We are encouraged to shower. Lots of times.
As a rule, Americans shower more often than Europeans, women shower more often than men, women prefer baths to showers, men the other way round.
It is not an important observation, but closer attention to the discrepancy might save a few relationships.
When you have an injury . . . a bad back, for example, or a broken arm . . . or, like me, you can’t see, the process of showering successfully and painlessly takes on a meditative form, ritualistic, slow, and mindful.
My shower is easily entered, and there is a seat, but if you can’t get into the shower in the first place, no doubt you will have lots of mindful techniques to get you body to the right spot. I hope so, anyway.
Now I have to think about water temperature. I’m not the only one who uses the shower, and I am capricious about temperature, anyway. If snowdrifts surround me, I want it hotter than if we are in the middle of a heatwave.
I know how the dial feels in front of me, and I check its position. Turning the water on, though requires courage and a leap of faith. ALL SHOWERS SPIT COLD WATER WHEN YOU TURN THEM ON. This just one of those things that no-one has got round to fixing yet. All shower designers should have to stand under their machines naked, while a disabled person switches it on.
After the first shock, the temperature settles down to something bearable, or it begins the process of separating my skin from my flesh by scalding.
However, eventually I can wash, methodically and carefully, always in the same order, with a meticulous awareness of water jets, temperature and soap. In a shower with a shower curtain, it must be hilarious to watch, as I contort what cannot be contorted, in a dance to avoid touching the cold plastic.
Why do shower curtains do that? Why do they follow me around in a kind of magnetic dance?
After the shower comes the room temperature. It gets nice and warm in a shower cubicle, and, by the end, you’ve got it just right. But then, when the water goes off and you step, clean as a new baby . . . which, of course, wouldn’t be clean at all, but I use the expression metaphorically . . . I am suddenly exposed to the icy blast that makes me clutch frantically for a towel that has been mindfully placed in the right place.
Getting dry is now an urgent problem. In fact, it is now a survival issue.
The key to getting warm again is to get dry, not to turn the heating on. First the face, then the hair . . . what little there is of it these days . . . then arms, front of torso, back of torso, in that twisting dance we do, and so on inorder, down to the feet, which, for some reason, I always seem to forget to dry.
And then, that intricate dance of getting dressed over very slightly damp skin. Oh, the delights of that dance!
Are the socks a matching pair? Is anything back-to-front?
And then, and only then, I can walk out to have my breakfast. And I’m ready for bed already!