The Bathroom Parade

Michaele AlexanderThe Open Range

Now that I have somewhat perfected my routine (sleeping in slightly later than I normally would and spending time trying to find things in the dark) I have greater opportunity to observe the world around me. One of the more fascinating things about camping in the tamed wilds is the Bathroom Parade. It generally happens twice daily just after sunrise and sunset. People from all walks of life begin a migration to the showers for their ablutions.

The morning finds a brisk crowd, having spent the extra moments between the sheets or sleeping bags and bungling about in spaces a bit too small to dress in comfortably now rushing towards their destination while trying not to look rushed. Or desperate. Or desperately rushed.

There are folks recently exhumed from unconscious states ambling in a pre-caffeinated slouch, hair at unmentionable angles defying gravity. The oldsters are absent, having had to rouse themselves while the moon was still bright, and are amply capable of the extra hour or two of slumber. Some carefree individuals travel in their jammies, feet pushed sockless into their untied shoes, laces trailing. These folks are all precursors to the kid crowd, the vanguard so to speak. They go out and back, paving the way for the younger generation to follow.

In the evening there are men with downcast eyes, clutching meager toiletry kits and “man towels”. You know the type. The ones the delicate ladies shun as they are a bit too small and mean where it counts, have seen too many days of hard labor and are roughened along the edges. The towels, not the men.

The delicate ladies with much makeup and shoes they don’t want to get dirty lean towards the oversized, ill proportioned soft puffy towels. The ones that always manage somehow to slither towards the questionable pool of water below the shower grate and greedily suck up its grand largesse in big gulps while feigning water resistance when it comes to their intended purpose.

And then there are the kids. The exhausted kids, having played all day in the water and sun, ingesting too many après dinner “treats” such as som’mores, busily burning them off until the fuel is spent and what remains is a raw nerve that wants, nay, begs to be put to bed all the way to and through the showering process only to collapse with complete abandon into the arms of their parents and grandparents upon completion.

But mostly one finds cheer filled individuals bouncing along with their brightly colored favorite beach towels bearing cartoon characters that their kids or other family members have long outgrown or the outright ugly ones with abrasive color combinations that are soft and wondrous to touch. Greeting everyone they meet they carry their shopping bags with soap bottles spilling out the top and a change of clothes beneath.

There are families in all shapes and sizes heading up or down hill (there is invariably a distance to be spanned) like ducks in a row, tall to small or small to tall or all in a jumble. Older retired people with zip top hanging toiletry kits containing the necessities tucked snugly away in their own little compartments donning official poolside type bathing robes with matching towels looking sensibly fulfilled at the end of a lovely day. And the very early teens, boldly going where they may have never gone alone before carrying freedom in a plastic bag and upon their faces. The mid twenties or thirties types with backpacks slung effortlessly across their shoulders, so accustomed to them that it seems an afterthought, having spent their lives toting one along like a forgotten conscience.

But everyone is exuding a contentment of some sort. And greeting one another. And smiling. Trees will do that to a person. They walk through time in a way we can only imagine and share a peace so deep and thoughtful and long lasting that it cannot help but effect someone’s Way of Being for the better as they take their place among those worthy travelers who choose to step the well worn path in… The Bathroom Parade.