Cardella: A showerhead named Christine

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I’m getting used to a new shower in our apartment. Specifically, the lack of faucets for hot and cold water. I’m finding out that progress isn’t always pretty. It used to be that you climbed into a shower and by judiciously manipulating the hot and cold faucets, you came up with just the right temperature. That was back in the day when you didn’t need Alexa to turn off the lights in your living room and presidents didn’t wear ties down to their knees.

I have no idea when two-faucet showers became unfashionable. Simple faucets have been replaced by a stylish lever, like the one in our shower. Ours turns in a counterclockwise direction, changing the temperature of the water from cold to hot.

There is one tiny problem. Keep in mind that our shower door opens opposite the side of the showerhead. Unless you’re able to twirl the shower lever to the correct temperature in one movement, you are likely to get hit with a blast of cold water. Make that ice-cold water. Like Jack who famously jumped over the candlestick, you must be nimble. You must be quick. Unfortunately, at my age, “nimble” and “quick” have been replaced by “clumsy” and “slow.” And remember, even nimble, young Jack burned his toe making the jump.

The first few times I used our new shower, the shower stream scored a direct hit on me. During those moments, I discovered that certain parts of me are more susceptible to icy cold temperatures than others. I consider myself a problem solver (you should also know that my wife, Fran, unwaveringly disagrees with me). The larger the problem, the more creative I become. My DNA has never been tested, but I believe that I’m descended from a long line of genius inventors — Marconi and Enrico Fermi, surely among them. I became determined to solve the problem.

At first, I tried manipulating the showerhead. A note about this showerhead: It sprays so gently and softly, you might think you’re wandering through a rainforest in Hawaii. But there’s one exception. When you first turn on the shower, the water bursts through with all the strength of a power wash.

After turning the showerhead so it was turned toward the tile wall (and away from the “showeree”), I quickly twirled the lever toward the right temperature. Quickly stepped back. This time, the icy cold water scored a direct hit on my left ear. A word or two is in order about my left ear. This is an ear that hasn’t heard much since I listened to Maynard Ferguson hit triple C on his trumpet during the theme from ROCKY. In subsequent efforts — efforts that failed miserably — I continued to manipulate the shower head in an effort to solve the problem. I finally realized that if I continued this approach, I’d have to go see my Ears, Nose and Throat guy to remove the water from my suffering left ear. But undaunted, I persisted. It didn’t take me long to wish I’d been daunted.

The thought occurred to me that I might be approaching this thing all wrong. Instead of manipulating the shower head, I decided to manipulate the position of my body. Namely, away from the first jolt of cold water. I decided that by going into a squat position right after twirling the shower lever, the first burst of cold water would go over my head. Experts say that the best way to succeed in any endeavor is to imagine success. Sort of like Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and his POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING. I had never imagined inviting Dr. Peale into my shower — figuratively, of course. The idea was invigorating.

I stepped into the shower. Before turning on the water, I squinted hard and imagined myself quickly turning the lever and almost instantaneously squatting in the same motion. I visualized the burst of cold water landing behind my squatting body, and then rising up and emerging into a Hawaiian rainforest. The spray of water exactly the right temperature. I was ready. I was poised for success. Dr. Peale would be proud of me.

Somewhere in this great country, there is a person enjoying a nice shower. Somewhere in this great country, the vapor from the shower rises — the water not too cold, not too hot. The mist from the shower gently caresses the person’s body while he sings Dylan’s GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY. But in my shower — in the privacy of my apartment building, in the bathroom of my new home, in that most sacred of places, -as I twirled the lever and quickly went into a squatting position — the icy blast of water still managed to find my tender parts. Incidentally, I can assure you that one’s tender parts greatly expand after the age of 80.

Dear reader — I can’t explain how that showerhead can find me no matter where I turn it or where I hide in the shower. Perhaps, it is an instrument of the devil. Perhaps, Stephen King will write a story featuring my malevolent shower head. There are some phenomena that have no logical explanation. Incidentally, in honor of Stephen King, I have named my shower head CHRISTINE after one of his popular horror stories.

I am thinking next of trying an exorcism in my bathroom shower.