Both Wyatt and Maxfield now take showers instead of baths. I am not sure if I should introduce the old prank of sneaking into the bathroom and dumping ice cold water into the shower. I think it would be funny but then I think about my cousin Frankie.
I spent the majority of my Augusts, in my youth, at my Uncle Bill's house at the shore in Wild Wood Crest NJ. Uncle Bill, actually my dad's uncle (which made him my great uncle and is who I named after) owned an old 5 bedroom, 1 bathroom house a few blocks from the beach. He lived there year round with his brother Bud and their dog Butch. The house was open all summer long to any of his 10 nieces and nephews as well as his 35 great nieces and nephews. From Memorial Day until Labor Day the other 3 bedrooms were occupied by various families vacationing. Most summers there was also 2 to 4 teen aged great nieces/nephews who had the opportunity to live and work down the shore for the summer with free room and board because of Uncle Bill's and Uncle Bud's generosity. During the month of August my family shared the space with Aunt Kathleen's family and on average there were about 20 to 22 people living in that house.
For most of my childhood in Wild Wood we showered at an outside chain-pull shower spigot attached to the back of the house. We did this for two reasons; one, so we would not track sand through the house and two, there was only an old claw foot tub in the one and only bathroom inside the house. Upon returning from the beach each day all of the kids would line up near the outside shower head. The younger kids were usually stripped naked and scrubbed down by their parents as the old neighbor lady, over the grayish flat-post fence, smiled and laughed at the shiny white tan-lined heinies. The older kids waited their turn and showered wearing their bathing suits, feeling embarrassed by the old lady's smiling glare. I think she lived for watching the afternoon showers. I am sure she was just a nice old lady but I found her to be kind of creepy.
The summer I turned 14 that all changed. Sometime during the off season, My Uncle Bill had a shower stall installed inside the bathroom. It may have been there all the time but I remember I was first allowed to use it when I was 14. Why do I remember that? Because it was also the last time I used the inside shower stall. My brother and I had met some girls on the beach and we were going to meet them at the boardwalk. It wasn't a date but it was hanging out with girls and girls required the use of shampoo and soap and deodorant.
I was washing my hair, I had only been in for a few minutes, when I caught the shadow of a person through the textured steamy glass. I know I used the hook and eye lock when I went into the bathroom. But I also knew that sometimes people would use a wire hanger to pop the hook and get in if they had to go. I tilted my head back to rinse the shampoo when I saw a hand reach over the top of the stall. At first I felt the blast of the ice cold water that was being dumped on me. I yelped. But then on my forehead I felth the thump of the bottom of the pint glass that slipped from the hand. Then I heard and felt the crash of the glass as it shattered all over my head and face. I screamed. My eyes stung as soap found its way past my squinting lashes. I looked at the floor of the stall and saw soap and blood turn into green trickles against the blue colored tiles.
"Oh my God. Oh my God." said the voice on the other side of the stall door.
I opened the door and saw my cousin Frankie standing there wide eyed. Frankie was living in the house all summer, he worked as a life guard on the beaches. His parents were not at the shore house at this time.
"Shhh. Shhh. Don't yell." he said. I could tell he did not want to get in trouble for what he did.
I stepped on a piece of glass and cut my foot. Frankie helped me out of the stall. Just then the bathroom door opened up.
"What happened?" my mom asked as she entered. "I heard something break. I heard some one screaming bloody murder."
She saw the blood on my foot and specks of blood on my face.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
Before I could answer the bathroom door swung open. It was one of my brothers.
"What happened?" he said.
Before I could answer Aunt Kathleen ran into the bathroom.
"What happened? I heard something break." she asked.
Frankie started to explain. I tried to wrap myself in a towel but my mom warned me against it saying that if I had glass on my body the towel could cause the glass to cut me. My mom and Aunt Kathleen started to inspect my head and body for shards of glass. It was a difficult task due to me being soaking wet. They asked me if I was okay.
Before I could answer two more of my brothers entered the bathroom to see what was going on. Then my 13 year old cousin Monica ran in. Then Uncle Bill popped his head in. Then another cousin. I stood there naked in front of an audience of curious people. I was mortified and embarrassed, covered in cold induced goose bumps, a knot forming on my head where the glass hit. I immediately became aware of my just-hitting-puberty-body and who was looking at me. I started to feel feint.
Frankie later apologized. I never went to the boardwalk that night. For the rest of my time down the shore I showered outside. I would rather give the old lady next door a bit of entertainment than to suffer through another round of the entire house seeing me naked.