The Shower Cap

A meditation

Hello, friends. After Friday’s burst of self-immolation, I thought it might be wise to return us to a more friendly topic: ye old Shower Cap. Now, you might think I’m actually getting desperate for content here, but, no way: the Shower Cap is rich fodder for, say, a woman who wants to contemplate middle age in terms that are ostensibly risible vs nakedly appalling. Because that binary is real.

In short: I wear a shower cap. To be clear, I’m not talking one of those Esther Williams caps that makes a girl nostalgic for Cold War America: the torque of our Big Dick foreign policy; the ascendency of the White Middle Class Male; the Truman presidency—

Nope, I’m talking about this beauty:

You’ll note right away the sag of the thing. The offensive lassitude of its effort to guard my hair against the elements. My daughter, who knows what Tiffany blue is—that sound you hear is me retching all over my keyboard—says I look like a Tiffany Cabbage Head, which bears no resemblance to what I used to think when seeing my mom don the shower cap, my mom being glamorous and Esther Williams like.

Some shower caps offer uses beyond the bath”—now there’s a sentence you don’t encounter every day. I get why people wear them, I get why I wear one. Thing is, I’ve always had this loathsome curly hair. And yet I started wearing the cap only a few years ago. Which tells me the cap is less about utility than mindset. I’m not saying anything new here. We all turn into our parents. But I feel like evidence of the transition was supposed to have been less apparent. Less tangible.

Have you seen that Progressive insurance commercial about protecting new homeowners from turning into their parents? I’m sure I will write at some length, at some point, about various commercials—I am obsessed with them, these little culture bombs—but for now, I’ll just say that, yeah, even the low-hanging and fruity satire of Progressive’s ad keeps closer to what I expected would happen to me than the sexless wilted cabbage head of doom I put on every night.

The other day, my daughter began inventorying everything in her room according to its totemic power—a conch from Jamaica, black sand from Iceland (my, this child is well-traveled)—which got me thinking, you’ll be shocked to hear, about whether I can rescript where the shower cap fits into my panoply of Things That Emote. Can’t it just remind me of my mom and how I used to sit in her bathroom floor and wait for her to come out of the shower and watch her put on her makeup and look through her vanity drawers—of a time when the cap just meant grownup things in the safe sense of the word? I think it can. And, who knows, maybe when my kid sees me in the cap, I’m not just any old Tiffany Cabbage Head, but: TIFFANY CABBAGE HEAD TO THE RESCUE!

For more on the topic of shower caps, I got nuthin’. For more on the collecting of things, I can refer you to this novel, which is incredibly lovely.