The Virtues of a Hot Bath - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Virtues of a Hot Bath

The Virtues of a Hot Bath

Published May 4, 2007

Now, I am not a proponent of many things, except maybe some obscure bands that I assume people will think I’m cool for liking. Don’t get me wrong, I like plenty of things, and of course I’d like others to get to know them too. I am not keen on keeping things for myself either. In fact, I almost never shut up. It just so happens that I am not one of those people that go around shouting praise for every single thing that takes my fancy or that I favour.
But there is one phenomenon of which I am an avid supporter, and which I would like others to get to know and experience. Actually, it’s one of the few experiences that I think could be universally appreciated and endorsed, immune to any religious, financial and moral qualms. And that, dear reader, is taking a long, drawn-out, scalding hot bath.
A too-hot bath is a beautiful thing. The kind that you really have to edge yourself into with the utmost care, so as not to get burned by the hot water. The right temperature should be determined by slowly inching your foot into it (take care now). If it gets too uncomfortable to keep your toes in there for more than five seconds, you probably should add an inch of cold water to the mix – no more – and stir heartily. Then you should try again. Repeat as required.
I think the perfect temperature is one that is slightly uncomfortable, but not exactly painful. One where you, as I said, edge yourself into the tub, sliding your ass along its edges until you reach the bottom, where it’s so hot that you prefer not to move so as not to upset the water and maybe get a hot pocket burning your thighs (or other body parts).
You definitely have to bring a book with you, as laying in the tub is a long process best enjoyed slowly. You lie there, completely still until you can take no more, and then you raise your feet above the water. That ought to cool you down sufficiently to be able to stay there a while longer. If it doesn’t work, changing your position so that your back is lying against one side of the tub and your feet are dangling off the other one – i.e. manoeuvring into a sideways position – should suffice. You cool down that way for a short while, until you sense it’s time to plunge your entirety back into the scalding heat once more.
The bath will, of course, cool down eventually. And then it’s not much of a thrill anymore. What’s important to remember when that happens is: never give up. So, you let a little more hot water into the mix, preferably using your feet to handle the tap. When you feel your retreat to the tub is drawing to a close, it isn’t. You should rather put away your book, look around, close your eyes and slowly edge your head into the scalding water. Pretend you are dead for a while. Try to float. Roll on your stomach. This should give another fifteen minutes of amusement, at the very least.
Exiting such a sweet endeavour will be less than easy. When you finally manage to stand up, you will feel drowsy and you will even lose your sense of balance. It’s important to keep on one’s feet when this happens, dry yourself off a little (not too much!) and slowly edge your way into the next available room. Lie on top of your sheets. Let the hot water evaporate off you, much the same way it evaporates off plates in an open dishwasher.
Of course, any manner of things can be used to improve your time with the scalding hot tub of water. Foam can be nice. Some music is essential, if you can procure it, but silence can actually be refreshing too. It is a matter of circumstance. I would recommend a beer, god knows it’s nice under these circumstances, but I don’t actually feel you should need it. The bath in and of itself is intoxicating enough.
All of the preceding could of course be taken as a metaphor for any manner of things. Life, mainly, but also politics, and science, and art and sex and death and relationships. But that would be missing the point.

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