Le Bain DoucheJanuary 11, 2007 at 2:16 pm | Posted in backstory, vie quotidienne | 13 Comments
In the realm of science and technology, there’s no question that the French have achieved many great things. Louis Pasteur, Marie Curie, Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac: all worked hard to demystify the world around us and improve the lot of humanity.
And yet, one scientific mystery still remains: what the hell is up with French showers? I’ve lived in many different French homes, stayed in many hotels, and wherever I am, the shower is always the same*: a pathetic little nozzle fixed on the end of a long, flexible tube and suspended from a hook on the wall. Exhibit A:
This is how a normal French shower looks. And I suppose French people will try to justify its design — they might note that the detachable shower head is the height of convenience, allowing you to point the nozzle directly where you want it. And sure, I’ll grant, that might occasionally be useful.
The problem is, I need both hands free to wash my hair. And that little hook that’s supposed to keep the nozzle pointed at my head? It’s not working! Half the designs I’ve seen send the nozzle clattering to the floor every time you turn on the water. And the one I’ve got now? It does this:
Not useful! In the past, when this has happened, I’ve taken my soggy self over to the tool cabinet to fetch a screwdriver, and within a couple minutes had the whole contraption right as rain (so to speak). But this morning? That tactic is fruitless. No longer happy with the occasional disruption of daily life (a shower manif, you might say), the shower head has staged a full-on revolt.
I guess the threads on the screw are worn out or something, but no amount of tightening will convince the head to remain upright for more than a few seconds. How do the French put up with this sort of thing?
The whole ordeal has got me thinking: how is it, in this age of globalization, that France and America can have such different approaches to a tool that each of us uses every day? Why is it that I can get a crappy cheeseburger in McDonalds all around this city, but I can’t wash my hair without getting banged in the head by my shower nozzle every morning?
*Except for my French summer camp, which had showers in what I affectionately call the “concentration camp” style. Basically, they herded all the kids into a room, told us to strip, and water shot down from near the ceiling in chilly, fifteen second bursts.
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