Two Baths

Posted on July 7, 2009

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By Alice Burroughs

Saturday: RAIN CLOUDS FILL THE SKY and hipsters dressed in purple hoodies fill the concert grounds. Everyone is wearing their best and tightest pants and my feet are covered in mud.
I scan the crowd for Josh but he is nowhere to be seen. The crowd is dull and unwilling to feel any of the music pouring over them. The band is as irritable as cold rain. It is alright though, there will be more bands to come.

Sunday: I decide to have a Big Lebowski bath. In the movie, Lebowski sits in a tub surrounded by multi-colored candles. The room is dim and he fits perfectly in his tub, smoking on a small roach and enjoying himself. The Lebowski bath always seemed like the most serene of activities to me, a dream of mine. My only hope is that unlike the Big Lebowski, nihilists don’t burst into my bathroom and toss a marmot into the foamy soup.

My body is aching from the night before and when I remove my clothes I realize I am covered in bruises, cuts and gashes. My face is nearly black. I pour bubble bath into the steaming tub. A hillside of foam sprouts from the field of water.

Saturday: Josh and I are in line at the beer tent. He has given me a fist full of tickets he “swiped” from the mobile vendor. We each walk around the muddy concert grounds, weaving in and out of the crowds, sipping on the necks of our beer bottles and searching for some energy.

Suddenly a girl in a purple checkered scarf runs up to us. She is wearing a pair of the shorts and the scarf, nothing else.
“Josh!” she yells and gives him a hug.
My eyes are wild with curiosity!
“Hey Mary-Kate,” he says awkwardly and takes three sips of beer.
“Who is this?” I ask.
“This is Mary-Kate,” he says, “she’s my assistant at work.”
“I’m his druuuuuuuunk assistant!” she says and then from the tight back pocket of her definitively short shorts she pulls a joint. We sit on the hill and we drink and we smoke until inhibitions are no longer welcome in this land.

Sunday: I sit in the bath and cannot fit. This is clearly a tub made for small, elegant people. I am a poor postured woman, I am a decrepit youth. I take a long drag of a small joint and I begin to imagine. I lay and watch as the small mountains of my knees and gelatinous canyons of my belly form a countryside within the bath. Little clouds of foam encircle every part of me and stars made of candle light fill the sky around us. My head is the moon. I am the watchful moon gazing upon this sorry landscape. I can feel myself aging in this bath, I can feel myself dying. My eyes follow the path of steam rising from the water up toward the shower-head. I stare at the shower-head as if it were a creature from another place. It is a metallic alien with two dozen eyes arranged in a neat circle upon its face.

Saturday: I have never told anyone this, but I am a master in the Jeet-Kun-Do of moving through a crowd. As a crowd master I am able to work my way to the front using little resistance. I avoid pushing and fighting, I become one with anyone grooving to a song. I can even conduct a crowd. To conduct a crowd you must be at the front. You must be in tune with the music and you have to jump higher than everyone. You have to make your pounding fist an antennae to both the band and crowd. It is the highest skill of the master.

I am weaving my lucid body through the crowd. People are pushing me, splashing mud up upon me. People are feeling the song. The singer shouts words over us rhythmically. Josh is gone, the assistant girl is gone- I am alone. I am being kicked and thrown around. I can smell the shit of port-o-potties, I can smell sweat and I can feel energy rising up within the group. People are starting to unite under a single tune. I can feel the beginnings of a synergy. I slide through shoulders and let people push me forward. I help a girl who is being roughed up by two drunken men. A joint is jumping between people’s fingers and I borrow it for a while. The music is getting louder, my feet wetter, my body less my own and more a part of the whole.

Sunday: I am afraid. Is someone knocking on the door? I am alone and the darkness creeping around the candle light frightens me to the core. I fear someone has broken in to my house and that I am going to be murdered. I wonder what murder amidst candle like would be like. I conclude that it would be overshadowed by the fact of being murdered naked. I couldn’t bear a bunch of police standing over my naked body, tracing chalk around my genitals and photographing my shame. That would be quite the legacy- my hideous nudity filed forever in a police evidence cabinet, brought only to light for the trial and an occasional laugh from the officers at the local precinct.

I pull the plug on the bath with my big toe.

Saturday: I am in the front and the headlining band steps on to the stage for their encore. I can hear nothing but the crowd cheering, a sound which my voice is totally a part of. I am jumping, screaming and covered in sweat. I have been kicked, punched and bloodied from an hour of moshing. I have lost my wallet, found a pair of sunglasses and fallen in love twice. Now I can feel my abdomen pressing hard against the front row rail.

The singer takes the microphone into his hand and sings.
“La La La La La…” It is the beginning of their biggest song.

The crowd explodes and I am caught in the shock-wave. I am jumping and flailing, I am singing and filled with strength and passion. I jump higher I scream louder and I can feel it. I can feel myself taking over, I have grabbed everyone and I am conducting. Everything that happens now stems from my fist, I am performing magic, Godliness is seeping out of my body and the Universe agrees.

Sunday: I let the water drain from the tub and I am left with nothing but the foam. Steam is still coming from my body and I cannot move. The fear seems to have drained from me as well and the shower-head becomes a shower-head again. My body becomes flesh again and the aliens and mountains and stars disappear. All that remains is my soggy body and the sweet smell of Honey Vanilla Yogurt flavored bubble bath.

Monday: Stack papers. Sort files. Check e-mail. Check Twitter. Go to staff meeting. Listen to weekly initiatives. Fail to contribute to the group. Sort more files. Read an account statement. Answer a call from HR. Discuss my recent blog posting. Take twenty minutes to send a fax. Coffee. Coffee. Shit on the toilet. Wrap my head in toilet paper and imagine I am mummified.

Alice Burroughs lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is the author of a number of short stories which cannot be found anywhere. She plays her guitar outside of The Brown Bean coffee shop every Friday. She wrote this story after attending a concert this weekend.

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Posted in: July 2009