I’ve always dreamed of an outdoor shower. Our friend, Rich, has one and it’s the bomb~a Hawaiian fortress surrounded by black lava and wild tropical plants. Whenever we visit, I go all Howard Hughes, showering 10 times a day. I just can’t get enough. In the morning, I gaze up at palm trees rustling in the trade winds. In the afternoon, I love coming straight from the sea, washing off the salt water, an icy Corona at the ready on the lava rock shampoo ledge. And at night, a million stars twinkle in the velvety black sky.
Wouldn’t it be cool to have an outdoor shower, I asked Jimmy? We’d feel as if we were on vacation every day.
Finally this summer, we decided to go for it. Just a simple, no-frills bamboo shower a la Gilligan’s Island. How difficult could it be, we wondered? How expensive? Very and very, it turns out. But let me start at the beginning.
First we decided on the location: a dirt and sand-filled space off the back side of our house, choked with weeds and a heap of old shit we didn’t want but were too lazy to deal with. I am kicking myself for not snapping a “before” pic. Trust me when I say our teens’ favorite word, ghetto, describes the spot perfectly. However, the close proximity to the hot water heater was a deal sealer.
The proposed site was a good twenty feet from our neighbors’ single story home but I figured it would be well, neighborly to give them a head’s up.
A late 60’s couple with no children, the Jensons* are the nicest people ever. They are as close to Amish as you can get on the grid. For the 11 years we’ve lived here they’ve watered their lawn every morning with a hose, and on top of their roof sits a ginormous, prehistoric silver antenna that powers up either their vintage black and white television console or a ham radio. Not sure which—I’ve never asked.
(*name changed to protect the almost Amish)
Before we broke ground, I paid them a visit. “We’ll mostly just be rinsing off after swimming or surfing,” I explained. “I hope we won’t disturb you.”
They exchanged a worrisome glance. Joseph gulped. “We won’t be able to see you naked, will we?” asked tiny, birdlike Mae in her heavy Japanese accent.
“Oh no, ” I laughed, explaining that, should they ever scale the 6-foot fence separating our properties, Desmond, our contractor friend, planned to incorporate an ultra-private bamboo corridor making it impossible to see us shower from their vantage point.
“Oh, okay,” they said,” they said, still sounding uneasy.
All summer Desmond, Jimmy and I worked on the shower house. Okay, mostly Des did. But I did go to the rockery to help choose the flagstone and Jimmy did slather grout.
There were a couple of snafus like when I asked Des to dig a French drain even though— duh!—the sewer line runs directly by the shower. And oh yeah, Jimmy may have over indulged in Dos Equis the night he grouted the flagstone because he didn’t scrape off the excess before it dried…
…making my fantasy project look like Fred Flintstone’s Stone Age shower. Poor Des had to power wash it off with some gnarly toxic chemicals during a heatwave while I plied him with Otter Pops and prayed he didn’t pass out.
Finally the outdoor shower was done!
Since we the first day we christened her, both bars of Dove soap in our indoor bathrooms showers have endured minimal shrinkage. Why bathe inside when you can add a pop of alfresco fun to the daily grind?
Even though the view doesn’t exactly look like Hawaii—instead of swaying palms and stars, I gaze up at that massive Ham radio antenna on my neighbor’s roof—the shower is my own little piece of paradise.
Dearest Desmond even gave me a flagstone ledge for my bottle of icy Corona.