hello, you've been in there too long.

i took baths up until the age of six or seven. when i was really little, our family's helper, manang, would give me a bath. she'd scrub my head with johnson's baby shampoo, and when it got in my eyes, it would sting like crazy. that's all i really remember. the baby shampoo, and not much else. i don't remember using soap or lathering myself up like i do now. after the bath, i'd dry off and then apply johnson's baby powder around my neck and underarms. manang would say, keeleh-keeleh power (tagalog for "underarm power")! sometimes, not always, i'd also put johnson's baby oil on my arms and legs, and maybe johnson's baby cologne on my face, neck and chest. i loved the way it smelled.

i heard the song "splish splash" when i was kid, and the thought of spending a saturday night alone in a bathtub greatly appealed to me. some nights, after soccer practice, i'd fill up the tub, and i'd place my small radio on the sink's counter, or else on top of the toilet. i'd listen to my all-4-one tape, or boyz to men, and later still, r.e.m. imagine this filipino kid, eight years old, lying in a bathtub by himself, listening to "end of the road." yep, that was me.

my dad would barge in sometimes and say, you've been in there too long! and this would annoy me. why couldn't he just let me be? why couldn't i just live in that warm bubbly bathtub? someone once told me that if my fingers got wrinkly, then i was spending too much time in the water. bollocks, i say. i liked seeing my fingers turn into prunes, and i liked being underwater in my tub. i remember even thinking that one day i was gonna grow up to be big enough to fill the tub completely. and when it happened, i remember thinking back to that thought i had as a kid. it scared and saddened me a bit, knowing that i had grown up and old so fast.

and then there's the sensation of knowing i really had spent enough time in the tub. by then, the cassingle was long over, and i had just been lying there in silence, maybe hearing the faint television in the living room. my parents watching 20/20 or 60 minutes. through the wall, i could hear them talking to one another. i'd open the drain by stomping on it with my heel, and then there'd be the glug glug sound of the water disappearing. i'd lie there until all the water would rush out from under me. i'd imagine that this is what it must feel like when your soul leaves.

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