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Singing in the aqua

There ain't a whole lot to do in the shower. Don't get me wrong, the ten minutes or so flies by. Sometimes, most of the time, it's because you're still half asleep—the fiery cascade of ablution is like your heavenly reward for having the will to get out of bed. The rest of the time it's because you're deep in thought—I don't imagine you could purpose-build a more supremely ruminative environment than the humble shower. When there's a lot on your mind, your fingers can turn to prunes before you even realise you were supposed to soap up, nevermind the water restrictions.

Sometimes though, you're wide awake, and there ain't much on your mind. Then you notice that while showering is pleasant, and hygienic, and fundamentally worthwhile, it's also kinda boring. You occasionally reach for the soap, or the shower gel, or the body wash, or (in my case, to the amusement of my housemates) the handwash, whatever be your poison, and remember to scrub behind the ears—because if dirt builds up anywhere, it's behind the ears. You can do the side to side.* You know the side to side? Sway from the left to the right? Funky chicken? Okay, maybe that's just me.

You could wash your hair I suppose. Not really my thing, but it's definitely an option. If your housemates are out, or you're astoundingly drunk, you can always raise your voice in song. "Now do you feel good? (alright!) Real good? (outta sight!) How don't you feel? (uptight!)". Okay, maybe that's just me. Kelly is an unstoppable shower chanteuse. Just don't tell her I tol' ya.

When you're a bit off-key, and everything has been washed twice—and behind the ears thrice—and you've only been in the shower three minutes, what do you do? You read. It's not a matter of choice; you actually can't not do it.

There's not much to read in the shower. You can't take a book in there, or a newspaper. You're pretty much stuck with the waterproof stuff. Which, since I live with two girls, is the inevitable clutter of bottles of shampoo, conditioner, exfoliating scrub, body wash, and other stuff I can't remember which is indistinguishable from everything else in function anyway.

I propose to you a humbly opinionated assertion: what is written on the back of these bottles of shower products will never be regarded great literature. It lacks dramatic tension. The superlatives are not properly balanced. Far too many words, on closer inspection, actually mean nothing at all. It is always, in spite of the television advertisements, a rather anti-climatic narrative. (It is invariably and unquestionably fiction, however.)

The only interesting text on the back of these bottles—I don't read the front of them at all—is the list of ingredients. Like, I don't know what on earth methylchloroisothiazolinone is, and I must admit to being a little trepidatious about spreading it on my skin, but nevertheless its extraordinary appellative has elevated chemists in my estimation mightily.

But to get to the point, if there has to be a point. What gives me the giggles in the shower is this. Pretty much any liquid compound, broken down into its raw ingredients, is going to comprise in large part water. Haich, two, and oh. Now ingredient lists, by convention or regulation, are sorted by descending abundance. So water is usually at the top of the list. But it's not very glamourous; certainly not compared to tea-dodecylbenzenesulfonate anyway, and one gets the distinct impression that shower-product companies would rather not list it at all. On my handwash (stop laughing dammit), it's not listed. But what cracks me up is when "water"—a good, solid, practical, not to mention English word—is exchanged for the sexy, chic and altogether synonymous (albeit foreign) word: "aqua". That's poetry.

* Scroll down that page to track 08. Some people just never heard of anchor tags, I'm afraid.

Joseph | 16 Feb 2004

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