Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Water Politics

Ah, summer camp, my first encounter with the others - people mostly like me who grew up in a strange netherworld known as suburbia. You were a fascinating bunch, most especially because you found me such an anomaly: when not asking if I was your counselor (I wasn't) you were inquiring after my safety in the dangerous streets of New York. And yes, while the Koch/Dinkins years did have their share of, well, crack, I found your wide-eyed disbelief that I had never been a victim of a violent crime charming. I thought you all were so sheltered...

Now devoted partner, a suburban boy himself, has a theory about New Yorkers which I have heard so many times (and find so boring and "look at me, I watch science documentaries") that I cannot believe I am about to repeat it, but here goes: New Yorkers are like deep-sea creatures; perfectly at home in an environment that would kill normal underwater creatures and unable to survive anywhere else. Blah blah blah. Ten years that boy spent in Manhattan and still asked me questions about which subway line to take (whereas I have perfectly adapted to my new environment if you don't count asking him to check my tire pressure, go into the attic because it's gross up there, and being indignant that the people who pick up our trash want to be PAID for the service - that's what municipal coffers are for).

But I am learning that my sophisticated urban upbringing sheltered me from what I fondly refer to as reality. I know my suburban friends will bear with me as I share a fascinating thing with my city friends: hot water runs out!

I'm not talking about when your landlord posts a notice in the elevator telling you that they are working on the boiler and there will be no hot water from 10:00am-4:00pm; nor am I talking about some bizarre confluence of events where, if you flush the toilet while the kitchen sink is on, the hot water will temporarily disappear (or appear with vengeance). No, I'm talking about taking a shower and suddenly noticing the water is getting colder; adjusting the temperature and realizing that you have a finite amount of hot water, and it has run out.

And I'm not taking what I would consider superlong showers. After all, I have to wash my hair with shampoo twice, condition, wash the rest of me, wash out the unmentionables, finger comb my hair, and then rinse everything. Also, there's that 2 minutes at the beginning of the shower when you are adjusting in the temperature and reveling in the warmth. I reckon I have about 8 minutes with which to do this. It's not a lot of time. I remember growing up, my mother would always complain about how long I spent in the shower, but those were the "learning about your body" years and she should have damn well understood. This is not about that.

This is about, occasionally, wanting a leisurely shower, perhaps with devoted partner, who mumbles something about the temperature of the boiler, but I'm really not listening because HOT WATER SHOULD NOT RUN OUT! God help me the times I have forgotten this and gotten in the shower while either the dishwasher or washing machine was running.

Now, to pull this back around, I am reminded of summer camp, where, from time to time, there was no hot water in the showers. I don't remember why this was, but my guesses range from we were in the middle of nowhere and I'm surprised we had clean running water to begin with to it was an intentional deprivation by the rulers of Zionist summer camp to remind us that our ancestors spent 40 years wandering the dessert where, presumably, a shower was an undreamed of luxury. What I do remember was putting on my bathing suit, packing up my toiletries, and heading to the cold water pump where I, and several friends, would tip our heads upside down and wet our hair under the freezing cold water in order that we could wash it. That sort of shenanigans is fine for 14-year olds at sleepaway camp, but not at all fine for 32-year olds who (again, apartment dwellers, don't flip out) have to PAY for water (like garbage, apparently it is not free).

I don't know what power source creates the hot water, but environment be damned, I am considering amping that shit up. I have been very content to live as old-timey folks do, you know, in a house and not a sturdier structure like a building, but I shall not take to boiling water in all available pans merely so there is enough for the washin'. There. I have said my piece.

Nopropos: I have always been a fan, but sheesh, Bob Barker is AWESOME! Suck it, Japan!

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