I haven’t taken a bath in years. No, it’s not a lack of good personal habits; it’s that I’m a shower man. To me, a bath seems like a luxury, a waste of time and water. Drawing near the bath, carefully lowering myself in, feeling around for the soap like a big fish after some smaller sea creature, then washing myself in slow motion, as one tends to do underwater—it all seems very leisurely. Then, too, I don’t know how to wash my hair in the bathtub. But my main problem is that it feels… delightful. It’s like a trip back to your mother’s body, and I’m tempted to stay a bit longer and enjoy it—not good if I have to be somewhere in an hour.
Baths are for kids, I think, rightly or wrongly. My 11-year-old son insists on taking a bath before he goes to bed every night—no nagging required. I think he is the cleanest 11-year-old in town, but the appeal for him isn’t about getting clean. The warm water seems to relax him, to calm his confusion of thoughts. Often, I sit on the floor by the bathtub while he’s in there and we talk about things: Harry Potter, space aliens, why his fifth-grade classmates insist that anyone using chapstick is applying lipstick. You know—the burning issues of our day. After a few minutes of soaking and unwinding these conversational threads, he’s ready to sleep as soon as his head hits the pillow (well, most of the time).
My wife likes a leisurely bath, too. For her, it’s good for the health, especially when accompanied by mountains of bubbles, various bath oils and salts and, occasionally, candles. I could not take such a bath with a straight face, but I admire those who can.
I do like to sit in a hot tub, whenever I stay in a hotel or motel that has one—which is perhaps once a year, while on vacation. But such a soak is a special occasion. It doesn’t elicit any feelings of guilt, unless I stay in longer than, say, 20 minutes. But by then I’m ready to get out anyway, since I’m starting to feel like a boiled crab.
Maybe I’ll take a bath sometime soon, just to reconnect with my fetal self and relax a little. As soon as I have an hour in the morning or evening to spare, I’ll do it. And when will that be, he asks himself.