Friday, August 1, 2008

August is Not My Favorite Month


In August, my hair (and seemingly my body-- is this even possible?) gathers moisture from the air and inflates. It is also the month that I traditionally lose all interest in accessorizing, living in New York City, and being civil to my fellow human beings.

But you know how it is. You escape the heat of the city for the fresh air of the countryside. Then, out there, the only way to get a decent bath is to build a deadly weapon, or at least find a tinsmith. It's like you can't win in August:

"A girl who spent her vacation last August in the hills of Connecticut told me how she managed her bathing without a bath-room.
We have those luxuries all year, and it is fun to go without them in vacation. I take a two-quart pail with me, so that I can always have hot water any time and anywhere within a few minutes. The best alcohol lamp I have ever used cost me just twelve cents. It is made in the form of a metal cup filled with asbestos; over the top is fitted a piece of wire netting. I buy a pint of wood alcohol which costs, as a rule, twenty cents. Two tablespoonfuls of the alcohol will thoroughly wet the asbestos, and will boil two quarts of water.
In England, even when there are bath-rooms in the house, it is a very common custom to have what is called a tray or sponge bath in the dressing-room. This is made of tin, is four or five feet in diameter, and has a shallow rim. It is like a bread pan, only much larger. The so-called tray may be partly filled with water, the sponge dipped into it and squeezed out over the body, or one may step into the tray and use water from a basin down one side. The tray is large enough to sit down in. If you are unable to find such a tub, it can easily be made by an ordinary tinsmith."
--Emma E. Walker, M.D., The Pretty Girl Papers (1910)