A RECENTLY VACATED FAMILY BATHROOM
In the morning I would roll from my bed without turning on the light to put on my turquoise polka-dot girdle, my pantyhose, and my dress. In the bathroom my father ran water, coughed, blew his nose, rubbed the radio dial back and forth, spat into the sink, and flushed the unhappy old toilet. I finished my reluctant dressing ritual as he burst from the bathroom in a cloud of steam, and went to wash my face, brush my hair and pee. The toilet seat was moist with steam, the mirror fogged, the bath mat damply rumpled on the floor, and the sink blobbed with his thick discharges of toothpaste. I performed my toilet cocooned in my father’s smell of hair oil, Old Spice deodorant, sweat, and faded urine, and then went to sit at the breakfast table with him.from Two Girls, Fat And Thin by Mary Gaitskill
There’s a limited number of scenarios available to picture book storytellers for young children. In a young child’s life, bathtime features large. Bathtime can be terrifying and fun in equal measure. Commonly, the main child character (or child stand-in) does not want to have a bath, and considers it a form of torture.
But once the child gets into the bath, they generally (though not always!) start having a great time.
Parenting: Can’t get kids into the bath; then you can’t get them out.
Even for art and stories for adults, the bath is depicted as an escape, sometimes in a wacky kind of way, where our true (secret) selves are revealed.
Bath time has always been identified as a node of particular promise in gay and sexual liberation struggle. Whereas now we have the private spa, historically, public bath houses and beaches are where the temporal discipline of getting clean has been rejected entirely in favour of the capacious anti-functional temporality of bathing: bathing all day, bathing for bathing’s sake, bathing with and in other bodies, playing all day on the Moebius strip between cleansing and contamination; that knife-edge between soaking and dehydration, oceanic bliss and drowning.Collective Turn Off, Sophie Lewis
THE CREEPY BATHROOM
Header painting: Francois Flameng – Bathing of Court Ladies in the 18th Century 1888