a miniature mountain troll

“Wait, you’re going back to work after this? Without a shower?”

Sneaking over to crossfit during my lunch break has made me a lightning fast clothes changer—a skill I initially got to practice as a theatre kid in high school. It’s also giving me an entirely deserved reputation for terrible grodyness. But I have a well recorded history of similar behavior, so it was bound to come out sooner or later.

Growing up, I was a dirty, barefoot, hooligan of a child who would stoop to any depths to avoid the torturous process of becoming clean. My mom had this rule that we had to shower at least every other night. I suspect she just got tired of harassing us (read: me – I don’t think my sister was the problem here) every night and wanted an evening off in between. I didn’t realize until I was much older that most of the world prefers not to go to bed crusted in berry juice, pond water, cow shit, and who knows what else; most of the world showers EVERY night (or day, at least). What a novelty THAT was to discover.

I soon found out that dear mum had a lot on her plate and could easily be misled by extreme decisiveness on my part and some slight backing from my sister.

“Girls, time to get ready for bed. Is tonight a shower night?”

“NO! I showered LAST night.”

This line would generally work for several nights in a row until I became so inescapably disgusting that nobody could fail to notice my resemblance to a miniature mountain troll. Then I would take the most cursory shower possible during which I would probably wash either my face OR my body OR my hair, but never all three.

My parents had similarly frustrating experiences trying to get me to brush my teeth or hair or, for that matter, to wash my hands. I couldn’t see the point of these actions because, to my eight-year-old self, brushed teeth and washed hands looked pretty much the same as unbrushed teeth and germy hands. And brushing my hair provided such a temporary improvement that it was hardly worth the trouble.

When I was 11, I spent one sunny Friday afternoon happily graffitiing the barn walls with pokeberries. The fact that I had a tiny part in a play at the local theatre and had to go on stage that night didn’t seem like a problem to me . . . until I was dropped off at said theatre with purple hands and was immediately attacked with rubbing alcohol by a frazzled looking stage manager. I believe my hands were only faintly bluish by the time I actually got on stage, so I probably just looked like I had really poor circulation or something.

My physical appearance wasn’t the only thing lacking in those years. I simply failed to measure grossness in the same way other people would.

“Mum! Anna has a piece of paper towel floating in her glass!”

I was eating dinner over at my best friend’s house when she spotted this horrifying kitchen oversight. Now, I believe the normal reaction to finding a possibly dirty foreign substance, one that has probably gone through the dish washer, floating around in your drink is to start spitting and coughing and feeling generally grossed out. At the very least, most people refuse to drink it. Be me?

“That’s okay! It doesn’t taste bad.”

I happily sipped out of the dirty glass until it was whisked out of my reach and replaced with a fresh one.

Although I suffered no ill effects from paper-towel contamination at such a young age, some of my other less-than-hygienic behavior did accomplish quite a bit of damage, which changed my behavior not in the least bit.

You would think that getting multiple blood-borne diseases (the kind you get from ticks you met up with while bumming around in the woods) by the time you’re 12 might emphasize the importance of cleanliness in one’s day-to-day routine.  But no. That was about the age when I started getting seriously into riding horses, so instead we just get to add some new kinds of dirt and a horrible case of helmet hair to the mix. And the smell of horse sweat. There’s nothing quite like it. Although after a few years, I became immune to it and happily (if unwittingly) braved public places smelling like the worst parts of a barn.

So yeah. I feel like a little crossfit during my lunch break is comparatively civilized. I even brush my hair and put on extra deodorant afterward! What more could you ask for? 


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