Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Getting Connected With Your Bath

I find it curiouser and curiouser that no one has paid attention to toe-controlled water faucets.

I enjoyed Andy Rooney even though I disagreed with him at times. He once did a video essay on bathing and he really missed the mark. He said that few people bathed anymore and that taking a shower was not only the accepted method, but the preferred method of getting clean.  He then rushed to the conclusion that we should do away with bathtubs. I was irate in my mental response.

In the Navy showering was usually the only method of getting clean. Wherever there was Navy there were showers without a bathtub in site. One of my joys of exiting the Navy, other than ready access to peanut butter and banana sandwiches, was the privilege of bathing. In a bathtub.

I grew up bathing and spent many an hour playing with my little baking soda powered submarine. My mother would put baking soda in the little compartment of the boat, and when put in the bath the baking soda would react with the water and gurgle and scoot across the bath water and dive and cavort better than real submarines can. It was a delight. And I think it will be a delight again.

My sister always has the knack of getting inexpensive but meaningful birthday gifts. The other day I received in the mail a baking soda driven Diving Submarine. It is a little bigger and fancier than the one I had as a child. She remembered that when I would bathe as a tot I always had that submarine there. (She also remembered stealing that little submarine and playing with it herself.) That one cheap little gift unleashed a boatload of memories, and I can’t wait to try it again.

But that is not the only reason Mr. Rooney was wrong. The goal of taking a shower is quickly getting clean and getting out of there. The shower represents a task that has to be performed. A hot bath together with a book to read while bathing is a ritual, an escape into a private world of warmth and peace. If bathing is not manly, as Mr. Rooney slyly intimated, then I will stand by my unmanliness. And I also proclaim myself pretty damned good to fist squirting.

If while bathing you have nothing to read and are antsy for something to occupy yourself, learn fist squirting. This is simply making fists to each side of yourself, half submerged in the bath water, the suddenly squish each fist tightly, you be amazed to witness a squirt of water shooting out the end of your fist. It takes a little practice. But as you become adept at this you might someday become like me and direct squirts precisely at your target big toe. I am pretty sure that I am a champion at this not-yet-olympic sport.

Bathing though comes with some difficulties. When I lean back enveloped in the hot water I usually read. If the book is good I will become absorbed and in fifteen minutes or so the bathwater will cool down. This won’t do. The hot water must be turned on for a while to bring the experience back to its Nirvana state. This is a big interruption in the whole process. You have to put the book aside, lean forward while groaning, turn on the faucet and wait while the water is heated up, turn the faucet off and lean back and get back to what you were doing. So, to make the process a little easier, I usually try to take care of the faucet thing with my feet and toes. I am now an expert of faucets and understand which ones are toe-friendly. I really think you entrepreneurs out there could make a killing if you designed a toe-controlled faucet, and advertised it as such. I would be glad to provide a testimonial.

All of this leads to surgery recovery. Let’s say you have had facial surgery – perhaps some tumors removed from under your jaw just under your left earlobe. You have suffered the indignity of mooning everyone in the hospital with hospital gowns designed in 1884 that have no back. You are woozy and confused and every time you try to push the button to change the elevation of the bed, you inadvertently hit the nurse-call button and the weary nurse is tired of bursting into you room when she knows you screwed up again. You try to explain that you got confused but your words slur because the nerve that controls your left bottom lip didn’t like being harassed and is rebelling. Everything is a blur and you pop pain pills to stop the burning on the left side of your face – and all you want is to get out of there. To something familiar.

 Finally you are home and you need comfort. And cleaning. Well, you could take a shower as long as had someone to hold you up because you seem to wobble and bounce against the shower walls. Then there is that bandage. You have to either put a plastic bag over your head and not breathe too much or experiment with the shower head to get the spray just right. That is asking a lot at a time like that. The simple solution is to sink slowly into a bath all the way up to your armpits. The absolute Number One cure for post surgery ailments. Take that Mr. Rooney!

Yes. I am home recovering from surgery – a surgery that was supposed to take an hour and a half but took three and a half hours because they found not one marble size tumor, but a bunch of pearl sized tumors hidden in there too. All benign. I don’t want to talk about this too much. I was in M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and while I was in surgery, there were thirty seven other surgeries going on at the same time. Those were cancer surgeries. Those brave patients weren’t going home the next day to a warm bath. They were condemned to spend months in the hospital undergoing multiple surgeries and radiation and chemo treatments. I have nothing to complain about.

I once…okay, twice…dropped a library book into the bath water. I have to admit that there is this hazard to my daily bathing regime. Both times I humbly fessed up to the librarian. The first time the kind librarian lady laughed, but she let me off the hook. The second time she issued a smirking warning that she was going to have to charge me for the book if I did it again. That imbued me with such fear that I haven’t baptized a book since.

But consider what would have happened if I had dropped a Kindle or IPad into the water. So I shun this electronic book reading media, for their own protection.

My daughter, in a continuing effort to get me ‘connected’ gave me a Kindle about a year ago which I have never got around to using. Then for my birthday she gave me an IPad for my connectivity enjoyment. I was pretty excited because I see other people pretty excited when they get an IPad. I asked her what I was supposed to do with it, and her answer seemed kind of vague. So I figured that I was supposed to experience the joy of discovery on my own.

Instructions. There weren’t any to speak of, and what was there required a magnifying glass to even see. There was something written about ITunes which I figured meant that I was supposed to load that program. I did. Then I connected the IPad to my computer and all kinds of things popped on my screen, one of which said that my IPad program needed updating. Okay, so I told it to update the damn thing. Then it got hung up in updating somehow and the computer told me that I had to refresh my program and when I tried that everything locked up. And my IPad was dead.

How is it that every six year old walks merrily around IPadding and I can’t get to step one? I thought these things were supposed to be simple.  My choices then were to start using the thing as a little serving tray, or call my son.

“Why did you connect to ITunes?” he asked accusingly.

“Uh, the instructions, which were in tiny, tiny letters by the way, said something about ITunes.” I hate being told that I screwed up step one.

“You didn’t need to connect to ITunes. You should have just turned it on and gone from there. Connect to your WiFi.”


He had me bring the IPad to his house and I got to listen to him complain that now he had to download ITunes, which he hates, so he could untangle my mess and bring my IPad back to life. It took him three hours.

So now I have an operating IPad and I don’t know what to do with it. It isn’t as simple as it is supposed to be. I did download an ‘App’ – something to show me the weather radar. I figured out how to take a picture. And I guess I could send an email, but I could do that already. I suspect I could send messages…to who? Other IPad users? I could watch movies I think. I prefer a big screen for that.

My IPad has been sitting on my desk for a month. I don’t know what to do with the thing. I am not interested in games or watching movies. Surely there is another use for it. I just haven’t figured it out. I don’t want to hurt my daughter’s feelings, but I don’t feel connected yet. So far, it just seems like something to play games on.

Maybe I just don’t get it yet.


  1. Hi Jerry,
    I'm very glad to hear that you are at home now and on the mend. Fast and happy healing to you! I couldn't agree with you more about baths, and have been known to baptise a book or two myself. That's where the idea of a Kindle tempts me, but scares me simultaneously. On the one hand, it's rather difficult to keep a 1000 page book aloft without dropping it into the tub, and a Kindle might be easier to hold up. On the other hand, if it does happen to go for a swim, it probably won't come back alive. I hope you figure out what your iPad is for... although I have to confess, we got my father-in-law one for Father's Day and he discovered that if he took it back to the store, they would give him money. So maybe that's what it's for.

  2. Jerry! You are out and about, finally! If you get tired of messing with your iPad, I know an address you could send it to, hehehe.

  3. We have been without a functioning bathtub for ten years. It's awful. Every time we go on vacation, I take a leisurely bath in some strange hotel room setting, which isn't quite the same. We have a tub/shower combinaton but he plug has been missing before we moved in. I've tried every available plug on the market and nothing works. I even tried shoving a washcloth down the drainhole. No luck. I miss baths.

    Glad to hear you are on the mend! Not sure what I'd use an iPad for either, but I adore my Kindle.


  4. I know the joy and comfort of a long hot bath with a great book. And in this house, I had the faucets with the long handles sticking out (instead of knobs) installed; so I can easily turn the hot water back on with my toes, if I so desire!

    Glad you are home and on the mend; I've been wondering about you.

    As for the iPad....well, I don't really know what it's for since I don't have one but if you send it here I'm sure I could figure it out for you!

  5. First off, I'm happy to hear that you are doing well and that the ordeal is just about over with. I'm with you on the bath. I grew up in houses without showers. Heck, one of them didn't even have a bathtub! I used to love relaxing in a hot tub. Sometimes, I'd even put some bubble bath in there. Toe controls! Why hasn't anyone EVER thought of this? You are clearly a genius sir!

  6. So happy you're back, I've been checking on your blogs wondering about you. I'm very happy to hear everything went well. As a single mom every year when I'm asked what I would like as a gift for Christmas or birthday I've answer a night away so I can take a bath without a *knock knock* Mama can I have a juice, Mama are you done yet" I have yet to get that, so enjoy your baths and your new toy! Try not to drop any books :)

  7. Good health to you, Jerry. I had an outpatient surgery to remove a squamous cell carcinoma from my upper arm and got a nice 5 inch scar. But, damn it, the dermatologist did such a neat job I'm told the scar will fade out of sight.

    I used to like baths, too, but I'm too old now to clamber out of the tub safely. Plus, the new tubs aren't as long or big as the old ones were!

  8. I never cared for baths because I felt like a dumpling in my own stew, and I take inappropriately long showers that don't have much to do with getting clean after the first minute. We had a tub installed downstairs in case anyone comes to visit who wants a bath. We've had one taker in 15 years. So it's all ready for you.

  9. Welcome back. After my own surgical adventures I have come to the conclusion having an operation is like taking the car in for service. The mechanic tells you what is wrong, then digs in there and finds a myriad of other things you never knew existed that must be taken care of lest the car end up in the big junkyard in the sky.

    I don't take my reader in the bath, but I did have one of the submarines and needed and an endless supply of baking soda. It was great.

    Try to enjoy as much as you can of the torture of recovery, I'd like to say its a learning experience but I would lie and thats not nice. Its just not having to go to work everyday and having a respite that should be enjoyable. :}

  10. I tend to fall asleep in a bath, wife keeps thinking I may drown so if we are going somewhere the shower it is. My kindle doesn't go into the bath for the reasons you stated.

    Now my next trick is getting our two year old Grandson to explain the tablet I got Cindy for her birthday :^)

    actually did a post about that today.

    Good to see you my Friend

  11. Glad to hear from you ... get better fast! I'm a shower person (actually, there is no tub in my new place-the bathroom is too small). When I was a kid we did have a tub and I did have a submarine like yours - hadn't thought of that in years! I agree with you on all the gee-gaws out there. I'm constantly calling my son for help, which seems to both annoy and amuse him! I have threatened one and all about ever gifting me with a tablet, nook or cranny! I love holding a book, carrying a book around, arraning them on bookshelves (which I also love). I have a simple you, I have no idea what I'd do with anything more.

  12. Oh I enjoyed reading this so much.;) I share your fondness of baths. I do not take baths often, but if I could, i would. What Mr. Rooney hinted at in his small monologs actually happened in Denmark. There was a fashion at one point not to instal bathtubs in houses and apartments, to conserve water. I woudl still like to read a research on whether you actually do - I can stand in a shower, with hot water running, for up to 15 minutes. I think I could have filled several bathtubs during that time.;) So I have not had a bathtub in my home for almost 12 years and I miss it. My next home MUST have one.;)
    Sorry to hear about your operation but good to hear the tumors were benign.
    As for iPad, you need to start exploring. It can of course do everything your computer does, but it is so simple to take it with you anywhere in the house. You can even use it while in bath reading books and writing emails, or even blog posts. I gave one as a gift to my husband and he was skeptical too at first, but now he loves it.;)
    Have a great week,

  13. Oh, I am completely in your bath team- love 'em! I am very jealous of your bath toy and off to Ebay to get one myself as my rubber duckie sulks in the corner:-)
    Glad you are home safe and well
    Caroline x

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