One of the most vulnerable positions that I find myself in far too regularly is when I'm in the shower, hair slathered in shampoo which is dripping down my face like lavender-scented lava rendering me temporarily-but-effectively blind, and then someone opens the bathroom door.
From the steady trickling noise, I can assume that his weak joke means that there's only a party of one and that party had asparagus for dinner last night. But with the foam from so-called organically gentle nurturing herbal essence natural goodness follical strengthener with Vitamin E and walnut oil inexplicably stinging my eyes like a cruel blast of Mace and wart remover, I am left standing in my birthday suit groping for the hot tap, knowing that our open shower is in a direct line with the door and the mirror by the open window can provide an additional viewing for anyone putting their recycling out in the flats' shared bin area by the fence.
I may be on the modest side when it comes to my displaying my body but nobody likes being naked and blind - unless they're Stevie Wonder with a groupie after a gig.
We've discovered that having one toilet poses a privacy problem even for a relatively small household of three. It's nice to know, however, that we've developed some unspoken but strictly adhered-to bathroom rules when someone's in the shower. No ridiculing the way they choose to wield a shower gel puff sponge (we all have our orders of washing - face, torso and nethers for me or feet, butt and bonce for someone else; it's a free country), or leaving dried semi-circles of toe nail clippings on the vanity. Don't, whatever you do, lean on the towel rail. It's heated and likely to leave you with a pink tattoo of prison bars on your arse.
Sapphire is allowed to clean her teeth when I'm on the throne because even though she can see the lovely side-view of my naked bottom-half in the mirror when she leans to spit out toothpaste in the sink, she's usually too busy reading. Electric toothbrush in one hand (thus deafening her) and a book in the other = No looking at Mum or being unduly disturbed by any unsavoury noises as well as sights.
Number twos are NOT allowed when others are washing their hair, their bodies or their teeth but only when the room is empty for the eager abluter and they've secured the door. Sure, there are times when the bowels are begging for release and Sapphire's having a luxuriously long soak in the radox or Love Chunks is using the clippers but usually sitting still in the loungeroom and trying to focus on something riveting like reading the program guide for Channel 31 can get me through. That and screaming, "HURRY UP, I'M GONNA BLOW IF YOU DON'T LET ME IN!'
And this lack of privacy is not limited to the bathroom either. In the bedroom we might as well have a swinging saloon door for all the walk-ins I endure on a daily basis.
Calm yourselves, I don't mean the folk from next door having paid seats to any Nocturnal Nookie starring Limber Love Chunks and Kinky Kath, I'm talking about the times when I've just showered and have streaked across the passageway to get dressed. Most particularly when I'm half bent over, half-hopping, trying to put my first leg into my knickers. That's when Sapphire wanders in (does she time it to heighten my humiliation?) wanting to know if I've remembered to sign her excursion permission slip or where she's placed her viola case.
Her stunned silence is the first indicator that my pose - everything all flopped, folded or dangling beneath my bowed, bent-over back - is enough to make her forget whatever it was that was concerning her a mere moment ago. Her second reaction is to stare more intently and then comment: "Mum, surely you have nicer pants than those ones?" to the puzzled, "So what would you look like if you didn't do any running?" to the more poignant, "So when did you know you were old?"
My third most vulnerable spot to be found in is on the treadmill in the shed. I'm not naked, nor am I excreting anything more gross than sweat but if someone pops in during my dripping, gasping, grunting stagger I feel a bit violated. If they do decide to wander in, just before they approach the shed door they're likely to hear me grunting out about every seventh word to what I can hear on the iPod:
You've got a great car
Yeah what's wrong with it today
I used to have one too
Maybe I'll come and have a look
I really love your hairdo, yeah
I'm glad you like mine too
See what looking pretty cool will get ya......
Or: You've *gasp* - what's *gasp*- to *gasp*- and *gasp*- your *gasp*- mine *gasp*- will ..... *gasp* ........
I'm as 'naked' as the times when I'm nuded up in the shower in the sense that what I'm doing is equally as unflattering (jiggly bits, like the knicker hopping by the bed each morning), noisy (singing badly, puffing heavily, grunting loudly) and the blindness caused by shampoo is replaced by deafness due to iPod. So, Sapphire or LC walks into the shed and find me with my eyes closed, drops of sweat attractively dangling for dear life at the tip of my nose, chunky-trunks for legs thumping on the treadmill and groaning out every seventh word to the song I'm running to.
It's bloody scary when I'm in my own private zone like that to then be tapped on the shoulder. If you're clackering along on a machine at 12.6km per hour, occasionally emitting a few sonorous farts in time with the music, drenched in sweat and you miss a beat, you'll find yourself flung like mobile monkey dung straight into the shed wall via the very painful exercise bike that is inconveniently in the way.
Perhaps we need a portaloo in the shed and a trip wire......