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Of the two bathrooms in the house, prior to pacemaker I showered upstairs in the 1930's cast iron claw foot tub with shower head and oblong rod installed in the late 1960's. Downstairs in the 1990's addition for my late mother-in-law, there's a stall shower that's difficult to clean, close quarters compared to upstairs but after bed baths in the hospital then the indignity of being hosed down by some laughing aide at the rehab facility because you can't lift your arm on the side of the pacemaker above shoulder level for 6 weeks, I now shower downstairs.


There's a hand held water-saving lovely shower head, a grab bar, a temporary bench, my lifelong favorite Ivory soap is easily within reach as are hair washing products. When the Moen water dial was installed, the plumber for some inexplicable reason reversed the hot and cold so my brain has to consciously remember that in addition to turning on the exhaust fan before getting in plus have a pile of clean clothes for the day or pjs if I'm showering at night.


Once inside, I try to relax and enjoy the experience but before I know it one or two people manage to join me. The inevitability of this is like clockwork, like people squeezing into phone booths or circus clowns cramming into a ridiculously small clown car. My solitary shower becomes crowded with my doctors, my Russian dentist and his wife, old friends I haven't heard from for years, people I don't like, people I do like, the author of a book I'm currently reading, former art teachers; the list is endless.


I've tried several approaches to end this madness and none of them work in the slightest. The following method seemed easy in theory...just focus on the feeling of hot water, the smell of Ivory soap and vanilla mint shampoo...until several soggy people asked why I use "baby soap", like I need sarcasm while I shower. Second attempt...for whatever reason everyone else is not naked so I tried to poke fun at them having to spend the next 6-8 hours in soaking wet clothes. The result ? Laughter and more people joined.


If you can't beat them, join them...a philosophy I've never liked but tried, having the worst reaction because not only did ALL of the aforementioned remain but some of my relatives, a former pastor, his wife and their old German Shepherd joined the claustrophobic party. I like to think I'm relatively normal but wonder if anyone else experiences this raucous daily ritual. This is not a formal poll but I'd welcome any and all responses or suggestions.

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