Shower curtains have great educational potential

Time for a new shower curtain. How do I know? The old one is looking threadbare. It’s been repeatedly splashed with water and a boatload of teenage body washes, hair goop and whatever the heck other kind of solvents get dragged into the shower in the name of cleanliness, hair removal, odor prevention and attractiveness enhancement for the other gender.

The holes at the top edge of my shower curtains (to snap the rod-hanging rings through) have been torn out and re-sewn or repositioned one too many times. Additionally, a non-eradicable mildew has settled at the bottom edges that never get a chance to fully dry between uses. It’s high time to say good-bye to this lowly bathroom accessory that’s disgustingly past its prime.

But change is difficult, even with mildew in the mix. I like my shower curtain and wish it could last forever, so I wouldn’t have to deal with the time, expense and selection process involved in finding and commissioning a new one.

I thought about writing a ditty about my shower curtain, perhaps sung to the tune of “This Old House,” but it’s an inanimate object that doesn’t really inspire happy memories. I mean, how many people wax nostalgic about their shower curtain, as in, “I’ll never forget when I was a kid that Christmas when my parents went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and got that wonderful Grinch shower curtain that really warmed my heart and lit up our bathroom.”

So why is my shower curtain so special to me? It’s a Titanic-themed one that features actual newspaper accounts about the 1912 ocean liner disaster and the aftermath. I regard it as a subtle way to educate my bathroom guests on an important part of our nation’s history, especially those whose only knowledge of the ship is that it was one of Leonardi DiCaprio’s vehicles to stardom.

My Titanic shower curtain is a mini-history lesson for those who can’t normally sit still long enough to read anything other than school closing announcements at the bottom of a TV screen. According to the Bathroom Reader Academy (a fictional organization I created for practical joke purposes) wisdom, “As you sit there on your duff, pass the time by reading stuff.” Plus, the shower curtain cost around $20, less a 20% off coupon at a local retailer – much more affordable than tuition for a college-level history course.

But the real reason I got the Titanic shower curtain was for its irreverence. The stark black and white design stood out in a curtained sea of silly beach scenes. In contrast to the sun, sand, surf, shells, driftwood, seagulls and beach birds, deeper waters and icebergs appealed to me.

You may be asking why this matters. Does anyone actually notice or give a darn about shower curtains? Well, on New Year’s Day, I posted on Facebook a photo of my sock monkey, Winston, puking into my toilet. Two people left comments about the shower curtain in the background, rather than the hungover monkey. I rest my case.

So I launched an online shower curtain search on the variety available. My research showed they retailed from $10-$300. Really. In addition to the usual wallpaperish-patterned fabrics, there were lots of flower and nature prints, animals, monograms, bold geometric designs, abstract images and fine art, from Mona Lisa to Salavdor Dali. Artists also were featured. I found no fewer than two Frida Kahlo designs.

A surprising category was scary shower curtains: everything from the Grim Reaper, to flesh hungry zombies and/or your favorite horror movie characters, with a bloody-looking tub rug sold separately. Not for the faint-hearted, but for the tell-tale heart, Edgar Allan Poe, JFK and Jesus were all available to shield you while you shower.

Holy huge array of choices, with lots of educational ones. Flags and maps were big, including one of the Boston transit system. There were also curtains featuring quotes from the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a textbook drawing of a human heart, a schematic drawing of a patent-pending product and a periodic table of the elements. Unfortunately, I don’t think my bathroom reader academy students are ready for any advanced subjects yet. Maybe next semester.

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