A Shower Of Disagreements

, , , , , , | Related | August 24, 2018

(I am about ten. The furnace in my parents’ house has a problem in it. For some reason, it diverts hot water away from our showers if we run any other water, and what we get when nothing else uses water isn’t too much. Should we take a low-flow shower with warm water, the heat lasts about seven minutes. Once the water runs out, showering is tantamount to being pelted with ice. It takes at least thirty minutes to recover. As a result, even though we have two showers, we never use the one in the basement, no matter the rush we are in. My mother, the main breadwinner, insists that we don’t have the money to fix it. I am able to figure out that if we play with the nozzle just right while we shower, we can draw it out to about 15 minutes, which makes the situation manageable for my dad and me. My mother, however, can never figure out the trick, even after I draw little marks on the shower wall indicating which way the nozzle should point. Instead, she elects to soak her hair in cold water from the sink and scrub in the shampoo before she turns the shower on. However, our sink is not made for washing hair, so the lengths it takes to accomplish that stunt increases her bathing time to about twenty minutes. I am enrolled in a study program on Saturdays that meets at nine am. The school is about a fifteen-minute drive away, so my dad and I work out a schedule for Saturday mornings. I wake up at six am, have breakfast, and shower around seven am. That gives him the opportunity to shower at about 7:45, and we’re on the road at 8:30. We figure we don’t have to talk to my mother about this due to her work schedule. Monday through Friday every week, she has to be awake at four am so that she can get to work at seven am while still having breakfast, and she keeps to these hours even on the weekends. On said weekends, she usually does one of two things: she lounges around the house before showering at 11 am, or jumps in as soon as she wakes up like it’s a weekday. Either way, we should be covered. The very first Saturday of this program, my dad and I work our butts off to have a nice pancake breakfast and eat up the whole hour. At seven, I find the bathroom door locked. Figuring my mom just needed the toilet and this won’t take long, I go to sit on my bed for a moment. That “moment” lasts over ten minutes, and ends when she turns the shower on.)

Me: *knocks*

Mother: “Yeah!”

Me: “Why are you showering now?”

Mother: “I wanted to shower!”

Me: “Let’s go! I have to get to [Program] today!”

Mother: “You’ll have to wait!”

(Just to put this into perspective, her shower doesn’t end until about 7:20. I can’t shower until 7:50, so my dad won’t be able to shower before he drives me to the program.)

Dad: “[Mother]? Could you drive [My Name] to [Program] today?”

Mother: “It’s my day off!”

Dad: “But I haven’t showered. I’d rather not drive him while I stink.”

Mother: “I worked hard all week! I deserve a f****** break!”

(My dad sighs and agrees to drive me, despite the fact that, due to the divorce settlement of his previous marriage resulting in him owing alimony and child support, he actually works longer hours than she does, even before factoring in that he also works Sundays. After the program, we finally talk to my mother about the schedule we need to keep. She continuously insists that she understands, but this weekend plays out again every weekend for the first month of the program. For some reason, she suddenly decides to change her schedule, and refuses to make allowances for either of us. At that point, I get creative. Rather than a big breakfast like we’ve been trying, I just have scrambled eggs one weekend; it’s quickly made, quickly eaten, and I can do the whole thing myself. As a result, my dad instead showers at 6:00 while I make breakfast for myself alone. At 6:45 on the dot, I jump into the shower. As expected, I immediately hear banging on the door.)

Me: “Yeah!”

Mother: “GET OUT!”

Me: “I’m washing!”

Mother: “I NEED THE SHOWER!”

Me: “I’m using it!”

(This exchange continues for a while until she finally figures out I am going to use every last second of those fifteen minutes. She won’t speak to me for the rest of the day, but I figure it will send the message across. Boy, was I wrong. My dad and I try for a big breakfast again next week, and next week my mother decides the bathroom is hers at 7:00. So, the following week, we go to back to scrambled eggs and fighting. And we do that every week if we determine she hasn’t showered before we woke up. Amazingly, it never occurs to her that she could avert the whole thing by simply showering when she wakes up at 4:00. Even more amazingly, we suddenly have the money to fix the boiler, with some left over for those shower caddies most people buy when they go to college.)

Mother: “From now on, we’re going to carry our own soaps, shampoos, and other personal stuff out of the bathroom and only have communal stuff like toothpaste and mouthwash in each bathroom. Now, who has which shower will be decided on first-come, first-served.”

(It was an agreeable arrangement, so I had nothing to say at first. However, the very first Friday night of this deal, after my mother went to sleep, I noticed her toothbrush was by the sink. Upon closer inspection of the shower, I also found her shampoo, conditioner, soap, and razor. First-come, first-served, indeed. Naughty person that I am, the following morning I had scrambled eggs. It wasn’t until she ran into this shower that she even realized I had refilled her caddie. Every Friday until the program was over, I’d find the bathroom restocked with her stuff, and every Saturday until the program was over I’d pull the same stunt. Never once did she use the basement shower. Never once did she think to shower as soon as she woke up.)

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