When she was about seven, Jemima Richichi started feeling really weird around full bathtubs. Shallow baths were okay, but if the waterline crept beyond about three-quarters full, her skin would begin to crawl.
Maybe it began with the unreasonable number of poo floaters she navigated as a kid sharing baths with her brother or cousin. “It’s weird but I just remember many poos creeping amid the bubbles,” Jemima, 23, says. “Like, really full baths with lots and lots of bubbles, the kind of bubbles that you’d put on your head or make a fake beard with – and there would just be a poo that ruined it.”
Or perhaps it was her father’s ingenious “party bath” idea, dreamed up one evening while running late for a birthday party. He ran the world’s shallowest bath to save time – just 10cm of water, maybe less – and sold it to Jemima as a special treat. Jemima was enchanted. For years afterwards, she’d insist on the excitement of really shallow party baths.
“It’s weird but I just remember many poos creeping amid the bubbles.”
Full baths, on the other hand, psyched her right out. She’d feel uneasy in one’s presence, unable to relax. “If I looked at a really full bathtub, it would feel like the only thing in the room, the only thing I could look at,” she says. “It reminded me of horror films. That sense of emptiness and then feeling a bit weird.”
Jemima couldn’t even bring herself to reach in and pull the plug. Instead, she’d find some kind of jug and painstakingly ladle water into the sink or toilet until the waterline lowered to a tolerable level. And she certainly wouldn’t get in if there were a remote chance the water might spill over the edge. “Maybe it’s a neatness thing?” she says.
Years on, Jemima says she’s mostly over the fear. She rarely takes baths now but says that’s mainly because she gets bored easily and has better things to do. Still, on the odd occasion she might run the bath for a relaxing dip. “But never more than three-quarters full,” she hastily adds.
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