Growing up, bathing was always an issue. Nagymama felt that excessive baths led to:
-Red Hair (which makes you look like a whore)
-All your hair falling out (well, at least it won’t be red anymore)
-Kidney infections (resulting in death)
I was allowed to take a bath once a week, but showering was forbidden. Nagymama claimed that standing in shower would expose my organs and give me pneumonia. “Ve don’t have insurance, so you’ll die.”
Once I became a teenager and aware of hygiene, this became a huge issue. I had to wait until Nagymama fell asleep and quietly wriggle out of bed, which was difficult since she tied the corner of the blanket to the mattress with shoelaces and surrounded the bed with high-backed chairs to prevent me from rolling out of bed (see also: The Movie).
If Nagymama woke up and noticed I was missing, she would start screaming and banging on the bathroom door. I had about 2 minutes to finish the shower until she was able to pick the door lock, barge in, and physically pull me out of the shower, regardless of the fact that I was naked, soapy, and really pissed off. She and my mom would then would take turns blow drying my hair for an hour until it was drier than the Sahara. I can smell the burning hair just thinking about it.
I was feeling a little yucky one day after school, so I was determined to take a shower. I taped the door shut, and put a chair in the way so I could shower in peace. Once she noticed that I wasn’t in my room, she immediately started panicking and screaming.
“You cannot shower while you are menstruating, Stephie!” she yelled in Hungarian through the door, “You will BLEED TO DEATH!”
“Leave me ALOOOOOOOOOONE!” I said, rubbing my head with the Johnson & Johnson Tear-Free Baby Shampoo. It was the product I was allowed to use besides Dove soap, which Nagymama liked to use to try to scrub the red out of my hair.
I heard her rummaging around her key box to try to find her lock pick. She gasped when she realised it was gone. I smiled; I had brought it into the bathroom with me. I hummed to myself as she scuffled around outside, screaming, cursing, and attempting to pick the lock.
Maybe I’ll stay in here forever, I thought, using my secret ladies’ razor to shave my legs. I cut my lip with a razor when I was five years old after seeing a men’s shaving commercials. Since then, my family didn’t want me around sharp objects, so I had to hide my razor with my old Barbies.
All of a sudden, I heard a terrible crash and felt a gust of cold air. Nagymama had taken the door off the hinges to get in the bathroom.
The noise startled me so much that I cut right into my knee, and the scar is still there to this day. She pointed to my bleeding leg. “YOU SEE! Showering makes you BLEED to death!!!” she screamed, throwing a towel on me. She left the door off the bathroom for about a month as my punishment.
Needless to say, we didn’t invite too many people over to visit.