Sunday, July 16, 2006

My Dirty Secret

I have not had a bath since September 25th, 2005. There, I've said it. I am not particularly proud of this statistical nugget but neither am I ashamed of it. Well yes, actually - I am ashamed of it. But more than anything else, I am frustrated by it. You're probably wondering why the date has stuck in my mind - but for me it's like knowing what you were doing when you heard about Kennedy being shot, or the Moon Walk, or Brad & Jen breaking up. It's just that important.

*Sigh* .... September 25th: it was my last night in Canada. I could say that it was like yesterday. But it wasn't. In fact, it was two hundred & ninety-four yesterdays ago. And many minutes and several handfuls of seconds. God, I need a bath.

Now before anyone gets the wrong idea, I have been maintaining a rigorous level of hygiene: cats, as you know, are quite fastidious (and please, no remarks about licking myself). There is such an animal as a shower in my apartment. And there lies the rub (a-dub-dub): I only have a shower. Frankly, I should be relieved that I don't have a shower stall that doubles as a toilet - any convenience they might espouse is overshadowed by their shuddering repulsiveness. I have also freshened up in several showers that were located in kitchens. Can I get you a coffee? - no, the soap is fine. Really, I should just shut up right now and count my blessings.

Having a "shower only" is the norm for most modern Moroccan homes although it is still common for Moroccans (those with & without the marvels of indoor plumbing) to shlep to a hammam - scrubbing mitt (think macro-derma abrasion), glutinous soap, plastic stool & bucket in hand - for a communal soak and chinwag. I could offer all sorts of reasons why I have yet to enter a public bath; for instance, I could mention that:

In consideration of Islam's concern for women's 'awrah and its proper covering, the Prophet (peace be on him) warned the Muslim woman against entering public baths and disrobing in front of other women, who might subsequently make her physical characteristics a topic of their gossip and vulgar comments.

... but such arguments might be deemed a tad ingenuous since I'm not a Muslim. Truth is, I want neither to be pummelled by an untrained professional nor sit in fetid communal water. Water that someone else has contributed its general state of insalubriousness. How do I know that others haven't been generating their own bubbles too? Who among my co-scrubbers have gastrointestinal issues? I would add that among a hammam bather's accoutrements is sabon beldi - a soap that can best be described as molasses. Nope: I'm saving my wobbly parts for Mr. Cat in Rabat's loving eyes only. Sorry - not going.

That leaves me sans tub. Even during 2 forays into Spain, the gods (and several hotels) conspired to leave me tub-less. As one who believes that you can divide the world into people who bathe and people who shower (and, unfortunately, those who do neither), I find myself firmly ensconced in the bath-camp. I think on many lkevels, we might be superior creatures. Rabat's winters are cold & damp (imagine a solid month of rain, then multiply it by 3); I would have given my eye teeth for a hot bath last February. Now, showers can be delightful contrivances; in fact, on a hot day, there is nothing better. Well okay, a nice gin & tonic is better - but I'll save that for another post.

And so, you might ask, on another day of stinking reeking heat, haze & humidity (the Dreaded 3 H's of the Apocalypse), why am I complaining? I'm not - okay, I am but since I'm going home in about a fortnight, everybody and their dog has been asking me what I'm going to do/eat/drink/smell/scratch first in Canada. Well, I want a bath. With bubbles (and not self-generated ones). I want a freaking bubble bath, with a glass of something that would normally send me deep into the 3rd circle of Dante's hell (assuming he were Moroccan) & maybe even a glossy magazine (even colour brochures from a car dealership will suffice). I want to soak in said-bath so long that all of my extremities will look like they belong to one of those 112-year old yogurt-eating Balkan mountaineers.

Just in case you were curious.

Now, I have received offers from the only 2 tub-owning people in my aquaintance to partake of their baths, but I can't help feeling like the poor relations coming over to swim in the pool. Do I show up with towel and loofah in hand? Is this how patheric I've become? No, I'll wait. In the meantime, I will continue to walk about Agdal and press my nose against the windows of its ubiquitous chi-chi bath boutiques, salivating at the unbelievably elegant European fixtures the likes of which I will probably never enjoy. And who said that cats don't like water?

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