Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On the Pleasures of Bathing

This morning, I took a bath. I consider this notable not because I am habitually dirty, but because most Americans don't bathe for cleanliness, they shower instead. I once had a friend refer to bathing as "stewing in your own juices."

This concept is completely foreign to me. While, yes, a good shower is refreshing, a bath feels like a deep clean--like soaking a pot before you scrub it. My main retort to those who consider bathing "dirty" would be to point out that that dirt was on your body five minutes ago. If you can't stand to bathe, how can you stand to be in your own skin?

I suspect this weird fear of bathing is uniquely American and has something to do with being entirely habituated to flush toilets. We get this idea that everything "dirty," whether it's shit or dead skin cells, has to go down the drain directly or else it will contaminate us. Now, I'm as fond of a flush toilet as anyone else, but I do make distinctions here.

Besides, while showers are lovely, a bath is simply perfect. For most of us, it's as close as we will ever get to returning to the womb, huddling there in a confined space surrounded by warm liquid. Why shouldn't we have that comfort on a daily basis instead of reserving it for that once a year when we feel like breaking out the scented candles and bath salts? Bathing is a cheap luxury that nearly anyone can enjoy.

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