will open the door and holler for help; I myself don't favor this approach as much. I have learned from experience that it is possible to dry yourself quite satisfactorily with nothing more than a hand towel. Remember - we're talking survival here, not posh bathing.
There is no worse feeling than to be just waking up, stretch, smile at the day, and then hear the bathroom door shut and lock with an ominous click. So much for setting your alarm: your day has just been set back half an hour. What's worse, there is not a thing you can do about it, for no quarter is ever given in the early morning bathroom wars. In this case, it is most definitely the early bird who gets the worm. The latecomer - sometimes missing the door by seconds - must sit in their bedroom in their pajamas and wait, which can be very traumatic. I'm sure we'll all need counseling at some point.
Guys are generally quite efficient in the shower. Girls, not so much. (Nothing against the gals, of course.) I've never figured out what you do for an hour in there, and it seems poor taste to ask, so I don't. Just be advised that it's important to pay attention to who you allow to get in before you.
One other word of wisdom. When you're getting in the shower, don't be swayed by all those pleading little faces claiming they "just need to brush their teeth." Yeah, right. Come back later, or we'll be here till noon. There's a time to be nice and a time to be mean; it's all in Ecclesiastes.
Long live the family! ("Hey in there, are you done yet?!?!")
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