Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wisconsin 101: Ice Station Zebra, the shower

Here's the other thing I'm waiting for in addition for the snow to stop and for it to be warm enough to inflate the tire, although Sharon has informed me that the valve freezing thing might not be so.

I'm waiting for the bathroom, the bathtub, and my body to be warm enough that I can shave my legs without ripping the top of every follicle off with my razor. When you shave goosebumps, you end up with blood. Blood all over the place. The shower doesn't look as bad as it did the time I colored my hair Clairol #22 Cinnaberry, but a little bit of blood goes a long way. The shower curtain is still stained from the Cinnaberry, even though I've washed it since 2005.

I try to avoid blood in the shower these days. I am the person in charge of cleaning the shower and blood just complicates things.

I faced the shaving in the cold issue when I was a Peace Corps volunteer and renting a room. I thought I was renting the top floor, but then Maruja la Bruja crammed seven more people into that house, including the three men who would each shave in the bathroom in the morning and not rinse their whiskers down the sink. I complained to Maruja that she needed to keep the bathroom clean either herself or by hiring a maid, but she was unswayed. After nearly electrocuting* myself in the shower and then having to resort to heating water on the stove and taking a sponge bath every morning when Maruja refused to repair the shower, I finally moved.

The bedbugs did not help, either. Nor did the guy who rented the room next to mine who looked like a Chilean version of Woody Allen and I assure you in the strongest terms that I am not a fan of that man telling me that all I had to do was knock on the wall between our rooms if I ever got lonely in the night.

Faced with shaving in a cold bathroom (southern Chile, where I lived, is cold) standing in a tub with two kettles of hot water balanced on the piece of wood that I had laid across the front of the tub, with a razor that until I started taking it back to my room (I know, dumb) was being used by Maruja's husband to shave his thick, white whiskers - he denied using the razor, even though he was the only person in the house with hair that color, I decided to try waxing my legs instead.

There is a reason people pay a waxing professional to wax for them.

It's because the waxing professional cannot feel the pain that the waxee feels and hence is ruthless about ripping that wax off the leg.

I applied the warm wax to my calf. Let it cool and harden. Pulled. Hard. And through the tears that oozed from my eyes, watched blood ooze from my pores.

I stopped. It hurt too much. I decided there was no reason to have shaved legs in Chile, anyhow, as the only romantic attention I had gotten was from the married father of five on the train to Santiago one night. "Here's my card," he said. "Call if you want."

He had just told me about his family. I guess I was supposed to be OK with it.

Back to now. Now I have reason to keep my legs shaved - sort of. SH and I have been together for six years now and we have things down to a routine, if you know what I mean. Now I have a functioning shower in a heated bathroom without an old man using my razor. I have no excuse except it does use a lot of energy to heat the bathroom with the little wall heater and to get the tub warm enough - no point in having warm air if the tub itself is freezing cold.

So do I shave or not?

* The shower head had an electric heater attached to it and heated the water as it emerged from the pipe. A good idea in theory, but when you have to ask your friend who is also renting the top half of the house with you to stand at the fuse box to throw the switch every time the shower heater cuts the power, you start to seek alternative means of bathing.


Joy said...

I don't understand. Can't you shower for a while before shaving, get your body completely warm, the bathroom appropriately steamy, etc, and THEN shave?

Class factotum said...

Joy, you would think so, but it takes a really long time. We have an unheated basement, so the tub stays cold until there has been hot water running for a good while. If my feet are cold, my legs are cold. Unless I want to waste a lot of hot water, it's better to get the bathroom warm first. My body is very good at retaining cold!

Joy said...

I see. How about wearing flip-flops or some sort of plastic shoes in the shower, to keep your feet from direct contact with the cold tub surface?

You could also, in SH engineer fashion, calculate out the cost of running the heater and running all the extra hot water, and then see if that is more or less than it would cost to get your legs professionally waxed.

Are the showers at the Y any warmer? The resolutioneers should be on schedule to give up in the next week or so, so it shouldn't even be too crowded.

Class factotum said...

Flip flops is not a bad idea. Neither is using the showers at the Y. But I think I will just stop shaving until spring! :)