Live & Learn

In the end, it's all down the drain


There are two kinds of people in the world: shower-takers and bath-takers. I suspect there are more shower-takers, though, as far as I know, there have been no studies or polls done on this subject.

Bathers and showerers are equally single-minded in their dedication to their preferred method of washing, however. If you don't believe me, just bring up the topic at your next dinner party.

I'm a bath-taker. I grew up in a family of five children. We had a bathtub in the downstairs bathroom and a shower upstairs. All five of us kids slept upstairs, and the plan, my parents insisted, was for the kids to use the shower bathroom. Not me. I had to have my bedtime bath every night. My parents never understood this. I never questioned it or defended it. It just was.

My mother used to pound on the bathroom door and say, "What in the world are you DOING in there, Vivian?" Like there was something sinister about my nighttime ritual.

"Hmmm?" I would answer, trying not to let her interruption disturb my reverie.

My mother didn't understand the metaphysics of bathing. From the moment I turned on the spigot, it was spiritual. I would drift into a hypnotic trance as I stuck a big toe into the water splashing into the tub to test its temperature and swish it back and forth. Pouring in a few drops of my mother's cologne was the next sacred act. Then stepping gingerly into the hot, steamy bath, I would return to the warmth and safety of the womb.

Rising from the bath completed the ritual. If I were lucky, the house would have quieted down during my sojourn in the bath. My sister would be asleep. I could slip into my bed, already half asleep and ready to dream.

I've clung to that ritual all my life. When my own children came along, and I began a career, the nightly bath was my respite from the day's cacophony. It was delicious indulgence, a precious moment when time stood still just for me. It restored my soul.

Through the years, the bath has taken on even more significance. As I age, it sooths aches and pains like nothing else can. I'm so addicted to it that when I travel and find myself without a bathtub, I get grumpy, and toss and turn when I get into bed.

I've talked to a lot of bath-takers over the years. I've noticed that we tend not to be the movers and shakers in the world. We're more often underachievers and dreamers. We're not driven by fierce ambition. We like to stop and smell the flowers. We enjoy sleeping in. We feel deprived if our day is so crammed with activity that there's no time to just sit and gaze out the window at the clouds for a few minutes, or chat with the neighbor next door about nothing.

Shower-takers are the driven ones, the go-getters. They're the early risers, jumping out of bed and into the shower. They emerge from their skin-prickling, soap-scouring ritual with their blood racing and every cell primed for the challenges of the day. They're off and running. Do they ever stop? When they sleep, do they keep the motor idling?

I suspect, though, that while the shower-takers may win the Nobel prizes and run the giant corporations, we bath-takers live longer. So it all balances out. It takes both kinds to make the world go round.

And in the end, it's all down the drain, anyway.

Contact Vivian Taylor at 474-1386 or by e-mail at

Commenting has been disabled for this item.