I had the opportunity to spend a morning doing whatever the hell I wanted a few days ago. This of course means that I did work related things and household chores that I had sworn that I wouldn’t do, before I even took a shower. Once I finished those things I thought, “I should take a bath. Seems like everyone takes a bath or does a mask treatment when they have alone time.”

I drew a bath and gathered the various Birch Box samples I’ve received and not used. The first was a “Face Brightening Mask” and the second was an aerosol shower gel. When I hear aerosol all I can think of is the girls I went to school with in Yakima who would take cans of aerosol Right Guard and light lighters, shoot the deodorant, and create little flame shows. I know, how are any of us still living?

I set the mask tube and the gel can on the edge of the bathtub. As always happens, I stepped into the tub thinking, “What a treat.” I let the water sluice over my body and I took a deep breath and then coughed, because I hadn’t turned on the fan and the water was scalding, meaning that my deep breath was more like a gulp of hot water.

I rinsed my face, patted my skin dry and applied the mask. They said to spread a ‘liberal application’ across the face and neck. I rubbed the Pepto Bismol colored paste across my face. I assumed the, “Oh, this is so relaxing look.”



I imagined the brightening that I would see. Maybe it would make the dark circles under my eyes go away. Maybe Sean would get home and say, “What did you do? You look so, so rested. And young.” It said to keep the mask on for at least 8 minutes. I thought maybe I’d read a magazine or just recline and zen myself out.

Except after approximately 2o seconds I realized something.



Apparently bright skin lives under healthy, alive skin that the paste must burn off of your face in order to reveal your heretofore obscured brightness. I am not kidding when I say that it hurt. Suddenly my relaxing involved a lot of swearing. It’s good though, the bath side f-bombs are highly under appreciated.

I looked at my phone. I’d been in the bath for about 1 minute 53 seconds, you know, give or take. I waited. I’d like to say patiently.

I wasn’t patient. Wasn’t patient at all.


I looked at the magazines. I sneered at Jon Hamm and scoffed at the American Girl Dolls. “They probably take baths and enjoy them.” Every bath I take ends up with the same realization that I am just in there with the increasingly dirty water and my pruning body. The air is cold and my cheeks or shoulder blades stick and squeak as I try and move. I looked around for help or permission to just wash the stuff off. I looked at the mask tube and its swirly script font mocked me. How could I not make it eight minutes? I spied the Clairisonic doo-dad and thought, “I’ll probably just drop it in the tub.” Ariel was facedown on the floor, I half imagined she was ashamed to look at me.


I looked at the faucet, maybe I can rinse the face fire off. I felt too guilty wasting it. I turned away and saw the toilet. Why do they put toilets so close to bathtubs? Why is there a package of water balloons on the floor?


I decide to use the aerosol gel to wash and moisturize my body. It will be a treat. The aerosol was unremarkable and the smell was very jewelry drawer of an older woman. It felt almost dirty on my leg. I longed for a bar of soap. I looked around and noticed that the soap I bought was an odd color, almost like a soap made up of dirty bath water. As my skin stung I thought that I should’ve just hopped in and played with the various sized Arial dolls.



I realized that it’d been 7 minutes. That was enough. I don’t want to be too bright, I mean we’ve all know what happens when you look too good or too different. Nope, this was a 7 minute mask. I rinsed it off with, as they instruct, cold water. Because, you know, why would you end it with the pleasure of warm water? The icy water hit me like a vindictive slap in the face. I’m closing pores, locking in brightness, I think. The pink paste snuck in my eye. I sucked in a ragged breath. I hurt more than I knew possible. I started to panic and then conjured my calm, rational, I’m-taking-a-bath-and-I-am-relaxed-and-life-is-wonderful mindset. Still hurt like a son of a gun, but I laughed.



I rinsed the sides of the tub and stoodup. I surveyed myself in the mirror, somewhat grateful for the still-blurry eye sight. I mumbled a kind of promise. I’ll pretend it was a great bath. I’ll clean up the pink streaks on the wall. And I will, as Arial is my witness, give away and and all masks I receive in future Birch Boxes, lest I begin calling them bitch boxes, for what they lead me to do.