There are so few things in life that a) bring you immense pleasure and b) you can reasonably, healthily enjoy every single day. For instance, large ice cream sundaes bring me immense pleasure, but I can’t reasonably, healthily enjoy them every single day. Conversely, I can reasonably, healthily enjoy walking to work in the morning, but does it bring me immense pleasure? Not particularly. I mean, it’s fine, but it doesn’t inspire me to get out of bed in the morning.
Coffee certainly does, though. Coffee is actually the perfect example of something that brings people immense pleasure and is permissible to enjoy every single day, which is why it is the subject of so much cultural interest. It’s more than a simple source of caffeination–it’s the ultimate elixir of ritualism, think pieces, and community alike. And the best part is that your cup is always imminent. Maybe you’ll have it later this afternoon, or maybe tomorrow. Whatever floats the boat that keeps you chugging along on the choppy river that is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
All of this is critical context for what I’m about to tell you, which is a somewhat controversial confession that might feel like a complete non-sequitur unless you stay with me: My preferred way to wash my adult human body is via a hot bath, and I take one daily before I go to bed. I relish in the ceremony of it–filling my tub with steaming hot water, stepping in a tentative toe, easing myself in limb by limb, and then soaking until my fingers turn to prunes. I admitted as much during a recent meeting at work and was met with a mixture of disbelief and mockery:
“I haven’t taken a bath since I was, like, four.”
“Aren’t you just soaking in your own filth?”
I recognize and understand the perspective of anti-bath culture, but the thing is, for me at least, baths are the coffee of the evening!!!!! They bring me immense pleasure and I can reasonably, healthily enjoy them every single day. Am I soaking in my own filth? Possibly. But I work in an office, not a Tough Mudder course, so I can assure you the water remains translucent.
I can also confidently say that if you’re not soaking in your own filth, even just occasionally, you’re missing out. When you emerge from a hot bath you’ll feel like a better, more virtuous version of myself, with softer skin and more pliable limbs. Your head will be clearer and your sleeps will be deeper. Your potential for reaching a state of peak relaxed-ness will be significantly higher. And it’s so easy to facilitate–literally all it takes is the turn of a knob. Take things to the next level with a cup of epsom salt and a dash of coconut oil. Bring a book, or a podcast, or a person, to keep you company. Then towel off and tell me if you still care about the “filth.”
Ultimately, baths–like cups of coffee–are things I can look forward to with regularity, morning and evening, so my days are bookended with small joys. At first glance, neither imparts the same degree of anticipatory excitement as, say, an impending vacation, or playing with a puppy, or a birthday dinner at a fancy restaurant, but when you consider the significance of quantity, their collective effect is as potent as any one-off delight.
Are you pro-bath or anti? I’m eager to bask in the comfort of my supporters and gently spar with naysayers in the comments, so have at it, my sweet, sweet saber-toothed cats.