DEAR ABBY: I totally disagree with your answer to "Separate Bedrooms in the Future," the man who complained that his wife doesn't bathe every day. Who would want to share a bed or have sex with a woman who doesn't bathe or shower every day? It makes me wonder if she washes her hands before preparing dinner. Disgusting, to put it mildly! I was sure you knew better. -- LEON W., SKOKIE, ILL.
DEAR LEON W.: "Separate Bedrooms" has been married to his wife for 35 years. Until he retired from his job, he never noticed that she didn't bathe every day. He didn't complain that she didn't wash her hands before preparing food -- and he's watching her like a hawk -- so let's give her the benefit of the doubt. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: As an internist, I treat people every day for conditions ranging from contact dermatitis to fungal rashes that would not occur if people gave up bathing daily. The skin is covered in bacteria that constitute "normal flora." It is not to anyone's advantage to wash these beneficial bacteria away, as it leaves one open to rashes and skin irritation from a number of sources. Also, to state the obvious, if he's been married to her for 35 good years, then a rose by any other name could not smell as sweet. -- MICHAEL G., M.D., JOHNSON CITY, TENN.
DEAR ABBY: We Americans are so obsessed with cleanliness that we may be endangering our health. Exposure to bacteria helps us to develop antibodies to fight disease. Studies are under way to see if the autoimmune diseases may be at least partly due to so much cleanliness that our immune systems have nothing to do but attack healthy tissue.
In Europe, whose culture and lifestyle are otherwise similar to ours, people bathe less often than we do. It was also fine with our ancestors, who bathed only on Saturday nights!
"Separate" should be thankful he's living with someone hygienic enough that he can't tell the difference. -- DAILY BATHER BUT HOLD THE ANTI-BACTERIAL SOAP
DEAR ABBY: I lived in Italy for a year. When my Italian hosts realized I was showering every day, they thought I was crazy. The only thing you really need to wash every day are your private parts. That's why bidets are so common in Europe. -- ERIN IN HESPERIA, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a nurse, but you don't have to be a nurse to know that a few dead skin cells aren't harmful. For someone with dry skin, a daily bath can do more harm than good. That husband must have other problems going on -- like retirement boredom, as you suggested. I wonder if he drove his former co-workers nuts, too? Thanks for setting him straight. -- KOKOMO, IND., R.N.
DEAR ABBY: Queen Isabella of Spain, one of history's most famous rulers and sponsor of Christopher Columbus' voyages, bragged that she took only two baths in her entire life -- when she was born and when she got married. Of course, hygiene standards have improved in 500 years. -- ROBERT C., ATHENS, GA.
DEAR ABBY: If that jackass figured out a way to make a lady "work up a sweat," maybe they could shower together -- THOMAS MC D., CINCINNATI
DEAR ABBY: "Separate Bedrooms in the Future" needs a hobby. He's a perfect example of why women hate it when their husbands retire! -- PAT IN LAS VEGAS