Another girl you should date.
In response to: “The Girl You Should Be Dating.”
Date a girl who takes baths.
Date a girl who spends money on Epsom salts instead of clothes. She has a problem with closet space, in particular with that spot under the bathroom sink because of all the soaps and essential oils. Date a girl who makes castles float on water, who can make it hotter or colder with just one toe, who knows that small yellow ducks do more than float, they listen.
Find a girl who takes baths. You’ll know she does because she’ll always leave the party early. She’s the one in the corner holding a hot toddy, not because she likes the taste, but because she likes to stick her pointer in and listen. She’s the one swirling it till seven o’clock rolls around and she can do up her cardigan and leave. She’s the girl who politely declines and goes home, who sleeps with a hot water bottle because she’d rather be warm and alone, than cold and with somebody.
She’s the girl in the second-hand shop down the street.
You’ll notice her because she’ll look like she’s from another era. Who wears scarves and gloves and things. Who peels off her clothing, slowly, so she can imagine the stories of the sweaters before her. A girl who understands that the pleasure is in getting undressed, not dressed. Date a girl who’s not afraid to disappear completely. When you’ve wondered where she’s gone, look down by your feet. You’ll find her used clothing like snakes on the cold tile floor.
Date a girl who’s not afraid to make a beard and wear one. When you meet her, she’ll notice yours. The time and care you took in growing, the tiny bits of red, or grey. The bald patch on your cheek or the way it swirls under your chin will inspire her to have fun with foamy shapes later. But when she goes home and gathers all the bubbles on her chest into two pointy white mountain tops and looks up at you with puppy-dog eyes, pop every one and tell her they’re perfect just the way there are.
When she feels morose she thinks how Sexton and Plath both died in the bath. Well not really, but she likes to imagine that they did. Comfort her when she’s sad: your warmth will make her feel strong and fragile—yet safe.
It’s easy to date a girl who takes baths.
Buy her a loofah or pumice stone. If you’re confused about what either of these things are, pick up any old rock and give it to her. Tell her you bought it around the corner at her favorite health food store.
Watch her. Upon first glance, it may appear as though she’s staring at the blank tiling in front of her, but really she’s imagining she’s Lady Ophelia, drifting down the river with flowers in her hair. Either that, or she’s counting the hairs she missed while shaving her toes.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not?
Girls who take baths understand that people, like fruity-scented bath bombs, take shape, expand.
If you find a girl who takes baths, keep her close.
When you find her up at 2 a.m. standing ankle-deep in water cold and weeping because she made it too hot, turn the faucet to the left and hold her. While you’re waiting for it to cool down, put on Joni and hold her, tighter. Look into her bloodshot eyes and tell her to keep on crying, that she was going to add salt to the water anyway. You may lose her for a couple hours but she will always come back to you. And when she climbs into bed with her fingers all wrinkly, kiss every one and tell her you’ll love her even when her whole body is like that too, one day.
Put the lid down first. She’ll say yes by smiling and sliding over. You’ll both squat, knees jutting up and touching. One person’s back will jam against the faucet. The water will be cold because you spent a lot of time preparing.
You will see her with her face of bubbles and wonder how you’ve fallen so hard for a lady with a beard. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will teach your children the difference between what is half-empty and what is half-full, that patience is a virtue, that if it doesn’t work out the first time, you can drain it all and start again.
Because a girl who takes baths knows that things don’t stay hot forever. That life is meant to have a burn or two.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta