Fantasy: My bathroom is four thousand square feet and bursting with natural sunlight. It overlooks my personal botanical garden, overflowing with exotic, lush plants. My vintage clawfoot bathtub is pristine and pairs perfectly with the art deco aesthetic of my entire high-rise penthouse, just as Nate Berkus planned when he designed it.

Reality: My studio apartment overlooks a crime scene, and I need to clean two years’ worth of hair and nail clippings out of the drain before I can get in the tub. A cockroach scuttles by as I yank out a clog the size of a yeti.

Slipping into the bath

Fantasy: I slip out of my perfectly fitting Hermes yachting robe from behind a vintage silk screen. As it falls from my soft, hairless body, the robe immediately flies to the end of my bed and folds itself into a neat square. The bathwater is a soothing temperature, and I slide into it as gracefully as an oiled baby seal, not displacing a single drop. I release a small, satisfied sigh.

Reality: The bleach-stained bathrobe I purchased at Target eight years ago sticks to my leg stubble as I wrestle out of it. I hear my cat hocking up a hairball, so I put my bathrobe back on and clean it up. Upon my return, I put one foot in the bathwater. It is scorching hot and sloshes all down the side of the tub.


Fantasy: I push a button on the side of the tub, and a world-renowned string quartet appears in the bathroom. Behind the vintage silk screen (to protect my modesty), they begin playing Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”

Reality: I had Vivaldi playing, but my husband just got home, and his phone automatically connected to the Bluetooth speaker. Now, I am listening to a podcast about diesel engines.

Who I Feel Like

Fantasy: Julia Roberts, in Pretty Woman.

Reality: Willy, the whale in Free Willy.


Fantasy: I take gentle, refined sips of champagne from a Waterford crystal flute. This is actual champagne flown in from the northeast region of France, and this glass will last me an hour because I have impeccable self-control. I pause to take note of the velvety-citrus finish, grateful for my sophisticated palate.

Reality: I’ve poured myself a novelty McDonald’s cup of Cook’s sparkling wine that I purchased with a coupon. The bottle says BRUT, which is short for “brutal,” and I wince each time I take a drink. I decide to finish it in one gulp because it is so foul, but accidentally knock it off of the bathtub onto the floor. I am less aghast at the puddle ruining my rug than I am at the fact that I have wasted a coupon.

The Bubbles

Fantasy: I am covered in a thick blanket of indulgently scented bubbles that never disappear. I didn’t add anything to the bathwater; I just learned how to manifest bubbles at my most recent yoga retreat. I spend the rest of the bath mentally creating the outline of my upcoming novel and single-handedly coming up with a plan to end pet overpopulation, all while manifesting different notes of essential oils in my perma-bubbles. Ah, yes, it’s time for eucalyptus.

Reality: I am sweatier than Chewbacca on a beach, and I can already feel these chemical-laden bubbles from Amazon beginning to cause a rash that will require, at minimum, a telehealth visit. The scent of “lovely lavender” the bubbles promised is overpowered by the smell of the cat’s litter box, which I forgot to take out of the bathroom.

The Water

Fantasy: This pure, clean water is the picture of serenity. There are absolutely no traces of impurities or perspiration of any kind, as I have a genetic defect where my sweat glands never matured beyond the size of a newborn’s. The book I am reading stays completely dry.

Reality: I squirm at the sensation that an insect may be on me when, in fact, it is just more leftover hair from the drain. I notice my body lotion has given the water a slimy glaze, and it occurs to me that I have submerged myself in a human soup of butt sweat and dead skin cells.

Exiting the Bath

Fantasy: I gracefully wrap myself in a towel made from the bamboo I harvested while studying abroad in China. I step delicately onto my heated tile floors, and my body is instantly dried and moisturized. I feel invigorated and ready to write an entire first draft of that novel I came up with. I reach for my phone and discover that, despite the book not existing, I have already received a generous advance.

Reality: As I heave myself out of the now-freezing water, I slip and fall on the puddle of Cook’s and somehow knock my jaw against the bathtub. I lie on the floor and watch the gross-looking rash spread across my body. As it becomes red, itchy, and angry, I reach for my phone to schedule that telehealth visit. They don’t have any immediate openings, so I perform a quick Google search instead. Recommended treatment: a nice, relaxing bubble bath.