Bink about ten years ago:
‘The final rituals were to do with coming out of the water: for some reason that I can’t quite remember now, it was very important to move each part of my body from being in the water to being in the air in exactly the right way. One aspect of the logic behind this was that I wanted to whip my body up out of the water as fast as I could so that there would be no soup suds left on my skin (you know how if you stand up slowly from a soapy bath it leaves bubbles on your body, but if you quickly plunge down and up again it doesn’t). Another part of the “getting out” process was to get my hair in the exact right position (slicked back by lying on my back in the bath and then coming up out of the water face first). The main part of my “getting out” ritual was, from sitting up, to lie back down in the bath, touching my head on the bottom of the bath, and then sit up again. I had to do this as fast as possible, and smacking my head on the bottom of the bath as hard as I dared, and I would do it over and over again until it felt right. Then after that, the final ritual was a very long one to do with lifting my genital area out of the water. I can’t even remember now what the original logic was behind this process, but it was the most important part of the bath and eventually this one thing in itself became the most enormous, vital task, which sometimes took me up to half an hour (making me very late for things).
‘After I got out of the bath, my hair was not allowed to touch anything until it was dry, apart from when I put on my T-shirt and jumper, which was another ritual to get them over my head exactly straight so as not to mess up my hair. There were rituals for getting dressed too. It could take me ten minutes to do up the zip on my trousers. I wore slip-on shoes because laces or Velcro would have been to hard to do up exactly right. Putting on underwear was a big task: I had to pull it up in the exact right way so that it would be exactly straight, with the label in the very middle of my back and the side-seams in symmetrical positions. I would pull them up and down over and over again, until it felt right. Of course, I also had to do all these rituals every time I used the loo (as well as all the wiping rituals). I remember one time when I was about thirteen, when I changed my underwear before going to bed. At least, I meant to change my underwear, but after spending about twenty minutes pulling up what I thought was the clean pair and finally getting them on “right”, I then discovered that I had actually put my dirty underwear back on. So I had to choose between wearing dirty underwear all night, which made me extremely uncomfortable, or having to do the ritual all over again. I wouldn’t have minded the extra twenty minutes, but the main annoyance of the rituals was not that they were time-consuming, but that they were extremely stressful.
‘So I kept the dirty underwear on.’