Monday, September 30, 2013
One of the great joys of travel is taking a long, hot shower in a nice hotel. There are no worries about letting the water run all day and the shower itself is often well appointed with stone or marble and very conducive to comfort and relaxation. The shower at the Hotel Empire in NYC, where my girlfriend and I stayed this past weekend, was just such a shower. Lavishly appointed, aesthetically inviting and complete with multiple showerhead attachments and gadgets, the shower in our room was incredibly inviting. There was, however, one small oddity that made me very curious and resulted in a far more adventurous shower experience than originally expected: The shower only had half a door.
You’ve seen the nice showers in fine hotels I am referring too, straight out of some Italian villa with their stonework and tile, often a tiny bench seat and rainforest type showerhead above. They are beautiful and they make us hate going home to our off-white mold boxes with the curtain that always has a half inch of mildew cheese on the inside bottom. OK, maybe that’s just mine but, regardless, these showers are amazing…but they usually have doors. In most cases it’s a classy looking glass door on a hinge or possibly two panes of glass that slide alongside one another so you can get in and then close everything back up and let the steam dream begin. So what happens when the shower only has one door? One pane of glass only and a huge fucking gap with no discernible cover, lining, curtain or shield from the inevitable spray of water that will shoot through it onto the floor. What happens is just as one would expect: liquid destruction.
I would say that in most of my relationships water on the floor from the shower, whether from me not properly securing the curtain or door or simply by not drying myself well enough before I step out, has caused at least 71% of major battles fought. I am not sure what disconnect happens when I am immersed in that hot water but for whatever reason I lose the ability to understand the consequences of not securing doors and curtains or allowing my large and mildly hairy body to drain all over a dry bathroom floor. Sadly, I also fail to properly dry the floor and surrounding area post-shower so I am really my own worst enemy in this whole thing, and certainly deserve the resulting wrath from my other half when it comes. So, in the interest of trying harder with my current girlfriend and not being the normally selfish, sloppy, lazy bastard I often am, I paid careful and close attention to the shower situation at our hotel. OK, yes I know it was not our home and a little water here and there wouldn’t cause a monster battle but no one wants to come into a soaking wet bathroom so I studied this situation carefully when I first walked into the bathroom of our hotel. Carefully, curiously and frustratingly.
The shower was missing half a door! There was no other pane of glass on the open side, there was no sneaky little curtain built into the wall or the metal brace above and there was no marvel of engineering that set the shower up in such a way that water flowing from above or any of the attachments wouldn’t spray everywhere out through the “WTF Gap” and soak the floor, walls, toilet and entire bathroom…or was there?? The first thing I tried was the dangling attachment that was hooked to the wall and sort of looked like a metal baton with a few holes in it. I couldn’t really imagine how this attachment would benefit anyone in a shower setting unless they were using it to clean the inside of their body through careful insertion (or other personal enjoyment activities that I can’t discuss in such a family oriented column as this), but I wanted to turn it on and see what happened nonetheless. Well, a half second in the little metal wet wonder wand was slashing around violently and whacked the one piece of glass that did exist in the shower and almost destroyed it, while simultaneously soaking me and the towels that were previously dry and folded on the rack above. Epic fail. Owned. Etc.
My follow up plan was to turn on the Elephant shower attachment that was attached to the ceiling, and I know, because I am very smart-ish , that in order to get water flowing to that location I may have to use a doohickey or lever of some sort to divert the flow to that area and away from the psychotic wet death stick. So, I searched around and found a little black knob and pushed it up and then turned on the water again. A few tiny drips from the above shower head, but nothing exciting. At least the attachment was no longer trying to kill everything in its path so it felt like a small victory. What I started thinking to myself was that, were I able to get the ceiling mounted showerhead flowing, maybe the other shower door wasn’t needed. Maybe the WTF Gap was there to make ease of access and exit smooth as possible and that the shower had been designed in some amazing way that my feeble mind couldn’t comprehend and that as soon as I actually got that water flowing from above and stood in the shower, incredibly the moisture would be self-contained within my little stone cavern and not spray and leak out onto the floor and walls. All I needed was to get that showerhead going…
I won’t comment on the reasons why I wasn’t able to discover the actual device that activated the showerhead and why in fact it was my girlfriend who located this and got it working but let’s just say that I wanted her to feel important and smart because that’s how I roll. Either that or I occasionally have the common sense of the average Lima Bean. In any case, the showerhead was now ready to rock so I secured the Silver Drizzle Death Wand to its post, and turned the water on. Jackpot! Water was gushing from the showerhead above and filling the shower with warm, wet goodness and sheets of relaxing steam! It was also sending 90% of its moisture right out the fucking WTF Gap, all over the bathroom floor and scorching my skin in the process. See, the beauty of the WTF Gap is that it was apparently created on the side where a moveable door may have at one time existed so on the other side where the piece of glass exists (the “half door”) it’s fixed to the wall. It doesn’t open so you’re forced to sort of lean in and turn on the water unless you want to risk the sheer horror of starting the shower while you’re already fully in it. My experience with this in the past has been slightly worse than miserable so the lean-in was my preferred method in this instance. Water was intermittently scalding me, soaking me, bouncing off me and onto every square inch of the bathroom and with the general exception of the shower drain in the floor.
I am a big, burly man and I tend to get dirty from time to time, and after spending several hours in Greenwich Village that day I NEEDED a shower. So I got in and hoped that maybe the presence of me inside there would help channel the water flow down the drain and not entirely out the WTF Gap, but my hopes were dashed as I watch instant lakes form on the pseudo-stone tile floor as I began to wash my Grundle (see “Taint” or…just don’t ask) and the water shot off me like popcorn kernels landing on the surface of the sun. This wasn’t my place, I had enough towels to dry the floor and I wasn’t about to try and make one of my legendary sexy moves on my girlfriend Lenore if I wasn’t fully scrubbed so I just finished my shower, starting out the WTF Gap the whole time like some sad child watching his carnival balloon slowly deflate as he held it. Why? Just…why?
A short time later I went to the front desk and asked the Desk Clerk about the shower situation and she explained “I know, it’s really strange huh? Well I think what happened some time ago was that someone fell and broke the glass and hurt themselves so the company just ended up removing the actual door part.” I smiled and nodded and walked away, wondering how the #%!^$ removing just that one pane of glass, the part that slides, would do anything to avoid accidents? Couldn’t someone still fall in the shower and hit the other pane of glass and end up impaling themselves or worse, step OUT of the shower and slip on the river of sudsy wetness that was all over the freaking floor and injure themselves in a variety of fun ways on a multitude of objects in the bathroom?? I needed answers!!!! But the explanation I received at the desk was likely all I would be getting, and sometimes in life you need to accept that fact that there will not always be the closure you seek in every situation. Trust me, I can do just fine in a world where destroying a bathroom with sloppiness, water and stupidity is acceptable but come on, a fancy NYC hotel? Shame on you, folks. You guys need to be the role models for the slacker, easy way out, no-more-effort-than-needed idiots like me out there. I simply can’t be expected to clean up my act if you guys can’t even put a real door on your showers. I blame you. And Obamacare. And George W. Bush and Haliburton.
Despite the shower and the WTF Gap, the Hotel Empire is actually a fantastic hotel with a great staff and in a phenomenal location and their rooms are beautiful. Would I stay there again? Absolutely (free of charge with a voucher they provide after reading this??), and I would even recommend it. To people who don’t ever sweat, smell, get dirty or that enjoy hydroplaning while brushing their teeth J
Friday, September 27, 2013
"Vulnerability is the oxygen to the lungs of intimacy".
One of the most poignant quotes I have heard in a long time. For years I tried to eloquently explain the concept of "true intimacy" to myself and others and although the substance of what I was saying may have been understood and absorbed by some, those nine simple words say it perfectly.
We all have our own definitions of "Intimacy". Many of us, likely men, believe it's something in the sexual realm that likely involves nudity and possibly penetration. Others feel it's simply comfort and closeness with another person, friend, family member or lover. Of course it's all of those things, but at it's heart it's something far more profound and powerful: it's the essence of love itself. I am almost forty-four years old, and in those years I would guess that I have loved a couple dozen or so people, including family, lovers, friends, etc. Of that group of people, as far as I can recall, every one of them have told me they love me as well. However, when I dissect the relationships, especially those that have failed in the romantic realm, I start to discover that what I have come to define as love as may not be what was being shared between us at all.
In college I wrote a paper that passionately told the story of how much I loved riding motorcycles, primarily because I was an adrenaline junkie with a mild death wish, but that's irrelevant in this discussion. The last line of my paper stated that "the true meaning of life lies on the thread which binds it to death," and in some ways I still believe that even though I no longer own a motorcycle and these days getting out of bed to take a leak at 3am presents it's own set of aches and pains and near death experiences as I almost trip over things I left strewn on the floor (see: death wish). The point is, that line has essentially the same meaning as what intimacy is to love, in that in order for you to truly experience the meaning or true power of love you need to be at the absolute limits of vulnerability. In my experiences with my family it's always been pretty easy to make ourselves vulnerable and exposed as none of us have ever had much difficulty expressing how we feel, what pisses us off about the others, what our fears and insecurities are or how we feel we may need to improve ourselves. My father was one of the most self-deprecating people on Earth, at times telling me things like "I think I have failed at almost everything in my life, except that beautiful moment where I helped make you." OK, yes it sounds like a bit of a Hallmark moment, and it was, but often he would go on to say that it was "quite possibly in the back seat of a Chevelle in the middle of some fucking cornfield when your mother was stoned" so, no need to get the Kleenex just yet :)
My father and the rest of us Abares were always good about loving through and with vulnerability, but in many of my romantic relationships sadly that wasn't the case. While I have always been the poster boy for the "heart on his sleeve" type and was comfortable keeping myself well exposed in order to create the best possible environment for love to take root and grow (and not just literally exposed, though 79% of most of my relationships I was), many of my partners weren't willing to be. The question of how I found myself drawn to those types of women of the years is a question for the ages and may never have an answer, but as my dad used to say "Son, I think your picker is broken". In some cases yes, I made some horrible choices and should have known better and taken responsibility for that, but even in those instances there were elements of the relationship that were healthy and promising, though looking back now it certainly does come down to an unwillingness to be be vulnerable. A steadfast fight to not expose themselves, be caught with the cliched "walls" down, open up and volunteer their fears, insecurities and failures...because of course when the floodgates open and those emotions and admissions become part of the fabric of the relationship, then lies the potential for heartbreak, as one can't fully be harmed if they never invested fully in the first place.
We can't give anyone our love, our true and total self, if we're not willing to let them see ALL of us.
Over the years I have heard within a couple relationships that I share too much, that I hold nothing back and that I am "too honest" sometimes. That's like telling me I am "too sexy" or a fish that he's awesome at swimming, it makes not an ounce of sense. OK, yes, I understand it's possible to overshare sometimes in a public setting or with a mixed crowd, but in the confines of a relationship I honestly believe there should exist no such constraints. Allowing oneself to be vulnerable and freely expressing opinions, doubts, fears and failures is the only way to build a real foundation in love, and certainly the only recipe for love that is lasting. I think so many of us get blinded by the beacon of comfort, or hypnotized by the lure of financial freedom or worse, intoxicated by the fruits of sexual chemistry. Relationships of any kind thrive best when both individuals are giving themselves to the other free of accessories, conditions, or limitations, as some clenched and protective fist, but rather as an imperfect yet beautifully exposed set of fingers of an open hand ready to be drawn into another.
For the first time in my life, in a romantic relationship, I feel like not only am I vulnerable and open and willing to experience true intimacy, but the woman I am with is as well. There are no boundaries, no secrets and no limitations on what's shared, discussed or experienced and the very idea that there could be seems ludicrous to each of us. I am a flawed man, that much has never been in question, but for the first time in my life I feel like someone not only accepts that but that they appreciate my honestly about it. I don't exist in some delusional reality where I pretend to be without scars on my soul and blemishes in my character, and I know that my journey to self improvement will never be complete. Life is an endless lesson and our experiences influence how and what we learn, but it's our choices that end up defining us. The choice I made a long time ago to be open and honest about even the ugliest parts of me and deepest of fears was a good one, a very good one, and the choice to be in the relationship I am now was a great one.With a continued pledge to be forthright, honest, vulnerable and therefore totally intimate with her, with a little luck I will have a relationship for the ages to talk about someday with some young couple on a park bench somewhere. Hopefully they will share even half of what I have with my girl.
It's scary as hell to risk being vulnerable with anyone, let alone a lover that might end up trashing you to the masses on Facebook or YouTube or to co-workers, etc., but it's the only way to feel love and intimacy in it's most pure form and to it's most extreme level. Vulnerability is the oxygen to the lungs of intimacy. Taking that deep breath that's so terrifying as you feel yourself start to fall. The true meaning of life lies on the thread which binds it to death. Nothing makes us feel more alive than the sheer panic that comes from being in love. In the end though, if you do it right and hold nothing back, the joy and the rewards are intangibly satisfying and pay dividends to all those around us. So take a deep breath, my friends.
One of the best books I've read in the last few years is "The Courage to Write" by Ralph Keyes. Without doing a full review, i...
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