Washcloths….and Argentina

Debbie posted a couple of days ago about proper cleansing of the nether regions. It made me think about one of my first experiences of culture shock when I lived in Argentina. I think I’ve mentioned here that I lived on exchange in Mendoza, Argentina during my senior year of high school, but I haven’t talked about it much. I have lots of stories from that time that I’d love to share. Many things in the last couple of weeks have made me think about her (and long to go back for a visit.) Not the least of which was my friend Kwesi’s birthday lunch at this place. A gaucho is a gaucho–Brazil, Argentina or Uruguay. And this food was the same as every asado I ever ate. I so miss that place.

But first, the nether regions. I thought everyone used washcloths. Everyone I knew growing up used them. They were in every house I ever spent the night. They were in every hotel room I ever visited. I thought it was universal thing. I’m not one of those travelers who carries everything but the kitchen sink when I’m away. I don’t take my own towels and washcloths (or other things I think are ridiculous to pack, like Lysol). Anyway, in January 1991 I packed for a year in Argentina. I was 90lbs. over the Aerolinas Argentina’s weight limit, but I still packed no washcloths.

It was long trip. I left around 4pm I think and I got to Mendoza the next afternoon. My first host family was strange (more stories to come) but I chalked most of the quirks up to cultural differences. We had dinner the first night. My host mom showed me my room. I started to put my things away and I was ready to shower. I went into the bathroom, took my clothes off, sat on the toilet and stared at the “other” toilet next to me, trying to figure out why it had a shower shooting up. I turned the knobs and sprayed water all over the bathroom and myself. I couldn’t turn the water off so I jumped from the normal toilet and sat on the other one. Water shot up my butt. It was a bidet. Neat.

I was ready to take the rest of my shower and I noticed that my host mom had given me a towel and a huge monster sponge–like the ones you used at school to wash the chalkboards on the days you’d stay after school to volunteer to help out because the girls in the regular class were waiting to jump you outside because they didn’t like you because you were in the gifted and talented class. Yeah, that sponge. I thought it was weird that everyone had their very own sponge to clean out the tub when they were done, but hey, some people have different standards of cleanliness. To each his own. It’s not bad. It’s not wrong. It’s just DIIIIFERENT. Yaddah, yaddah. I still needed a washcloth.

I wrapped myself up in the towel and poked my head out of the door to ask for a washcloth. How the hell do you say washcloth in Spanish? I did the best I could to explain it and she looked at me like I was speaking Tigrinya. Then she came in the bathroom and picked up the chalkboard sponge and nodded. Did she expect me to wash my nether regions with that? Apparently she did. I learned to wash with my hands that night. And the first words I said to mom on my first $5 per minute phone call were: Send me washcloths!!!

So tell me people? Do you wash with a cloth, sponge, loofa, hands, the soap bar, exfoliating gloves, oven mitts or something more exotic? Was it always that way? What did your mom use when she bathed you? Are washcloths an American thing? An east coast thing? A black vs. white thing? What do you think?

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13 thoughts on “Washcloths….and Argentina

  1. Thank goodness you didn’t mistake the bidet for a drinking fountain. LOL!

    One MUST have a washcloth. Period. So I don’t think it’s a black vs white thing or a male vs female thing.

    It’s just simply a “you gotta keep yer crotch clean” thing!

  2. I use a big natural sea sponge now, except when washing my temple–fingers only. My mom used a washcloth on us when we were kids.

    I’ve gone through phases though, sometimes I use a sponge, sometimes a washcloth, sometimes just soap. Depends on how lazy I am.

    Can’t wait for the Argentina stories!

  3. Some guys just use the same bar of soap everywhere, no washcloth.

    On the rare occasion when I had to use my hands, I fet dirty. (In the bad way.)

    I tried a sea sponge because it went w/ my bathroom theme, but that shit hurt! So I use loofas, but I don’t think the body/butt one is doing a proper job on my butt, so I am thinking of using baby wipes. I don’t want to use washcloths because I’d have to buy a bunch or wash them weekly, and air-dry them after use so they don’t get moldy.

    I don’t remember what my family in Spain did, but they did have a bidet, which my prima said she used to wash her feet when she returned from the beach. My mom used to say toalla chica, so I don’t know whether there’s a word for “washcloth.”

    There’s a funny white-and-brown towel labeled “FACE/BUTT”. Did you post that, Lex?

  4. @ Andy

    That would have been horrible!!

    And yes, gotta keep it clean. You have all the right answers, Mister. I love a meticulous man.

    But, then again, I find that most men are. I don’t know how I end up…

    @ Debbie

    I’ll be telling them soon. Hopefully while I’m by the pool in Puerto Rico. (I’m not a fan of sand in my ass.)

    @ ~m~

    I think my OCD mother branded me with the notion that I was not clean unless there had been scrubbing and pain. So I understand not feeling clean with hands only. But the nethers are sensitive. Hands only.

    I use Dr. Bronners Castile soap. The peppermint leaves an incredible tingle. It’s the best feeling of clean ever. Sometimes I forget to warn guess about the butt and crotch tingles. Hee Hee.

    No. That wasn’t my post, but I’d love to see that washcloth. The same cloth shall never touch both butt and face, however. ¡Nunca!

  5. The last time I was in a relationship committed enough to shower at his house, he handed me a washcloth and asked if I knew how to use one since I’m part white and all.

    I stared at it like it was a foreign object.

    Later, in the shower, I plucked a few choice hairs (from my head, Gawd) and wrapped them around his bar of soap.

    No, we’re not still together. It had little to do with the shower situation.

  6. I have always used a washcloth and I always will. I’m not sure if that makes me cleaner but I feel better about using one. I’m one of those travelers who always packs a washcloth especially overseas.

  7. I use the foo-foo flowery looking thing that is probably just for women. I don’t feel gay when I use it because I have a black one…

    …Unless my wash thing is on the DL?

    Oh no!!

    Bottom line, you gotta have some sort of cloth-like object in the shower. Period.

  8. I like scrubbing – no pain, but I like some sensation that’s not just me. (Your mom seems to have confused it with “scouring,” like Christina Crawford + Comet.) And I start thinking about just how clean my hands really are. I try to use gloves when I wash my face so I won’t be mixing oils.

    One of my college roommates had a separate towel to dry her feet, and my mom was all, What about her butt?

    I have an aversion to brown towels. They appear used. Here’s the FACE/BUTT.

  9. Yeah, bring on the Argentina stories man.

    Well, I use that um, I don’t know what to call it, but it’s quite popular. Not quite a loofah. Or just soap.

  10. Grew up on washcloths. Also grew up on Tone soap for the face and Irish Spring or Zest for the body. Got married and discovered Jergens’ 2-sided spongy-thing. Then the shower puffs came out. Have been using them ever since.

    I only have washcloths now because of guests, although sometimes I buy extra puffs for them. I once had about 9 in my bathroom, because all the mentees had one.

    We wash our faces with disposable cleansing cloths.

    Only washing with hands I ever had weren’t with my hands. Boy, was that a bath!

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