the shower: prt III 25 Comments

I have yet to figure out how to successfully navigate the grey borders between nonchalant compliance and active accountability: a weakness that has somehow worked in my favor, much to the chagrin of those that I have disappointed specifically because of it.

Note to self: Self-help books written by others do irreparable harm to the reputation of the self.

She grabs my hand and playfully tugs at me to get off the couch. I comply.

Various organs in unison: Oh shit!

Walking upstairs to the bathroom becomes an exercise in nerves. I consider halting my thoughts and shrugging it all off, but the ambiguity of her reasoning would not let me. Is she that serious about the environment? Is this a trick? Do my kidneys really need to stay en garde against a hostile intruder? Or maybe, just maybe, this whole scenario is just one elaborate charade towards casual sex.

She leads me to the bathroom and closes the door behind her, locking it with elaborate gestures. She hums a tune I cannot quite recognize, while turning on the water in the shower. I am struck by my own awkwardness. I just stand there, staring into a nondescript area between the towel rack and the door hinges.

“Hope the water’s not too hot,” she says behind me. I grope around for some modicum of appropriate behavior. Turning around slowly, I am relieved that she still has her dress on.

Brain: You have one new message from Moral Debt Collection Agency. Please keep in mind that her brother is two doors down from you this very minute, and your moral credit history might be jeopardized if you –

Beeep! Message deleted.

“Aren’t you going to take your clothes off?” She asks me this with disarming cheer.

“Err … you’re serious?” I am still expecting a ta-dah! to relieve this awkwardness – some kind of comic relief.

Penis: I’ll pretend you did not just call me that!

Brain: Feeling insecure, are we?

“OK, I’ll go first if it’s going to make you feel more comfortable.” And with incredible ease and comfort, her dress falls off, and a fully naked Ruth is stepping into the shower and disappearing into a silhouette behind the foggy curtain.  I feel like I am playing chess for the first time, without anybody showing me any of the basics.

Monkey see, monkey do. She moved a pawn; I’ll move a pawn.

I take my clothes off, and stand there, waiting for a confirming invitation to join in this inelegant, yet environmentally-mindful activity.

“Are you coming in?” her silhouette whispers. That definitely sounds like a confirmation.

Penis: Halt! Do I have vitiligo?

Brain: What?

Penis: Vitiligo, you imbecile! Do I have it?

Brain: What the fuck is vitiligo?

Penis [in aggravated monotone]: A chronic skin disease that causes loss of pigmentation, resulting in irregular pale patches of skin, commonly on extensors aspects of extremities or in skin folds. It’s also called leukoderma. Or, to peasants like you, Michael Jackson’s sorry excuse to want to be Caucasian.

Brain: You are deranged, you know that?

Penis: Shut up and check! And check again before you catapult yourself into a situation that can be morosely embarrassing!

Brain: I see nothing wrong, honestly.

I inch towards the shower and take a peek, sneaking my head in past the curtains.

“Come on in then,” she says, handing me the bar of soap. Her countenance does not seem to belie anything devious. In fact, it is her sincerity that I find disconcerting.

Brain: She glistens. Cool. Shiny, too.

I grab the bar of soap and step into the overhead torrent of lukewarm water. It beats on the back of my neck and down my back, while we stand there facing one another. The streams of water that miss the peripheries of my scrawny contour find their way towards her royal shininess.

I do not know what the next move is. Chess is clearly not for beginners. She smiles and asks me to lather her up.

Penis: Bollocks, mate! You’re behaving like an odorous pile of turd right now. Could you please maneuver your arms and do something? This is sheer unsportsmanlike conduct; the kind of behavior that would have warranted excommunication if I had my wits about me.

“Well, this is awkward,” I manage to smile, convinced that acknowledging and honoring the situation for what it is would diffuse the tension.

“Is it? I wouldn’t say so,” she counters, smiling back. Still cheerful. Still sincere.

Shit. Well, there goes that strategy.  Back to awkward again. Somehow, my hands find their way to her neck and start soaping her down. I cannot figure out how long I should work on certain areas before it becomes inappropriate. Or worse: creepy.

“That feels good.” She almost sounds helpful, the way she presents that statement.

“Thank you. I’ve been working on it.” I grin, I think. “Wax on. Wax off.” A sorry attempt at humor, especially while working her breasts.

Penis: Stiff upper lip, dear chap. Stiff upper lip!

She looks down towards her feet and giggles. Unaware that I’ve worked her breasts to squeakiness, I ask her what could possibly be funny.

“You are,” she offers, still looking down at me.

Penis: Groovy. She’s checking me out.

Brain: I really hope you don’t have that vitiligo thing you mentioned earlier.

Penis: If I do, there is no sign of detection on her part. Victory shall be mine! Quick! Move to the lower abdomen!  There isn’t enough soapy sudsy stuff there!

It just said “soapy sudsy stuff.” A clear indication of curtailed articulation. I feel her hands on me. She moves in closer and kisses me. I wonder if casually stabbing her navel with my British colleague qualifies as assault.

Brain: Moral Debt Collection Agency holding on line 1. Please pick up.

“Listen, maybe this is not such a good idea right now. Your brother is only a couple of walls away.” I manage to squeeze in those words in the midst gluing and ungluing my face to hers.

“You’re right,” she agrees. “We should just finish up and go downstairs to your room. We’re really wasting water, anyway.” How one can consistently reconcile lust with environmental concerns is beyond what my faculties are used to managing. I am impressed in the same way that I was impressed with skyscrapers upon first arrival to America: a casual sense of wonderment that gradually gives way to a casual sense of nonchalant acceptance.

*              *              *

Standing outside the Urban Outfitters in Chinatown, I am slowly finishing up my last Parliament Light, inhaling every last bit of its cancerous funk before squashing it on the sidewalk. It makes no sense that I find myself here, especially considering I have no money. I have taken the day off from my cash-paying-under-the-table-educated-illegal-immigrant-mind-prostitution job, and have spent the day wandering about Northwest DC. Chain smoking and watching people between countless cups of morning coffee.

Brain: Go on in and look around. You might find something you like that you will not be able to afford. It will be yet another reminder of your fucked up situation. Then you can go home to mope and whine about how much of a toll your illegal status is taking on your sanity.

I walk into the store, making my way upstairs to the men’s section, past apparel with hobo aesthetics and vehicular price tags. Shuffling through an array of clever novelty t-shirts, I am reduced to a cackling buffoon by what I find: a green t-shirt with a tattered icon of a water drop and silhouetted lettering:


My thoughts relapse into recollections of awkward showers, environmental concerns, Chomsky, vitiligo, Sunday afternoon rain clobbering dusty basement windows, graceless sex, and a yellow condom. Exactly what aesthetic or physical esteem is accomplished by coloring a prophylactic into a bright yellow?

The t-shirt costs an obscene $34. That is almost two 14-hour days of work at the plantation that I am avoiding today.

It’s Wednesday morning, and the world has yet to die in my sleep.

25 Responses to “the shower: prt III”

  1. 1 Nifas

    Now i am really confused :( Nolawi and Toothpick what is this whole shower thing about?

  2. 2 Wurgatu

    aziyeh bizor ayikochegnim!!!
    what a beautiful mind you have!!!!
    thank you!

  3. 3 Hidaya

    Brilliantly written like The Shower Part I and Part II, I liked the vivid imagery in Part I even though some of it was downright scary ie the hissing rodent:) I shrieked when I read it scared the rat might jump out of the story I found it that realistic and the description of a Sunday morning squalor after a night out is also quite vivid in the imagery…In Part III the story teller emerges and I am truly engaged in it and like the humour and the dialogue, the story too…Thank you Toothpick…

    PS: So that was what that noise was with men,… the sound of internal and incessant chatter between willy and brain the whole day, highly amusing, no wonder men have names for their willies, it so happens there is a three way communication going on and names might be needed to address all parties…once again brilliant…

  4. 4 Spacefog

    That is great. I like how you connect things.

    still not a genius but its a kind of reading I enjoy.

  5. 5 Dinich


    I take my comments from part II back….and wait til part 37 to comment…..:)

  6. 6 Tsedey

    so engaging and brilliant. I wonder what kind of educated-illegal-immigrant-mind-prostitution job pays less than $2/hr.

  7. 7 Anonx

    Thank for sharing TP. Quality read. Would’ve been nice if you warned me there would be part III like you did after the first installment. Now I will assume there is part IV. Men do it all time though… reconcile lust with concerns for x,y,z.

  8. 8 Bez

    I think someone has a shower fettish lol

  9. 9 yachilej


  10. 10 Totit

    So the shower got taken together, great!!!!…It was an entertaining read…

  11. 11 Spacefog

    I think this has nothing to do with shower taking stuff.

    Had I wrote this and people made comments about taking shower , I would cry for three days or sth.

  12. 12 esl

    nice, i liked partIII i don’t know if it is the showring part that got me excited or how everything connected. Thanks for putting the time in to entertain us all

  13. 13 Totit

    SpaceFog, I know this has nothing to do with taking a shower at all…I enjoy TP’s twisted, sarcastic, cynical expressions…and I deeply appreciate his contemptuous remarks and way of writing…I also notice his knowledge of literature …but in part II I was kinda curious if a person would be so uninhibited, liberated and audacious enough to follow through with that crazy idea of taking a shower in unison under the glorious pretence of conserving water…and well they did…AND I am glad to know that there is a female counterpart out there that absolutely do not share any of my mind blockages and hindrances and does as she pleases…and not care about the consequences…Even though it might be a creative work (I doubt that)…for a second I was able to enjoy the sense of liberation from years and years of societal conditioning…

  14. 14 yebolelij

    enem aziyeh lizur ende wurgatu, sbs.
    You should think of publishing one of these days . you really are good . Literary quality .
    The article ,the way you described things reminded me of Humbert Humbert in ” Lolita ” with those detailed conversations going on in your head. But this is way funkier(and less perverse ).

  15. 15 x

    amazing. all of it. every. last. word.


  16. 16 mimi

    Hey i am really confouse what the shower i don’t understand really thanks.

  17. 17 eriwomen

    toothpick, dear,

    i really enjoyed your writing, just owsome. i haven’t read shower part I, and II, but i will, definitly.

    btw, i agree with tsedey

  18. 18 anonx

    eriWOMEN kab belki kemzi tifezo gerki b deki maHber deki anistiyo teAjibki tiKedi deleki mesilki. Ajoki anewun maArinet sile zibla alekulki tifezo… Mis buzuH Huwunetawi selamta :)

  19. 19 eriwoman

    ha! this is not about ma’erenet. i am just simply admiring the writting, not that i have to explain my self.
    “ajoki anewun maArinet sile zibla ….” in what way is
    eti maArinet? kulen deki anistyo hade aynet atehasasba alewen malet aykonen. ezi ewin tifelto yemesleni zihawey, aykonen?

  20. 20 Anonx

    aye eri, ane yiHchich, isa techaqacheq

    I was only trying to comment on the use of the plural–women

    still a tifezo

  21. 21 Totit


  22. 22 eriwoman

    anonx, lol
    i thouhgt that’s what you meant. i misspelled it. did you notice the diff.

  23. 23 Anonx

    Totit… sorry about that, I have no inclination to exclude most readers here, its just my joke made more sense in tigrina.

    The ‘Women’ part makes you look as if you brought with you your fan club, the women’s organization of Eritrea. If you need that level of support to be here, count me in as your fan since I am on your side on the issue of women’s right. :)
    yea, erit, did notice how you came in with an army of women.

  24. 24 vitiligo

    Can you provide more information on this? So far the info in your post is awesome . In the mean while I think im gonna stick around and read about 8 more of your posts. Truly yours

  25. 25 Binary Options Bullet

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