I’m a bath person. It’s something of a spiritual observance for me, so I take my enjoyment of it seriously. It’s all about the psychic decontamination and decompression procedures. You pick up a lot of radiation out there among the road mutants, and the general scrum of existence needs to be regularly soaked out, like a form of toxic waste.

At a minimum, I’ve got to have candles, incense or bath salts, and preferably all three. No interruptions to my mental space are allowed. The cats get the boot and all lines are busy! Preferably, the bath has access to lots and lots of hot water – about 35% scalding and 65% uncomfortably hot. Nothing’s worse than a hot-soon-to-be-tepid tub. Yeagh!

Ideally, the tub should have a good amount of depth. Shallow bathtubs just don’t cut the mustard. Those crazy overflow drains they have under the faucets are the bane of my bath-existence. Stopping the flow of water is priority one, if I’m going to get any depth out of the average tub. I have a plastic contraption that fits over them, but it only works on smooth surface models. Usually I have to rely on a washcloth jammed neatly into the holes.

When I was in Japan, I made it a point to travel to as many bathhouses as I could, and I got to see the masters at work. Sitting in a stone bath with a view from the 34th floor of the Tokyo skyline gives you an idea of how far the decadence can go. Then there was that hot spring up in the hills, far from the beaten gaijin track.  I don’t think I need the supersaturated, volcanic mineral water that technically was boiling for my pipe dream, but it’s nice to see what kind of optional widgets you could put in the mix.

I go on estate sales, and one of the fun parts is the exploration of the house and seeing how the layout unfolds. I keep an eye out for interesting bathroom constructions, and I’ve seen a few cool ideas now and then. My favorite had to be the townhouse where the former occupant had completely renovated the top floor around a huge master bathroom built to specification. There was no denying the woman took her bath time seriously, and had achieved some measure of that pipe dream.

We’re out there. The bath people. Performing our personal, alchemical ceremonies – but to what purpose? Are we modern day warriors purifying ourselves in the fight against barbarism?