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I was eighteen when I realized that I’d never taken a shower at the house where my parents and I had lived in for almost three years. The bathroom I used—shared only with my college-aged sister when she was home—had a big, comfortable tub, but no showerhead. I preferred taking baths, anyway, so the arrangement was highly satisfactory. But all of a sudden, the idea that I had lived in a house for so long without ever using the shower in that other bathroom—the master bath—annoyed me.
I brought up the matter contentiously over dinner that night, making a big deal out of what felt like deprivation. My mother received the criticism with seeming indifference, but she was clearly irked by my ‘scene’ and reminded me I was too old for such nonsense. Besides, she reminded me, I was darn lucky to have a bathroom mostly to myself. As far as she was concerned, it was immaterial whether or not I had ever showered or bathed in the master bathroom. Her ignoring of my injustice made me all the more petulant about my ‘deprivation,’ and I left the table with all the annoyance a teenager can muster against her parents.
I don’t remember Dad’s reaction to my hissy fit other than the usual discomfort he demonstrated whenever there was discord at the table. But two days later I received in the mail what appeared to be an invitation. My name was typed on the envelope, and there was no return address. I tore it open, curious and excited. Inside was an ivory-colored card with typewritten text, centered and formatted, in the style of a classically formal invitation:
Mr. & Mrs. C.R. Johnsone
cordially request your presence
in the master bathroom of their home
at 615 W. Highland Drive
to shower or bathe—your choice—
anytime in the next week.
Towels and soap provided.
I burst out belly-laughing and continued to giggle, on and off, for the rest of the afternoon. My dad admitted the idea for the formal invitation was his. My mother knew a good idea when she heard it, and executed it superbly. Their over-the-top response to my complaint helped me realize how completely out of line I’d been.
However, I did arrange for a shower in their bathroom, which—of course—was nothing special, and none of us ever again addressed the topic.
Copyright © Sara J. Glerum 2003