Cleanliness is next to ... how does that go?
By Suzanne Strazza
I belong to a writing group. We get together each week to share our creativity, which is often inspired by a prompt that someone has chosen to throw at us. Last week, this was one of those prompts:
Ten reasons to not shower for a week
A week? What’s the big deal? Four or five days is pretty much par for the course. What’s another day or two? You’re like, asleep for half that time anyway, right? And once you smell, you smell, so then it’s not like it’s suddenly going to get bad. When it begins to wake you up at night, then it’s time to start thinking about a bath. Caveat: The hot-flash thing has been a bit of a game changer.
I hate wet hair. I can cope, sort of, on the beach or the river, but other than that? No, thank you. It’s like a huge, heavy gloop of cold slime weighing down my head and slowly dripping down my neck and the sides of my face. Plus, my hair follicles are overactive and the sheer amount of what’s on top takes a full day to dry, two days if it’s pulled back. Which leads to …
The message that is sent when a gal pulls out a hairdryer: High Maintenance. I proudly own two hair dryers and 0 hairbrushes or combs, so I can’t be that HM. Right? Please understand that blow-drying my hair is a task strictly of necessity and not one of vanity. A fact to which most people that have seen my hair, especially freshly washed, can attest. And yes, I am still uncomfortable being the girl with the hair dryer.
Once, I pulled out my Conair in front of a boy prefaced by a bunch of embarrassed excuses and self-deprecation, “owning” this high level of vanity. He just said, “Hmmmmmmmm.”
I rest my case.
Sometimes not bathing is a truly liberating experience that brings an unexpected sense of freedom from caring about what others think. My stench brings with it the fondest memories of my adventuring days of living out of my backpack in beautiful places and not bathing for 30 days at a pop. I felt strong and self-confident and badass. So really, what’s a week?
Then, there is the internal struggle that I…struggle…with, that often takes the joy out of showering: to shave or not to shave. If I am wet, it’s a given that I will wash my hair because the only thing worse than the slithering slime on my head is when that slime is dirty. The more insidious hair is that which lies within my pits. For years, I never took a blade to that tender area and was actually quite proud of what I perceived to be my raw, earthen sexiness. But then one day, my 7-year-old asked me to remove my glorious fuzz because it was “embarrassing.” My mother had been saying the same to me for years, but who’s actually going to change something because of their mom’s mortification? It’s different when it’s your child.
So now, if I lather my underarms to wash them I then feel a moral obligation to shave them too and sometimes I really just can’t be bothered so it’s easier to not shower and wear long sleeves.
Then there’s the argument that I won’t shower more often because of my indefatigable environmental ethic. But that’s actually a crock and the truth is, I’m just…
…too damn lazy. Besides the shaving and the hair-drying, if I can stay in bed for a few extra minutes rather than facing all of those annoyances, then that’s what I’m going to do.
There is the fact that I am forever “about to go for a run.” Why would I waste shampoo and water if I am going to go get sweaty and stinky right away? And why bother doing it afterwards when I could use that time to eat instead and I know that I am just going to run again tomorrow. And it just doesn’t really make a difference that I am barely running two times a week. At most. In my head I am still “about to go” so I might as well wait.
And I can’t think about showering and efficiency without thinking about my parents’ friends, The G’s, who had more money than God and traveled the world staying in places like the Grand Hotel Du Cap-Ferrat. Although they could each have journeyed with a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk full of couture, they chose, instead to go light and fast, which meant that they showered in their clothes to get them clean.
I shit you not.
And here is my big secret about my relationship with the shower (no, this is not about to get rated X): I have a particular penchant for hiding in the shower when in need of some peace and quiet. It works best with a walk-in with a bench but I can still make it work in a claw-foot. NOTE: This is best done without the water running. Usually I am clothed, although it’s not a necessity. Sometimes I will talk on the phone (which reminds me of another of my mother’s friends who talked on her Mickey Mouse phone in her closet in her boudoir when her children drove her batty.) Sometimes I just sit quietly and stare out the window. So then I wonder, “Why go in there and get all naked and wet and then cold and have to perform all of those self-care tasks and worry about desertification, when I can hang out, guilt-free, and think the very deep thoughts that I tend to think?”
So there are my 10 reasons for/thoughts upon not showering or bathing for a week.
I must say, if the prompt had been, “10 reasons to shower more than once a week,” I’d have had trouble coming up with No. 1.
Suzanne Strazza is an award-winning writer from Mancos, Colo.