This week our boiler packed up – the perfect time of year for an unforeseen disaster. Aside from the stress and expense of finding a plumber who could fit a new one before the forecast snow began falling, we were left without heating or hot water for six days.
Though we were not exactly cosy, the lack of heating was possible to ride out, wearing extra jumpers, wrapped in blankets and huddled together on the sofa.
But not having any hot water to wash with was not quite so bearable.
So this week we embarked on our first ‘bathdate’. It’s like a playdate but the playing part is really just an excuse to use the bathroom. Thanks to a kind and generous friend I enjoyed a hot shower, before my daughter and her friend had a splashing time sharing a bubble bath.
As I stood under the soothing, hot stream of water, lathering my lank hair and watching the suds fall around my feet, I suddenly found myself wishing that the bathdate could become a regular occurrence. Not that I have some sought of masochistic desire to be without hot water in my own home. But it’s been a while since I had the luxury of washing in peace.
My daughter is very eager that we bathe together these days. A pleasurable experience for her perhaps, but not so comfortable for me.
First of all it is rather chilly. I sit shivering in tepid, shallow waters, squashed up against the taps, while she wallows merrily at the other end, kicking water in my face.
She is not keen on hair washing. And this doesn’t just apply to her own hair. Apparently, my attempts to scoop up the murky waters and tip them awkwardly over my head disrupts her own bathing experience. So she protests loudly as I speedily rush my shampoo and rinse, and I later find leftover conditioner behind my ear.
As if this imposition on my personal hygiene routine wasn’t enough, I also have to endure a running commentary on my wobbly bits.
I suppose, really, we never grow out of this fascination with the naked body – we just learn not to talk about it so openly. But one forgets after all those years of getting changed at swimming pools with a towel wrapped around you and politely fixing your gaze at toe-level, that the human anatomy can be such an interesting subject to make casual chitchat about.
In between getting water-boarded with a flannel or being asked to draw hippos on my leg with bath pens, I suddenly find we are discussing my bosoms in great depth. My daughter concedes we both have nipples but mine sit atop two mounds of intrigue, prime for analysis.
Then there is the difference in the shape and size of our bellies; bodily hair sprouting in surprise places; and so the conversation evolves.
I find her questions and observations simultaneously amusing and awkward – like watching an episode of Fawlty Towers. Despite my discomfort I find it entertaining, and must try and remain composed as I explain the scientific facts surrounding my lumps and bumps.
Showers I have alone at home are almost always rushed, as I hurry to get dry and dressed and dash to answer the calls of a rousing creature, hungry and bursting with energy. Or sometimes they are even interrupted by the arrival an audience, who has escaped her minder and come to check how wet my hair is and how my “bothomth” are looking.
That undisturbed shower I enjoyed on our bathdate was not just a cleaning experience, it was a calming one. There was even time for contemplation.
We have a new boiler and I am fortunate enough to be warm and washed once again. But the luxury of a long, peaceful, relaxing bath or shower is about so much more than hot water.
This post is dedicated to Helen. Thank you for being so generous and welcoming, and of course helping to invent the bathdate.