Practical, everyday, applied philosophy, as Nietzsche suggested

Bathing with The Philosopher

Bathing with the Philosopher-Prophet


I just want to show you how little we can get by with, without really sacrificing anything.

This is my bathing routine. Because of it I have had nothing but problems with my landlady

and the house administration, who will not accept that it is possible to use as little water

as I do. They insist I have my water meters checked, even though they are fairly new. They keep

overcharging me for water. And, I think maliciously, they will not accept any of the documentation

I offer proving my water use, including obtrusive and un-announced ‘secret’ intrusions by the house

administration’s chairlady.

So. Get yourself a micro-fibre cleaning cloth for a few dollars from the supermarket or discounter.

Get a bar of soap or liquid soap. Get a big plastic cup. If you don’t have a bath-tub or shower with

a plug, buy a big plastic pond-thingy from the hardward store.

Now stand in the bath-tub, shower, or ‘pond’. Fill your big plastic cup up with warm water, and soak

your micro-fibre cloth in it. Pour the water over your head etc, and repeat a few times till you are wet all over. Then rub some soap into your wet hair and lather it up good. Then cup some of the foam with your hands and rub it over your armpits, groin, etc, thus re-using the excess foam. Now rub some soap into your damp micro-fiber cloth until it is lathered up a bit. Then rub the cloth all over your body and face. Then place the cloth in the cup as you fill it again with warm water. This time it will flow more easily over your skin, as it will be really lathered up. So now wash yourself with the cloth, including your face.

Repeat this until the cloth is free from soap, and you have rubbed yourself all over with the micro-fiber cloth a few times. Then fill your cup up and pour the warm water over your head and target any areas that are still soapy. Repeat this a few times until you are clean.

And thus you have bathed and washed your hair (if it is short like mine) in less than a bucket of warm water. And you are clean. You haven’t been soaking in your own filth, as some like to refer to ‘having a bath’.

But wait, there’s more. Now you have a tub with some warm soapy water. Don’t waste it. You can hand-wash, or more precisely ‘foot-stomp-wash’ a few items of clothing, especially socks and so on. Good, now you have done your day’s washing. But you still have the warm soapy water. So now you can use this water to rinse your mop, mop your floors quickly, and rinse it again. And if you are a boy, you can pee in the bathroom sink, and use the remaining ‘dirty’ water to wash it down the drain afterwards. And so you shouldn’t need to use any toilet water for ‘number one’.

O.K. I am neurotic. I am almost pathologically careful with money. However there is also some method in my madness. My mother washes all her clothing in the same water. She then also uses that water to rinse. I wouldn’t go so far. I would use the water over again to wash, but then use some fresh water to rinse, as detergents can be irritating. That is why I wash all my clothing in my bathwater, as any residue from the hair and body ‘wash’ is skin-friendly.

You will find that the micro-fiber cloth gives you a free ‘derma-abrasion’, gently scouring off dead skin as you wash. I keep a damp micro-fiber cloth handy all the time, to wipe my face etc when I feel sweaty or dirty. I am sure that years of this have contributed to my ‘Dorian Gray’ effect.

Other ways I live cheaply until some-one actually pays me for my work, is to do a round-trip of all the supermarkets each afternoon (or for yesterdays bread etc each morning) scanning the shelves for bargains, and each freezer, fridge, and bread section for their ‘mark-down’ bins and sections. These contain food which is perfectly edible, but has reached or over-reached its ‘best-by’ date. In the decades I have shopped like this I have only ever been dissappointed a few times by food that was actually ‘bad’, or at least didn’t look ‘right’. If the shop was nearby, I returned the item for a refund. If it was not, I just ‘took the hit’. You can afford to be generous when you generally save so much money from this practice. Note that I have bought yoghurts a month beyond their ‘best-by’ dates with absolutely no problems. Use common sense. If the package is bursting at the seams, probably best to leave it be re: fermenting gas etc. I expect at least a 50% discount on such items, and often you get 70% or even 90% off. And I have found cheap coffee that is palatable. It does not offer the best aroma, but even the expensive ones can dissappoint on that count, and so I would rather know what I was getting and getting value for money, than take the chance again and again of buying expensive coffee that was dissappointing. I contacted the big coffee retailers and roasters about this, and got varying responses, none of which could guarantee that when I paid good money, I would get good coffee. So I stick to the cheap reliable coffee I found. Add some salt and sweetener and it is O.K. And less seductive, which is good if you tend to over-indulge in the ‘good bean’.


If you have time, it is also worth scavenging through all the second hand shops for clothing and other household items. In fact the best clothing I have ever bought came from there. Better than stuff I could find in the normal shops, no matter what the price. The only thing I haven’t found is decent shoes. Note that over the years I have given such shops more clothing than I have ever worn, as I tend to buy things I think I will like, then find them too uncomfortable and so on, or that there is no room in my luggage for them when I inevitably move countries, and so I give them away, to people collecting cans from the garbage, or to the charity shops, or to friends’ relatives, or friends. I have given away more clothing in money terms than most people have in their closets, expensive new boots and shoes (from being forced to work as a security guard and waiter), new fashion jeans, ski-jackets, new televisions, new beds, new office chairs, kettles, fridges, hotplates…the list goes on an on. That is one reason I am so cautious buying new things. Apart from that, last time I ‘trusted’ people they failed me, including one person who I asked to keep the only real luxuries I ever bought, a U.S.A Deluxe Fender Stratocaster with all the trimmings, and a hard-disc recorder with drum machine, never answers my calls now. And so I appear to have lost them. It is one thing to have all your stuff stolen by your Boss and recruiter in South Korea. It is another to lose them this way. Either way, Buddha warned us that attachment to material things is bound to produce dissatisfaction.

Oh, and after having a few dissappointing, and for my values, over-priced, haircuts, I began teaching myself how to cut my own hair. I can do it quite well with good scissors. However today I find the easiest and most flattering solution is to use good hair clippers, like my Babyliss. They are simply the best I have ever had. They have comb settings much higher than usual. Today I use 25mm, but they go up to 35mm or so. And they work. Afterwards just need to trim around the ears and neck a little, then use the trimmer on my electric shaver to finish off around the neck.

I want to share something horrible with you again from my past. So that you might better understand the person I am. My mother used to cut my hair. But it was a nightmare. She used a really sharp comb and blunt scissors. She would comb my scalp and ears raw while the handle ends of the scissors stuck into my head and ears. She would wack me around the head if I moved my head, or complained. And after all that she did the worst job imaginable. I could do a better hair-cut on myself after only very few tries. And she had had years of practise. That and so many other things leaves me wondering how much malice my mother felt for me. So many nasty things she said and did without any logical, good, reason. Making me feel guilty for her life, when in fact her life had been pretty darn good, and better than most other people’s. She had not wanted me from the start. But giving me to someone else, something I always hoped and prayed and dreamed about, might make her look bad to her family back home. And above all else, it seemed she wanted to impress them.

One reason I let my hair grow was these horrific hair cuts which left me looking pathetic. The one time I came to school with a real hair cut I had paid for myself from my McDonald’s earnings, everyone looked at me like I was a different person. The same happened in the army actually. A good hair-cut can make a huge difference.

And because I was the last to bath, after the entire family, the water was often almost cold. And so I rarely washed my hair. I had scabs all over the crown of my scalp. But my greasy longish hair looked much better than my brutal hair-cuts. So. One winters night, after everyone else had bathed, I had the nerve to add some hot water to the bath. Mother came in and began beating me savagely. She picked up the large wooden scrubbing brush and threw it at me again and again, including directly at my head. One direct hit left a large lump. People noticed, but no-one ever reported anything to anyone. And so, now you have some insights into my life and personality. Maybe you might be more understanding, patient, and forgiving of some of my strangeness, and awkwardness.

Copyright 2011 Markus Heinrich Rehbach All Rights Reserved

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