Phone booths

I am old enough to remember phone booths. You may not be. Your loss since I’m about to expound on them, briefly.

Commonplace in cities around the world until the 2000s, phone booths housed many indecencies, including dirty phone calls and strange men randomly changing into leotards. With a footprint 32” square and a design dating back to the 1920s, the standard phone booth was just big enough to accommodate one superhero, or two dozen college students. Their design changed little over the decades, until they were replaced in the 1970s by simple stalls fully open to weather. Cell phones killed all that malarky. Today you find phone booths only on eBay and abandoned Caribbean islands.

Superman’s Questionable Hygiene

Imagine, then, if Superman decided to shower in the phone booth as well as change clothes. Even if he can fly around the world without breaking a sweat, he’d have to wash occasionally, right? He wouldn’t put his job and love life at the Daily Planet at risk for reasons of personal hygiene, would he? Or perhaps Kryptonians don’t smell. After all, they wear their knickers outside their tights.

Showers in Italy, the ones we’ve used in marinas and temporary accommodation, are about the size of a phone booth. I’m about the size of an average Hollywood Superman (6’3”, 200lbs.) and I can tell you from experience it’s nigh on impossible to shower in a phone booth – let alone change clothes.

I step in and try to close the door, my back sticks to the cold tile as I wrestle it shut. I gasp. Peeling myself off, I pivot to the shower controls, my butt now stuck to the glass door. Avoiding the rush of cold water as the on-demand heater warms up is impossible. Shrivelled and frozen, I try directing the showerhead away from me as I wait. Why, you ask, didn’t I turn on the shower before I got in? Because there’s no way to stop the water from flooding out the open door into the bathroom, then into the apartment, and on into the downstairs neighbour’s pad. That’s why. I’m thoughtful like that.

Finally, the warm water arrives and I start thawing out. Since I can’t raise my arms, I cross one over the other and reach for the soap. It slips out of my hand and falls to the floor. Crap! I lean over and bang my head on the wall. Bending won’t work. Swearing loudly enough that Carol can hear, I reassess my options. Wash with the shampoo or Bunny Dip for the soap? There’s not enough shampoo, so Bunny Dip it is. The drains don’t drain here, so it takes a minute to fish the soap out of the murky waters. Standing up I hit my head on the shower taps. Ow! I give up swearing and resign myself to the harsh reality that I’m too damn big for a country without bathtubs.

Two weeks of core training and deep knee bends helped improve things. Like a Jack-in-the-Box, I can once again pogo like a good ‘un. And, just in case, I top up my shampoo bottle every time I head to the showers. Unlike the Kryptonians, however, my underwear stays inside my leotards. That way no one mistakes me for Superman.

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