Saturday, January 29, 2011

Guilty Pleasures: The Bath

by Kerry Schafer

In my somewhat twisted psyche, if it's a pleasure, there's probably guilt attached. If I was playing Apples to Apples or hanging out on a therapist's couch doing word associations, it would be a total no brainer. Pleasure. Guilt. The two are irrevocably intertwined.

I blame my strict religious upbringing, but in reality this may not be fair. My brother, who grew up in the same social climate, doesn't appear to suffer from the same overactive conscience problem. Seriously - when I was a little kid I used to tell on my self. A lot. Punishment was easier than the guilt. Meanwhile my older brother would go quietly about his business, never getting in trouble because my parents never knew what he was up to. Which, admittedly, wasn't much, and my many sins, huge in my eyes, weren't much to speak of either.

Enough with the preamble, let's take a look at the pleasures. And they are pleasurable, make no doubt about that. Who was it that said "stolen kisses are sweetest?" They knew what they were talking about.

This week at Word Whore Central we have covered books and video games and TV, so I'm not even going to get into that. And I'm not going to talk about sex, either - although I do find it interesting that a whole phalanx of self proclaimed word whores seems to have avoided the subject. Maybe none of us have any guilt attached to this particular pleasure.

I do feel guilt about alcoholic beverages, bacon, chocolate, coffee, and the expensive little cartons of designer ice cream that I buy and hide in the freezer, away from the greedy eyes of other family members.

But I think I'm going to talk about the big one: Hot Baths. I'm guessing that, unless you also are a Master Level Guilt Practitioner, such as myself, you're going to stare blankly and ask, "where's the guilt in a hot bath?"

Oh, grasshopper, there are so many possible ways.

For starters, I live in a one bathroom house with four people. Somebody inevitably needs the bathroom the minute I'm in the tub - in the same way that the cat must instantly make a new deposit when I've cleaned the catbox. This isn't really a big problem, though, because they are all men and we live in the country. No neighbors. They can go outside. Still, I've been admonished by the Viking about being kind to the septic system, and that four daily showers and laundry place a burden on the poor thing. Really. You don't want your septic system to feel overworked and go on strike.

There's more. Thoughts wander through my mind, even as I blissfully soak, about the shortage of fresh water other places in the world, of people who might feel lucky just to get a sponge bath. Sometimes I picture the underground water system which our well taps into, slowly draining away. I have even experienced fictional guilt, pondering the price of water in Dune.

Of course, one sin breeds another. A hot bath is never complete without the company of a good book. And the trouble with a good book in the bath is that there is always the potential for water damage. Such is my addiction with the bath and book combo, that I have read some of my antique books in the bathtub. I have risked my Kindle, and, although I hate to admit it, I have even taken books I've borrowed from others with me into the tub.

I know. Shocking.

But I can't resist the lure of the hot bath. The pleasurable burn of the water, so hot it makes me gasp as I sink into it. The liquid comfort soaking into tight muscles, the way the body relaxes. Combined with the pleasure of a good read?

Right. I'm locking the door now. Go away and leave me alone.


  1. OMG. I haven't had a bath like this in at least 7 years. (Which is when the kids came along, go figure.)

    I don't know why I just haven't had the motivation to get into the tub and all soaped up and relaxed, just to be interrupted every two minutes about who's not letting who do what, or can you help me get my sock on, or can you change the channel on the TV?

    LOL. Might be a few more years before I can sneak in something like this. Sad thing is that I do have one of those giant tubs, but I've only tried to use it once when I first moved into this house. And now, I just don't seem to have time to "waste".

    I suspect I'm going to "waste" some time there this afternoon, tho. With my Kindle. :)

  2. I always wait until the kids (and the husband) are in bed...then I sneak his Nook in there. I try to treat myself to a bath laced with toasted vanilla bubbles at least once every two weeks. OMG, toasted vanilla *swoons*

  3. I have a bathtub for the first time in three years. It is HEAVEN! And I don't ever feel guilty. Much.

  4. This is something about which I do not feel the least bit guilty. I built my entire house around a tub. A two-person, giant of a tub. I have an entirely separate water heater just for my master bathroom. The tub resides in its own little nook. It has a nook within its nook, and two windows all to itself. It bubbles, and massages. It has colored lights and candles. In short, it is my stay-cation space

    Yes, in my supposedly green house, I have a water-eating behemoth and I do not feel guilty. I spent two years rationalizing away my guilt. It's all gone now. The tub is here to stay.

    Now, running away to the wonderland of a good story and abandoning my family for a fictional escape? This is acidic guilt at its finest. I'm working on it.

  5. Okay, I want Jen's bathtub.

    I love to read in the tub, too. I've always longed for one of those great big tubs. Our house now has a little one. Alas.

  6. Three men and you in a house with one bath. Gods bless the Vikings, for they can bathe in snow. Precious flowers, such as yourself, must indulge in the long steamy getaway...

    I'll cringe about the antique books in the bath when you're not looking. ~cough~

  7. Ahhh...I love myself a hot bath, too. Take one every evening. Hot running was the one of the greatest contributions of the Romans to Western civilization.

    I do wish we had a big jacuzzi tub...maybe someday. ;-)

  8. Interesting. I'm a rain and waterfall gal. Baths are okay, but the water cools too quickly. I get bored. And I'm a tad self-conscious about pruning. That said, I will (and do) gleefully empty the hot water tank with long, hot showers. Something about actively running water - some of my best story scenes sneak up on me while I'm holding my breath as water falls over my face.

  9. I don't have a nook but I've heard of people putting theirs inside a ziploc bag just in case it takes a dive.

  10. I enjoyed your writing... Very well done... Janette