The Impossible Shower

woman washing and taking a shower.
woman washing and taking a shower.

My favorite sensation is that of having just taken a shower, when I'm feeling clean, smooth, refreshed and like I've accomplished something: namely, showering. My second favorite sensation is that of being in the shower, under the nozzle, enveloped by steam and hot water. My third is being left alone with a breadbasket and an overflowing leprechaun's pot worth of gold foil covered butter packets, but that's beside the point.

Considering my feelings about showering, you might imagine I spring from the sheets in the morning and make a beeline for the shower, a smile on my face and a song in my heart, ready to face another great day. You might imagine this, but you'd be sorely mistaken. What kind of asshole do you think I am?

On the contrary, I waste inordinate amounts of time trying to find the motivation to shower. It's as if an impenetrable force field surrounds the bathroom, and I'm trapped on the outside with Google and Twitter and a million distractions. I love feeling clean, but apparently what I love more is Googling episodes of TV shows I saw when I was so young I'm left wondering if I imagined them. In the case of the episode of Facts of Life that was send-up of The Twilight Zone, where Blair was moussed to death, it really existed.

If someone told me how much time I would spend as an adult trying to figure out how to manage my time, I never would have believed them. I'd say a good third of my day is spent figuring out when to shower. Another third is spent trying to figure out how to shave my armpits in a way that both removes hair and doesn't leave me looking -- and feeling -- as if I slid pit-first on a bumpy gravel road. The last third is spent debating insignificant online purchases. It's amazing I get anything done.

But every time I mention the shower issue people tell me how they relate. If you aren't relating, it's likely you work normal daytime hours. Consider yourself among the lucky -- and also very mature.

For the rest of us who work evenings as I do, or who are freelance, work from home or are unemployed, structuring a day can prove challenging, especially if you have nowhere to go and no one to see. Why waste all that grooming?

I remember when the conservation of grooming began. It was when I was in my late teens and early twenties, when the idea of staying home on a Friday night was unthinkable, but most plans were made at the last minute. Because it took me forever to get ready, I would begin the process early in the day, on the off chance I'd have somewhere to go.

This was in the days before Brazilian or Japanese hair straightening when if you had curly hair and wanted to wear it straight, which I always did, you had to rely on a blow dryer, a paddle brush, some kind of oily pomade and a drought. The longer you ran the blow dryer the hotter you would get, and the sweat and heat coming off your head would make the sections of hair you'd already straightened curl up again. Wherever you focused your attention, frizz would spring up in another location. It was like whack-a-mole but on my scalp. All of this was to achieve a damaged swirl of dry frizzy hair that in no way resembled the naturally straight flowing locks I coveted.

Imagine taking a cotton ball and stretching it out until it was kind of flat and rectangular and then imagine if it were black and giant and protruding from the back of my head. That's what my hair looked like. And it took me hours to achieve that look.

Then there was the makeup and the accessories and the trying and retrying of all the clothes in my closet. All of which was done on spec. I basically set aside the entire day to appear spontaneous. But then, if I ended up not going out I felt awful and foolish, because I'd spent so much time getting ready and for what? To sit by the phone? It was a waste of mascara.

So maybe that's why the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction; I basically won't start getting ready until it's too late for me to be on time.

I should Google time management.