Sunday, July 31, 2011

How Do You Shower?

Most of you probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about yourselves in the shower.

And most of you DEFINITELY don't spend a lot of time thinking about ME in the shower.

You probably are now though, because I just brought it up.  For that, I sincerely apologize.

But it's something I've been thinking about, not just being in the shower, but the actual act of showering.

It's not really that complicated, lather rinse repeat, but there's also another question, the question of how you stand in the actual shower itself.

I'm going to assume that the vast majority of us stand in the shower.  I think even the laziest among us wouldn't have thought to sit down in there, or build a custom waterproof recliner or something.  Such a recliner would take a bunch of work and multiple trips to the hardware store, so it seems even more unlikely after giving it more thought.

So we're a nation of shower standers, but which direction do we all face when we're in the shower?

I've asked a number of people, and everyone falls into two distinct camps.  Those that get in there and face the shower head, and those that get in and face away from the shower head. The only things these two groups agree on is that...

1) Their way, either forward or backwards, is obviously the best way,
2) Nobody stands perpendicular to the shower head, that it's a ridiculous idea potentially big in neutral countries like Switzerland that are filled with wafflers (note, I said wafflers, as in people who waffle, and not actual waffles, which are far more delicious and not indigenous to Switzerland)

So there are some percentage of the population (n) that face forwards, and there's another set (1-n) that face backwards.  The crazy weirdos that either face sideways or don't shower at all are excluded and assumed not to exist (although anyone who's taken the El in Chicago knows that's not true, but it's a simplifying assumption).

I've tried to find out what that n proportion is.  I've tried through informal questions to people I know, which just gets mostly weird looks.  I've also tried googling for the answer, which just gets weird search results including a WikiHow entry entitled 'How to Shower.'

I'm assuming the article was written for the millions of people that have completed the following...

1) Discovered their own thumbs
2) Learned to stand and walk
3) Developed a basic understanding of social conventions
4) Received a basic education
5) Obtained money through either functional responsibility or more illicit methods
6) Acquired a computer, again through either conventional purchase or more illicit methods
7) Learned to use the Internet and potentially a search engine
8) But never learned how to take a shower

But regardless, WikiHow's Guide to Taking a Shower doesn't even cover the forwards vs. backwards decision!!!

An excerpt:

3. Turn on the water to your preferred temperature. Check the position of the shower head, to be sure that the water is spraying downward rather than out of the shower. Make sure you monitor the amount of hot water you are using before it gets cold.

4. Monitor the temperature. Once you are sure that the temperature is perfect, cautiously enter your shower. Check if the temperature is comfortable before continuing.

5. Wet your entire body. Be sure that your entire head is completely wet and every inch of your body is covered in water. This is important for basic cleaning of your body.

They manage to go on for 16 total steps to taking a shower, including the task of 'Putting Clean Clothes On,' but they never mention how you're supposed to orient yourself in the shower.

How dare you WikiHow.

So there didn't seem to be any answer out there on the Internet, and if I kept searching, eventually my employer would start to ask why I spent so much of my time researching people in the shower.

So I started to think about how one's idea of the right way to shower would be informed.  I guess through seeing other people.  So I tried to think of where I'd seen others showering and if that influenced my personal shower style (for the record, I'm a backwards facing showerer)

I never remember seeing my parents shower when I was growing up, which I think we can all agree is for the best.  I remember showering at the gym in the locker room, but unique circumstances abound and standard urinal protocols apply there as well (keep your eyes on the wall, no talking).  Then I tried to think of movie examples, but those are only really excuses to show naked actresses, which I think is great, but not a reliable source of data.

Which brings me to the conclusion that no one really knows.  For most of us, the shower remains our own little fortress of solitude, where we don't really maintain an open door policy, so there's no feedback loop.

No one knows if how they shower is the right way, and there doesn't seem to be any real source of authority on the subject.  Is there an optimal way to shower?  Is there a physical health rationale for facing one way or another?  Is it influenced by personality type? Like is it correlated with Myers-Briggs?  Do extroverts face the shower head while introverts face away from it?  Do men and women shower differently?  Do people tend to shower like their parents? (I know I didn't have any traumatic shower run-ins with my parents, but I'm sure others have.  And would those people pick up the same style or switch to be contrarian?)

I feel like these are the things marketers for Body Wash should think about.  But if they do know, they aren't saying.  Those Old Spice jerks.

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