I’ve never thought of myself as a girly-girl, or a lightweight in general. While I don’t spend my weekends camping in a bog or mountain-biking, I have done these things and fared okay, even fancied myself quite rugged at the time. I’ve hiked up the Continental Divide a few times, gone skeet shooting, and rappelled down a cliff-face or two (not big cliffs, but still). I have a pair of jeans I’m not afraid to get dirty and I believe there to be a pair of L.L. Bean hiking boots somewhere in the back of my closet. Sure, the last time I wore the grimy jeans was while putting together a Malm dresser from IKEA, but I own them, don’t I? If someone wanted to take me duck hunting, for example, I could rustle up the basics (if I went out and bought waders) – even if I wouldn’t ever actually shoot a living thing, per se, my wardrobe contains clothes in which to not do it!
Basically, while I didn’t grow up on a farm, I have milked a cow and used to ride horses. I may be citified, but I have some exposure to the elements. I went to summer camp in Arkansas and Colorado for years, for god’s sakes. I’ve lost electricity in hurricanes for literally hours. I am a tough cookie! Or so I thought, until my boiler went out yesterday.
I live in London right now, and we are in the throes of a pretty cold winter. It’s been snowing on and off for the last two weeks, and I don’t really hold with snow – it’s all pretty and shit until you have to be somewhere. Anyway, I’ve been slugging along fine on the tube and trying to keep my outdoor exposure to a minimum, and it’s been fine, or was, until this boiler thing up and died on me like an injured sled dog.
It’s the Boy Person’s birthday weekend, which is by the by, except that no one’s had a shower since Friday. We came home from lunch and errands yesterday to discover that the radiators weren’t working and we had no hot water. As for the former, it’s not such a big deal, because we’re accustomed to bundling up. The latter has turned out to be a bigger problem than I would have anticipated, having never put much thought into this before. I lost hot water once in Texas, which meant that I had to take room-temperature (i.e. lukewarm) showers – not much of an ordeal. What it means here, at the moment, is water so cold I actually shrieked while trying to wash the dishes. Shrieked until my hands went numb, that is, which only took two minutes. The only amusing part of this is chasing the Boy Person around the apartment with my frozen zombie hands and watch him scrambling in terror when I try to touch him (cold comfort).
We are stuck with ice water, for the moment. I was taking him out to his birthday dinner at a fancy restaurant last night, so greasy hair and BO was clearly not going to do. I spent 40 mintes boiling water in four pots on the stove and running it into the bathroom to fill up the tub with a grand total of 4.5″ of not-freezing water, which I then “bathed” in, using a tumbler to scoop filthy water and rinse myself, like an infant. After washing my hair and soaping off, the Boy Person had to get in the cloudy water himself, while I blew dry my matted and still sticky hair. This was so labor-intensive and unglamorous that I couldn’t bring myself to attempt it today and have only had a whore’s bath (splash water on your face, underarms, and privates – fast, cheap, and unsatisfying).
Lucky for me, I called the Boiler Man yesterday and he’s promised to show up first thing tomorrow morning, so I can wait around and have a shower before work. Had my luck not held, I would have had to go begging to the Indian YMCA to take pity on me and let me use their facilities, or asked my COO to get me into his swanky Mayfair sports club for a rinse. Neither of these possibilities was at all appealing, but desperate times and all.
It turns out I am not rustic in the slightest, especially when I have work to go to. I think convention also begets necessity, because while a couple hundred years ago in London it was probably au fait to go without bathing for a week, two days have left me feeling like a street urchin. Even though I’ve brushed my teeth as per usual, and it’s felt like biting into ice cream, I still feel icky all over. I don’t even know what a boiler is, exactly, although I’ve come to appreciate it’s myriad charms and now know the despair that comes with continually flicking the “reset” button and hearing only a tuberculotic cough in response. All hope rests with the Boiler Man now, as my fingers are frozen crossed.