For most people living in a developed nation, the question “when do you shower?” elicits responses ranging from “in the morning” to “at night.” For me, it presents an opportunity to reflect on the past week. “When did I last shower?” I’ve often wondered with a combination of concern and amusement. Was it 3 days ago? 4? Sometimes the days all run together…don’t they?
It’s taken me a couple of decades to come to terms with the fact that I’m an irregular bather. Growing up, my parents taught me to bathe daily, and they always set a clean example. I never envisioned myself to be the type to procrastinate on something as basic as applying soap and water to my body. Plus, I despise the putrid smells that seep from the pores of your average jam band groupie. (Seriously, hippies: Patchouli is no substitute.) Yet each morning I avoid turning on the faucets in my shower. I skulk into the bathroom and my bathtub taunts me. Will today be the day? How’s my hair? Is it Wednesday, when I have yoga class? A little soap angel on my right shoulder negotiates with a dirt devil on my left. By the time I’ve decided not to shower, several minutes have passed. I wipe the mascara from under my eyes, pretend to brush my hair and inevitably leave the bathroom with a sign flashing across my forehead: FAIL.
For a while bathing irregularly was a secret I could hide, like the fact that I enjoy reading People magazine. But as time went by, my secret became harder and harder to conceal. Between roommates and boyfriends, the question, “When is the last time you showered?!” has been uttered more times than I can count. Certainly more times than I’ve actually showered. It can be embarrassing to be the girl who looks good on the outside, lest anyone know the last time she hit the showers was “sometime last week.”
Most people who know this about me can’t understand it due to the sheer bliss they feel both during and after the cleaning process. I know what they’re describing, as I, too have experienced the sudsy wonders of a morning shower or an evening bath. I’ve bathed by candlelight; I’ve played music and consumed alcoholic beverages. I’ve even taken extended showers just for fun. But for me, the urge to bathe is an intermittent one. Part laziness, part apathy – but also part pragmatism. It’s like my brain thinks it’s unnecessary to shower every day, so I just don’t.
As far as hair is concerned, some might call mine a blessing. According to women’s magazines and most shampoos, my hair is classified as “normal.” Not too oily and not too dry. Not too thin and not too thick. It is the Baby Bear porridge of hair. While I agree it’s great having “normal” hair, it’s also a bit disconcerting. My tresses can go literally 2 weeks before you’d guess they were dirty (trust me on this). Of course, that doesn’t mean they smell good for 2 weeks, but that’s a pretty minor trade-off if you ask me. I like to think I’ve embraced this gift of hair balance to its fullest extent. Most girls feel disgusting walking around with 4-day-old unwashed locks. Not me. I revel in it. I think to myself, “What day is today? Tuesday? Sweet, I’ve got at least a few more days before I have to take the plunge and wash this mop.”