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Writer is hosed by mixed message

I have never completely understood those elaborate bathroom showers with six, seven and eight nozzles shooting out from the walls in shower stalls the size of a two-car garage. These aren't just walk-in showers, they are drive-thrus.

We stayed at a hotel recently that had a quasi-fancy shower. It wasn't the kind of shower you could drive a diesel truck through or hose off a Clydesdale in, but it was a definite nod toward luxury. The dual shower head featured a nozzle mounted high for shampooing and another nozzle halfway down the wall where you could bang your head on it and knock yourself unconscious if you dropped the shampoo and forgot a nozzle was jutting out from the wall. Both nozzles had adjustable spray settings ranging from fire hose agony to gentle jungle mist.

Mounted on the wall next to the shower was a pretty plaque from the hotel management inviting you to indulge in the luxury and comfort of the specialty dual head shower nozzle installed for your pleasure. Then there were pictures of water drops. Below the water drops, on the bottom half of the plaque, was another message from management asking you to consider not using the second shower head to help conserve water and save the planet.

I invited other family members also staying at the hotel into the room to see if they, too, had the same kind of shower that invited you to use it and then asked you not to. Before long, four of us were crowded into the bathroom analyzing the shower and the plaque.

"Who installs a fancy shower head and then asks people not to use it?"

"It's like giving you an SUV and telling you not to drive it."

"Who's giving away SUV's?"

And the discussion pretty well deteriorated from there.

The shower offered a mixed message to which there was only one response: Use the deluxe dual shower head if you must, but please have the decency to feel guilty about it later.

We do it all the time. We buy the magazine with the picture of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on the cover along with a teaser about an exercise guaranteed to flatten your stomach in only 10 minutes a day. Obviously, we buy the magazine to flatten our abs, but then find ourselves sitting at the table picking carrot cake crumbs from a now empty plate. Like the exercise we read about somehow cancels out the cake.

We want the luxury of chocolate without calories, cream without cholesterol and late nights without next-day fatigue. We want endless streams of water without a thought for tomorrow, the Pottery Barn house without the price tag and the wonderful relationship without exerting any effort.

I have no idea how you can enjoy the luxury without paying the price. Nor have I figured out how to indulge today without paying for it tomorrow. We have an entire country that hasn't figured that one out.

Until someone does solve the riddle, shower responsibly.

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