So I was sitting around at my friend's house, with a couple of my bestest girlfriends. My friend's cat just had kittens and we were probably committing a major sin of nature by holding and loving on these tiny little babies (chill, Bob Barker-ites, the kittens are over a week old), and of course, gabbing.
With my particular group of friends, you never know where the conversations will go. We can start out talking about paper towels and end up in a make-shift group therapy session, tears streaming down our cheeks as we talk about how our moms just don't get us. This time the topic du jour was the first time you realize that one of your babies has a raging case of b.o., and from that exciting conversational tidbit we somehow ended up discussing washcloths and showers.
I think it started when we discussed how when you first smell that horrible "onion gone bad" odor emanating from one of your prepubescent children, the main thing you need to do (besides offer up some deodorant) is make sure that they know how to bathe properly. Because all moms know, the 30 second shower that most kids take most likely entails them standing under the water, working up a small pouf of lather in their hair and maybe getting the bar of soap wet. So it's your duty, as someone with a nose, to ensure that they get soap in all of their now-ripe nooks and crannies.
At this point in the conversation, one of my friends turned to me and said, "And I have no idea how you get clean without washcloths, Jenny."
You know, the fact that my friend knows that I am not a washcloth-in-the-shower person didn't strike me as odd, as some of you 16 readers may think. My friendships are kind of a black or white thing in my life. If we are friends, we are FRIENDS. I have very few people in my life whom I would consider mere acquaintances, once we have spent a fair amount of time together we will walk away knowing more than we probably should about one another. I can tell you which one of my friends fakes orgasms, which ones keep their ladygardens smooth and Kojak-ey and which ones go au naturel, which ones would rather be eviscerated than spend more than 5 minutes with their in-laws, I even know which friends have peed their pants at Target (more than you'd think). We know things about each other.
So, when Friend brought up my washcloth issue, suddenly I felt the eyes of the women all alighting upon me. I stammered, "What do you mean? I use soap." Another friend said, "Seriously, Jenny? No washcloths?" like she just found out that in my spare time I eat babies. I felt instant shame and wondered if perhaps I had dark tendrils of stinky fumes rising from me, ala' Pig Pen.
I don't use washcloths in the shower. Maybe at one time I did. I know that when my angels were still in the "bath time" era, we used washcloths with them, I still have the stringy, faded Spiderman and Hello Kitty terry cloth squares as proof of that. It's not a big deal in my hygienic life, I don't have some fabric-phobia or some scary Howie Mandelish germ issues. I just don't use 'em. I lather up, rinse off. If I'm feeling crazy I'll shave my legs; super crazy, and the pits too (this part of the routine changes if I happen to have a victim, of course, but let's just say that for the past several months I have been a bristly bitch). As far as I know I don't stink, but believe me, as I walked home from this little Inquisition I felt filthy and dirty. I felt like a RenFest performer, minus the stained green tights.
And worse than that, I started to feel guilt...you see, my children have evolved from washcloth in the tub people to no washcloth in the shower people. I started to fret that I had passed some disgusting hobo-habit onto my brood. Were they the smelly kids at school? Were kids secretly whispering about those reeking Jenny bastards?
I'm the first to admit that there are times when one of my darling offspring will settle next to me on a couch and the smell of ass hits me in the nose like a boxing glove. That's when you employ the "Hey, maybe it's a good night for a shower" talk. After that, though, no more ass smell. As far as I knew, our washcloth-free zone had the olfactory seal of approval. But then I started to wonder, maybe it's because we are all used to our stench...maybe it's like the person who lives in a den of cat urine and can't smell it anymore...maybe we did, indeed, smell.
So, I did what any rational, insecure, fraught-with-self doubt person would do. I started a poll on facebook. I didn't get thousands of replies (ok, I got about 20) but the overwhelming majority answered, loud and clear, "NO WASHCLOTH". There was one person who just answered "Ewww", which I don't know was "ewww" to no washcloths or "ewww" in regards to washcloths, so I took that as a check in my favor. Vindication. I felt good.
I felt squeaky clean, dammit. Washcloth or not.