Home Alone in the Shower


If you’ve never seen Alfred Hitchcock’s horror movie, Psycho, Janet Leigh gets killed while taking a shower.  It’s a creep fest, and she won awards for her convincing screams.

Flash back to the 70’s, when I was a teenager and home alone, taking a shower in the new basement bathroom. It was a crude affair with toilet, sink, and molded walk-in shower, but cold cement floors and cement block walls. I could get the heat up by running the shower on hot, hot, hot, while I sang along to Chicago playing on my cassette player.

Color my World, 25 or 6 to 4, Only the Beginning, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is, Wake Up Sunshine, Make Me Smile? I was washing my long brown hair, singing along, when I heard heavy footsteps on the basement stairs. Someone was in the house! I turned off the water to hear better.  More footsteps getting closer and closer and then a fist pounding on the wooden door.

Crap!  I had no dog, no pepper spray, nothing. I was naked and in the shower.  Had I locked the door?  Was there a piece of pipe or something I could use to defend myself?

“Who’s there?” I asked, shivering in my towel.

“Meter man!” the voice said.

Sure you are, I thought to myself. Then I looked across the bathroom and saw the meter box in the corner. Maybe it really was the meter man. But I wasn’t taking any chances.

“Come back later!” I yelled.

There was a pause, and then I heard the heavy footsteps as the guy went back up the stairs.

Maybe he is just pretending to go back up the stairs.

Then I heard the back door open and the screen door slam. I stepped out of the shower and looked for a lock on the bathroom door.  There wasn’t one, just a plain doorknob.  I dried off, got dressed, and waited a good long time before I opened the door and came out.

We left our back door unlocked for the milkman, and now I had learned, also for the meter  man. Why did my dad and grandfather build the bathroom with the meter inside?

When my parents got home and I complained, they dismissed it as no big deal.

Tell that to a teen who was naked on the other side of an unlocked door, one who had seen the movie Psycho, one who got freaked out while taking a long, luxurious shower.

A few days later, I took another shower down there when people were home with me, and I saw that my dad had put one of those slider locks at eye level so that I could bolt the door shut when I was in there.

I was happy to have it.

The meter man got to go home and tell his wife how he scared the living daylights out of me. I got to tell my friends how I was home alone, in the shower, when a man broke in.

We never did lock our doors, even after that. It worked out for most people in Des Moines in the 70’s, the same way we didn’t lock our cars or bring in our toys from the front yard. My little brother got his Big Wheel stolen, so that was sad. After that, we moved toys and bikes to the back yard.

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