‘Shower foxing’ today, growing up tomorrow | Latte Guy | May 21

My daughter Lauren called me the other day from college to tell me about something she had done that she was very proud of. When she told me, I was very proud of her too. She didn’t ace an exam, turn in an outstanding paper or get elected president of a campus organization. Instead, she “shower foxed” her roommate.

You may not know what “shower foxing” is, or who the “Shower Fox” was, but I bet most of you know who the “Desert Fox” was.

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel commanded the German Afrikakorps forces in Northern Africa in World War II. Rommel earned his nickname for his skill and cunning in desert warfare.

He was also a chivalrous soldier in an army where such qualities were notably absent. Rommel treated his POWs humanely, and routinely ignored orders to kill captured commandos, Jewish soldiers and civilians.

He was later implicated in the conspiracy to assassinate Adolph Hitler. Because of his high standing among the German people, he was permitted to commit suicide rather than face trial and certain execution.

Let’s jump forward in history about 30 years. It’s 1973 and I’m a freshman in college. One of my roommates is an island resident who shall remain nameless, but whose initials rhyme with the words “Heff Witchard.” I will refer to Heff by his college nickname of “Mag.” We lived in a dorm suite in which eight young men shared four bedrooms and a common living room, kitchen and bathroom.

For reasons that to this day remain unclear, Mag decided it would be amusing to throw a saucepan full of cold water on anyone he could catch unaware in the shower. I can tell you from first-hand experience that getting doused with a pot of cold water while taking a warm and peaceful shower at 7 a.m. is not a positive collegiate experience. It jump-starts your heart and practically levitates you right out of the shower stall.

Mag began calling himself “The Shower Fox” in honor of his newfound skill and cunning in the art of shower warfare.

After having my morning shower ruined a time or two by Mag’s cold-water assaults, I started taking a cup of cold water into the shower with me. When Mag jerked open the door of the shower stall to throw his pot of water, I’d retaliate by throwing a cup of cold water on him. After a brief standstill, Mag figured out he could turn off the light in the bathroom prior to his attack, making it impossible for me to accurately retaliate with my defensive cup of water.

I countered this maneuver by balancing a bucket of cold water above the bathroom door whenever I showered so that it would fall on Mag when he opened the door. Mag, in turn began pushing the door open with a broom handle so the bucket fell harmlessly to the floor, and then turning off the lights.

I countered by filling all of our other available pots and pans with cold water and lying them randomly around the bathroom floor to serve as a defensive perimeter and as cold water land mines.

I also took to taking diversionary showers, turning on the water, but then hiding in the toilet stall with a bucket of water until I saw Mag’s broomstick push open the door and then soaking him when he started to turn off the lights. Mag bought a tiny waterproof flashlight to help him maneuver in the darkened bathroom.

I sawed Mag’s broomstick into tiny pieces. Mag drilled holes in the bottom of the pots and pans I used as obstacles. I started taking showers in the dorm room across the hall, or at random times during the day.

The whole Shower Fox thing began to get a little out of hand, so we finally declared a truce and made the bathroom a demilitarized shower zone so we could all get back to doing the things we had come to college to do: playing penny poker at night and pick-up basketball during the day.

So why am I so proud that my daughter shower foxed her roommate? Because if Lauren was actually listening to my thrilling account of the Shower Fox saga, then perhaps she might also have been listening when I unburdened myself of one of the many great nuggets of wisdom I’ve tried to pass on to my kids over the years.

Today, shower-foxing; tomorrow, sitting near the front of the class, or doing extra credit work. The dream lives on!

Tom Tyner is an attorney for the Trust for Public Land. He is author of “Skeletons From Our Closet,” a collection of writings on the island’s latte scene.

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