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Ah, the outdoor shower. To some, it's the ultimate symbol of an American summer vacation: a magical blend of luxury and pure convenience. To others, it's a nightmarish apparatus that exposes a bather to all the horrors of the not-so-great outdoors. On either side of this unbridgeable divide sits a realtor.com editor: social media editor Shira Levine and former editorial director Matt Gross. Because this is 2015, they hashed out their differences over IM. Here are some highlights. Let the waterworks begin!
Matt Gross: So, Shira, you're proudly and unabashedly pro-outdoor shower. Why?
Shira Levine: Hey, outdoor showering is the ultimate vacation and spa experience right outside your own home! You get to be at one with nature and enjoy the crisp morning air with privacy. Who needs skylight windows when the radiant sun can shine down on you while you're conditioning your locks? Especially for urban dwellers, being able to access that nature without worrying about pervs is true proof of the good life.
MG: Well, not all of us have locks to condition, sadly. And sure, I like skylight windows and sun-filled showers. But while I love nature, I hate mosquitoes, or the inevitable, you know, dirt that gathers around nature. I'm in the shower to get clean. My morning showers are all about getting me ready to face the outside world.
SL: You're ignoring the magical thrill, the romance, of warm (or cold) water falling from an open sky. Some of my greatest ideas develop while outdoor showering. Perhaps your hating is due to a traumatic childhood experience that poisoned the water? Maybe an errant water hose?
MG: It's adult trauma I'm talking about: The crusty (mosquito-ridden) outdoor shower at my parents' place in Cape Cod is utterly unpleasant.
SL: Well, my most memorable outdoor showering experiences where when traveling. Mountain towns and tropical villages.
MG: OK, fair. The idea of taking a hot outdoor shower in cold weather kind of appeals to me. What are the essential elements of an awesome outdoor shower? Maybe I've been missing out.
SL: For me, a great big showerhead that rains down water from above is bliss. I also want a Japanese water filter and a smooth, clean floor. Like you, I don't want to step on anything weird or unexpected. I also want plenty of hooks for towels, carved-out shelves for all my showering accoutrements, and -- why not? -- surround-sound speakers.
MG: Maybe I just need to have the transformative outdoor-shower experience. How can I find that? What will it cost to make it happen? When you install all those things, can you invite me over?
SL: Ha, sure. If you pay for my fantasy shower. Anyway, depending on your budget you can go affordable or indulgent. I'd budget anywhere from $1,000 to over $10,000. Or get a solar shower for $30 and hang it on a tree.
MG: Do you need to have indoor-style drainage? Or could you just set things up to irrigate your lawn?
SL: Ultimately it would be mindful to use greywater and filter it. In that case, bring the dog and the rest of the family in, too!
MG: All of a sudden, this shower talk is making me feel less than clean again.
SL: Look, even the most OCD person can enjoy an outdoor shower. It's about eliminating the chaos of dropping slippery stuff. Also, a well-maintained path makes the whole dirty feet thing a nonissue.
MG: If you can keep the mosquitoes away, I'll consider rethinking my position.
SL: Douse yourself with neem extract to dodge the mosquitos. Now let's talk about outdoor bathtubs…