Getting wet, with no regrets Adults grow into the concept of the outdoor shower.

August 13, 1998|By Laura Lippman

The first time was outside, truly outside, with nothing to protect you. It wasn't that great. In fact, it was downright uncomfortable.

And you were only 8 years old.

We're talking about the outdoor shower, of course. Because there are really only three kinds of people at the beach -- those who don't, those who do and those who only do it when there's sand in their suits.

The outdoor shower is one of those rare things that is better than you remember. Partly, this is because bathing becomes so much more attractive as you age. (We hope.) But it's also because the outdoor shower has been canny enough to avail itself of modern improvements, while retaining its basic nature.

What was once a rusty, cold-water-only spigot jutting from a wall is now an enclosed space, preferably beneath the house. There are hooks for clothes and towels. Hot and cold water, with adequate pressure. (A little rust remains, because it is the beach, after all.) And all the accessories that Crabtree & Evelyn can provide, at least in this particular enclosure somewhere north of Fenwick.

Just as air and water meet, oxidizing all metals, the beach air and the shower water combine here for a singular sensation. Your sun-hot skin seems to sizzle under the water, releasing a fragrance stronger than any perfumed soap or shampoo. (Has anyone ever thought about a cologne called "The Beach"?) You could stay here until your fingers turned prune-like, but others are waiting, and the hot water tank is not bottomless.

The passage from youth to adulthood may be defined by the moment in which you realize you go to the beach in order to have the shower.

Pub Date: 8/13/98

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