The Whore’s Bath

On days when I do not have access to a shower, and still need to bathe, I give myself what is known as a “whore’s bath”… Pits, tits, and naughty bits. Presumably named after the brief cleaning prostitutes perform between clients. How a Whore’s Bath, you give yourself, differs from a Sponge Bath, you may be given in a hospital, is its brevity… It is not a thorough cleaning… Its purpose is, only, to wash away the smells of the human stench. The etymology of the phrase is in dispute, but many a World War II veteran says it was in common usage during their theatre (in military parlance, “theatre” refers to the war(s) in which a particular soldier served). In those situations in which a soldier was either constantly under fire or without access to the proper facilities, the whore’s bath served to preserve the soldier’s dignity and helped him cling to the vestiges of his humanity. Typically performed by cleaning their armpits, genitalia, and anus (in that order), using one’s helmet as a basin.

Being adequately bathed has a civilizing quality. Which is probably why the oldest of civilizations created bath houses. Archaeologists list the Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro as one of the earliest public baths in history. Located in Sindh, Pakistan, the bath dates back to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, 3000 B.C., one of the three oldest human civilizations, next to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

The Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro is possibly the oldest standing public bathhouse in the world. Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0
The Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro is possibly the oldest standing public bathhouse in the world. ~ Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

Contrary to popular belief, ancient peoples were not adverse to bathing. In fact, some anthropologist suggest that public bathing (in the form of the bath house) was the basis for the community itself. Read, the excellently written, A Brief History Of Bathing for more.

I have mentioned in a few of my other articles, how this experience of being homeless has opened a window upon my soul. I find myself thinking about topics I have never considered before. In large part, a person is the sum total of the decisions they make. I don’t know where this journey is taking me. I am, definitely, on Robert Frost’s ~ The Road Not Taken. And like the traveler in that poem, I’m taking the road “less traveled by.” And I anticipate, in my life, this will make “all the difference.”

Expert Bather
Expert Bather

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