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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

Some Books
I'm In...

Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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My friend Irene was here last week, visiting from her exotic homeland of London, England. We were at lunch, and then I confessed something, Something horrible.

Me: I have to say, I feel a little gross. I didn't shower for a few days, and then this morning I went to the gym and when I got back home, the water was shut off because they're doing some kind of plumbing work.

Irene: [Horrified stare]

Me: So then there wasn’t enough time to go back to the gym and shower and still meet you for lunch, but we have this kind of large Brita container, which holds a lot of water, but it was in the refrigerator, so I basically gave myself an icy sponge-bath. And then dumped the rest of the water over my head. Which was bracing, to say the least. It was like an ice-cream headache, only more so.

[Irene stares at me as if I had told her that I like to poop in the sink.]

Irene: But…why didn't you shower in—how many days, did you say?

Me: Um. A few? Maybe a couple. I kind of can't remember.

Irene: You can't remember the last time you showered?

Me: I can't say my showers are all that memorable. Don't look at me like that. You live in Europe! You should be comfortable with the unwashed!

Irene: You used to shower every day, in college!

Me: Are you saying you still shower every day?

Irene: …

Me: !

Then we agreed never to talk again.

Or rather, we made fun of each other for a while, then changed the topic. I may have made her smell me, at some point. (For the record, I smelled fine. Ice water and baby wipes can accomplish quite a bit.)

It should be said that Irene does not have kids. (And no disparaging Irene, please; she's one of my best friends and I will have to come to your house and give you a noogie if you do.) (Don't think I won't.) So I could say that she has all the time in the world to take daily showers. But my son is six. It's not like he's an infant. I have time. And yet I find myself forgetting to shower. Forgetting, or deciding there are better things to do, like, I don't know, read? You can't read in the shower, after all. Someone needs to fix that.

I ran into my other friend (I have more than one!) Jennifer today, and we were talking about this not-showering habit of the children-having. Jennifer has two kids, so she has more reason to not shower. "Not only do I not shower, but I forget to brush my hair," she said.

"I don't own a brush," I countered.

"I never look in the mirror," she said. "One day I got my hair wet in the outdoor sprinkler, and my hair was all plastered down on one side and it was like that all day. And I had no idea."

"Oh, I have to look in the mirror," I said, "because I usually have something crazy stuck in my hair. Like a cat toy, or a pack of gum. Seriously. Did I tell you about the time I walked around with a hanger hanging from the back of my coat? I never leave home without giving myself a once-over."

"I'm going to shower now," Jennifer said, "Since I just went to the gym. So that’s good, right?"

"I hope your water is on, but if it's not, may I recommend ice water and baby wipes?"

Somewhere in England, a glamorous, freshly showered woman wept for all of us.

Reader Comments (138)

I'm 24, no kids, no husband, no.. anything... and i don't shower everyday. Mostly it's because I feel like it's such a looong process and I have magical non greasy hair so no one really notices - AND it's incentive for me to go work out cuz... that's my rule with myself. I must shower after running. Otherwise - who knows how long I'd go.
July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren
My kids are old enough to leave alone at home for maybe half an hour during daylight hours, and obviously are capable of letting me shower--alone and uninterrupted, but I still don't always get a shower on a daily basis. And it's worse in the summertime. (I know--you'd think the heat and the sweating would be an incentive, but it doesn't seem to work that way.) It seems like a waste of time to go through the whole process if I don't get in there early enough in the day, like before 9:00. And it's not so much the shower, but all of the other stuff that seems like so much work, especially drying my damn hair.It's nice to know I'm not the only one.
July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie
I used to shower religiously EVERY morning now I find myself showering at night so when the baby wakes and the morning begins it's one less thing I have to do.
July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
Audio Books! I'm not a big fan myself as I really do like to actually hold the book, but it would enable you to read while in the shower :).
July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJT
Great post, Alice, and I'm happy to hear there are people out there who are not as OCDish as my dear husband who showers as soon as he gets up, no matter what he's planning to do that day. If I'm planning to sit out on the deck and drink coffee and read the newspaper, followed by planting things in the garden, there is no way I would bother to shower first. He does. Then he does it again later on before we go out or something.

This weekend will be a difficult one for him. We're going to actually spend the night in the cabin we bought up by Lake George. And it still doesn't have the water running. Lots of baby wipes and sponge baths (we are bringing some water with us). Glad to hear they can be effective!
July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMauigirl
Oh my lord! I'm not a freak! Yay! I was beginning to think I was the only one. I think, maybe, my friends have been lying about this. They must only be pretending to be clean! Those *itches.
July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
I can't remember when I've laughed so hard. This was so spot on. My kids are 6 and 8. No reason not to shower every day. BUt I dunno. If I showered then I'd have to do my hair or something. Much easier to just wear gym clothes every day and pretend I've just left the gym.
July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBringontherain
Yes, reading in the shower! You're right, why haven't we sorted that out yet? I guess waterproof Kindle is about the best idea ever...
July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
I find that when I finally DO break down and get in the shower, it's so much nicer than if I were to do it every day. And eventually the legs have to get shaved, so in I go.
July 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjk
I don't take showers. Mainly because I don't have one. But I do have a tub. So I take baths. AND I can READ while I take that bath. Kills two birds with one stone!
July 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter~annie
I haven't showered in two days and my teeth are as yet un-brushed today. I might get to it tonight...if I take a bath. (I may not shower every day, but the other week I took two 4-hour baths two nights in a row. Read two entire books. Awesome!
July 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterreenie
Sorry guys, but I'm surprised. I love getting out of bed straight into a nice hot shower to start the day. Don't feel right otherwise - nothing to do with if it's necessary. Have two kids and they do the same because it's the only way I can lure them out of bed on school mornings in winter. Each to their own, but I had no idea there were so many people who didn't do that.
July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLea
I hope all you non-showerers do some sort of bathing that requires water and soap before you go clothes shopping. Because if I have to add "non-bathed people might have tried this article of clothing and then decided not to purchase it, thereby allowing it to be placed back into general circulation" to my list of things that induce anxiety, I may have to stay in my house forever.
July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCandace
Don't worry. You are in good company. When Brad Pitt is working on a movie set for long hours, he does the baby wipe shower too, and I wouldn't kick him out of my bed-regardless of the smell.
July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKelly
there are soooo many other things to do in a day, you are right! sometimes i wear the same outfit for a week too.
July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMamaCass
O god I remember the days of showering daily, pre-kid. I usually forget to look in the mirror too. The horror.
July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
I love you, but - gross. I definitely got the oily skin/hair gene, so perhaps that's why, but I will happily give up 10 minutes of sleep or reading or eating or walking or *something* to bathe.
July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJL
I'm so not gross! I will not shower for a couple of days, and you will smell me, and I will smell like roses and rainwater. Seriously. Come on over.

I have dry skin and dry hair and eczema, so if I showered every day, I would be flaky and rashy. I need to keep all the natural oils I've got.

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlice
I think people get addicted to showering. The more you wash your hair and skin, the dryer it gets, and the more oil your skin produces. So you need to wash it more. Which results in more oils. A viscous cycle, if you will. (Heh.)

I used to shower mostly every day, and my hair was greasy if I didn't. Now I've weaned myself off frequent showers, and often don't wash my hair for a week. Sometimes I have a "half shower" from the waist down. I think I would love a bidet... I think the Europeans have got it right.

My husband has an odd showering habit which I think I will share with you, since we're on the topic, and someone expressed the distaste for drying off. He doesn't. He justs wraps a towel around himself and wanders around the house, or sits at the computer until he's dry. It's kind of hard to rush the process though, if you're in a hurry.

Anyway, thanks Alice, for the posts. Love 'em!
July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarol
don't have kids yet. don't shower as often as I should. maybe once every 3 days or so? sadly... don't care and can't make myself care. I don't sweat that much so that helps, and it's pretty dry here... ... glad to see there are so many other dirty people out there :)
July 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermfk
You are so not gross.

I'm jealous ... I have man sweat, so must shower every day. Sometimes twice.
July 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commentereden
I tried to give up shampoo. I went nine weeks without it (using a baking soda concoction on the roots) before I lost it and embraced my Head & Shoulders like a long-lost lover.

Anyway, I shower about 4 times a week. Usually one of those is what I call a "face, bits & pits" quickie. I work in an office, I barely sweat and honestly? I hate that cold and damp feeling I have after bathing. Takes me an hour to warm up.
July 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly
um, whatever, shower-every-dayers. that is NOT very green of them. way back in high school, my best friend and i (hi catherine! i bet you're reading this!) used to shower ABOUT every other day, but if we didn't remember if we had the day before, we didn't shower again, just to be on the safe side. this led to us referring to a state of uncleanliness as "playin' it safe" or just "yeah, i'm pretty safe today."
July 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJordan
Let me first confess--I love showers. I mean I LOVE them. Shamelessly. I could immerse myself in said liquidy goodness for a period of time roughly equivalent to the Paleozoic Era. Except that my husband would have me killed. But that's beside the point. I love to shower.

Oddly enough, I do sometimes forget or fail to find adequate time or whatever (with a set of soon-to-be 3rd grade twins and a co-ed daughter that makes me insane on a regular basis, it's no wonder). At any rate, I thought you might get a charge out of the vat of horribleness that befell me.

Imagine it's early June in central Pennsylvania. It's HOT, it's uncharacteristically HUMID and much of our days are spent about a mile from the sun.

Also, it's the final week of school, the first week of church camp and one of my brood decides it's a terrific time to contract some weirdish malady and spike a 103-degree fever. Sprinkle in a mandatory soccer game for fun.

And a 120-gallon hot water heater that shit the bed.

There was no simple solution. Oh my hell, no! It took FOUR brutish men to haul the damn thing out of my basement (hacking up my stairs all the way!) and THREE ENDLESS DAYS for the replacement to arrive.

Needless to say, I have a renewed sense of empathy for those who must endure COLD SHOWERS. It literally took my breath away and I feared that I might have a seizure or actually break a tooth since my chattering was so...frighteningly violent, for lack of a better descriptor.

I had to ponder, "Who the hell would I sue in such an instance?"

Thankfully my teeth are intact, the mysterious fever went away, the soccer game was won, the camp and school have both ended, my hot water has been restored and I can now shower with wanton abandon.

As it should be.

Loved your post!
July 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPlanet Mom
I have an 8 month old. I shower maybe every 3rd day. Just because it should be done. But its not like I want to that much.
July 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

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