This article originally appeared on VICE US.
I stepped into the stream, letting the warm water run over me and the fruit cupped in my hand. I had come to this shower with a mission: to join the small but enthusiastic online community of shower orange eaters.
Fingers digging into the pliable, pockmarked flesh, I began to peel back layers of skin, letting them fall to the floor. The smell of citrus entwined with the steam as I began to eat away at the tart fruit, the juices spilling out over my hands and disappearing into the oncoming current. By the time the last crescent had disappeared into my lips, the residue was all but gone, the usual unpleasant stickiness forgotten down the drain—and, I had to admit, it was wonderful. From that moment on, I was converted, drawn into the legions of online fans who had already discovered this odd but delightful combination of elements.
The origin of the online shower orange movement can be traced back to a Reddit thread posted a year ago, which posed the question "What's something unconventional everyone should try out?" In it, a Redditor by the name of PHOTON_BANDIT—who has since deleted their account—relays the story of a pivotal life moment in which a camp counselor touted the virtues of eating an orange in the shower, calling it "the most liberating, carnal, and best feel good thing you can ever experience."
"Think about it," the mythical councilor says, "Tearing apart a cold fresh orange with your bare hands, just letting the juices run over your body. Not worrying if you're going to get sticky, or anything. Just ripping it in half, and tearing into it with your teeth like a savage cannibal who hasn't eaten in a week. Yes… this is the most carnal, ferocious, liberating thing a man can do."
Despite the fact this is kind of a creepy thing to convey to a young camper, PHOTON_BANDIT and hordes of other Reddit readers were won over by this method of orange eating, and thus the ShowerOrange subreddit was born.
Over 8,000 Redditors flocked to the page and began posting about their own shower orange experiences, uploading photos of peels lying discarded on the ground alongside bare toes. Embracing this unique act of self-care, shower orange eaters have taken to the internet to encourage others to join in on the somewhat euphoric act of digging into a piece of fruit while liberated from all concerns about the resulting mess.
While some might consider the peeling of the sticky, succulent fruit a sexual act, the ShowerOrange group comes from a place of purity, laying down the law of what's allowed in the citrus-filled photos.
The group's first rule is "No Nudity," adding that "anything but genitalia" is allowed in shower orange posts, including "feet, legs, arms, bellies, and what have you." The rule writer also has a bone to pick with grapefruits, deeming them an unacceptable, and perhaps unwieldy, shower citrus choice. However, tangerines, satsumas, blood oranges, and clementines are all considered acceptable alternatives to the classic orange.
The third, and perhaps most important rule, is to "Be kind… Comment on others posts and encourage them to be the best shower orangers they can be." This feel-good notion is continued throughout the posts, as users gush about their initial shower orange experiences with threads like "Today is the first day of the rest of my life," and, "First timer. Well worth it. I'm complete."
One redditor, BourgeoisieScum, posted a photo of their discarded orange peels in the form of a heart, writing, "Happy valentine's day to everyone at r/showerorange." Another, worthij3, credits shower orange eating with redeeming their entire year, captioning their peel pic with "2017 is looking up!"
Because, hey, in this chaotic world, everyone deserves their own kind of self-care, whether it be a glass of wine, a long run, or a haze of citrusy steam and some forgiving waters to wash the unpleasant stickiness away.
As for grapefruit fans, they'll have to figure something else out.