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Without proper guides, shower time can be dangerous

"Bring a notebook," I advised my brother Monday morning as I urged my hair to dry faster.

"Really?" Montana queried, trying to sense how serious I was (it's an expression I see on him often).

"Then you can play games!" Mom entered the conversation as she bustled around to assure herself she was ready for the workweek.

"And doodle," I pointed out while mentally determining which shoes would match my outfit, adding, "I have some pretty good doodles dating back to those days."

"Oh, yeah, I've seen those," Montana noted, not having the time to admit my artistic brilliance because I was already off to brush my teeth and head out the door (and because it's one of those things that goes without saying).

Within moments, the household had scattered: Mom and Dad to Johnson Natural Health Care, me to DL Newspapers...and Montana to his first day of driver's ed.

This new addition to the list of Johnson family activities means several things. First of all, my not-little-anymore brother is growing up. Second, it may be time for our neighborhood to install a bell like the one on the street my mom grew up on, which was rung every night when a certain neighbor got home so everyone could sleep knowing the streets -- and sidewalks -- were safe from his driving. And third, all four human inhabitants of our household have somewhere to be by nine o'clock a.m. (Biddy the Kitty has more flexibility since he works from home).

This wouldn't be noteworthy except for one thing: my house has a single shower, located in our slightly chilly basement (but that's another column -- one I've been inspired to write every single winter morning I've practiced good hygiene in my home).

Our sole shower now has to cleanse four people with different morning routines in under an hour every weekday without running out of warm water by the time Lucky Number Four hops in.

That's a lot of pressure for any shower to hold up under.

And now for a few parables to prove my point.

Once, when I was in second grade, I took a shower (that's not the "once" part) and for whatever reason didn't have time to rinse all the shampoo out of my hair.

When I got to school, I noticed how sticky my hair was and began licking my fingers and running them through my hair in a vain (by both definitions) attempt to get the remaining shampoo out.

I distinctly remember thinking, "I'm going to die from shampoo ingestion today."

Fortunately, I didn't, and I've treasured every day since my near death experience.

The moral of this story: shortened showers are dangerous.

Way back when my brother and I were both attending Detroit Lakes schools, we spent a lot of time in bloodthirsty competition over which of us had first dibs on the shower during busy weekday mornings.

After hurried breakfast munching and teeth brushing, we'd race to snatch up towels and be the first to speed downstairs and win the coveted First Showerer of the Day title.

What do you suppose that does for sibling rivalry?

The moral of that story: nonscheduled showers are similarly dangerous.

And so we've installed a few unwritten rules for the next two weeks of nine o'clock departures, including a loose schedule of who-goes-when and a pledge not to choose any songs over four minutes long to sing whilst showering.

So far, I've arrived on time to all my 8:25 shower appointments and shortened my actual in-shower time to the point where I can make breakfast beforehand and be toweling off before the peanut butter even finishes melting into the English muffin's nooks and crannies.

I like to call it the Showertime Shuffle.

Punctual planning saves the day again.

And so, for now, I'm going to perfect my prompt morning primping and avoid wondering what will happen to our three vehicles when Montana gets his license.

Thressa Johnson graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and attends Hamline University in St. Paul.