By Andrew East
Go ahead. Mock me. I know you want to. After all, no real man would dare enjoy a hot soak at the end of a long day, would he? Not according to what my friends say about the topic anyway. These are among the more enlightened observations I've heard about my baths:
"Do you use lilac-scented soap on your loofa?"
"Glad to see you took the cucumbers off your eyes long enough to come hang out!"
"You watch gay porn on your phone in there, don't you?"
Okay, I made that last one up - but I know they were thinking it. See, I'm usually a very good sport about being ridiculed for my more sensitive character traits, but impugning my heterosexuality because I appreciate the therapeutic effects of hot water? It's not as if I'm watching Sex And The City with a flirtini and a pint of ice cream - which I assure you, I've never done (FYI: Carrie should have married Aidan and if you disagree, you're an idiot).
So what in the name of Elton John is so terrible out sitting in water? Where does this stigma come from? What if Rick Santorum becomes President? Will he outlaw sex entirely unless it's in the missionary position with your wife? Like so many others do with troubling philosophical questions, I turned to God for the answer. And by "God," I mean I did a Google search.
Unfortunately, much like God, I didn't know exactly how to approach this. I decided to be as straightforward as possible. So Google, tell me, "What is so gay about baths?" Google told me, with a mischievous smile and literally 230 million links, that there are an awful lot of things which are gay about baths - especially when you are bathing in gay bathhouses. How did I not see that coming?
Did I mention that I was researching this during some downtime at my day job? A job which I've held for only a month, by the way. I'm usually able to go at least six months before the inevitable, awkward conversation with superiors about my internetting habits. In other words, don't ever Google "santorum" at your job if you want to keep it.
So after Google and God conspired to try and send me back to the unemployment line, I sought further counsel from my female friends. They were not exactly helpful, either. According to them, when you picture an adult taking a bath, you imagine candles, bubbles, soft music, and a woman in the tub soaking away all her troubles. They admit that there's nothing fundamentally feminine about the bath itself, but the image of a man in the middle of that gentle, soothing atmosphere just seems, for lack of a better term, less than masculine.
I don't want you to think I'm playing dumb here. I'm certainly aware that in advertising, when somebody is taking a bath and they're selling shampoo or hair removal cream, etc., that it's always a woman. I was just hoping that there was a more profound reason behind the stereotype. Perhaps they would tell me it's a healthy thing to do for their ovaries or fallopian tubes or some other vital part of the female anatomy which I know nothing about.
I don't see why a commercial can't be made that would show how a regular guy might go about taking a bath. For instance, here is what I usually bring with me when I take one. First, my cell phone so I can listen to obnoxious gangster rap on Pandora. Second, a couple of cheap cigars. Third, a pint of good whiskey. Now, you can make the whiskey cheap or the cigars expensive, but they both can't be cheap because, hey, life is short. And they both can't be expensive because aside from the job and apartment, I'm still practically a hobo which means the whiskey and cigar portion of my budget is mighty small. Also, and I can't stress this enough, I never have and never will, under any circumstances, use bubbles.
I yearn to see that commercial on T.V. Somebody, somewhere has to have the courage to say "I'm a man and I take baths, okay?" Because if whiskey, cigars, and gangster rap don't suggest that bath time can be an utterly macho endeavor, then I surrender. Give me a tiny pair of jean shorts, wax my chest, and DVR Glee for me. I'll watch it as soon as I'm done my bath.