Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tubby Time for Tough Guys

I like to take long soaks in the bathtub. This does not make me less of a man. Really, it doesn't. Tough guys can take tubby time, too.

When my wife's sister heard that I like to take baths, she made fun of me, called me a "girl," and compared me to Chandler Bing, the character from the show Friends. (For the record, I'm not quite like Chandler Bing. I'm more like a cross between Chandler Bing and Ned Flanders.) (Hi-duhlee-ho, neighbor-eeno!)

She then quoted from the Friends episode where Chandler discovers he really likes to take bubble baths. (My sister-in-law has a Friends quote for every occasion, sort of like I used to have a M*A*S*H* quote for every occasion. It's kind of a generational thing.)

I guess that's the image that comes to mind when you hear a guy likes to take baths: Chandler Bing soaking in a bubble bath, desperately clinging to his manhood in the form of a toy boat.

Yes, that's me as a baby, taking a bath.
(I am very grateful for the strategically placed red donut!)

But, that's not how I take baths. I haven't taken a bubble bath since I was a kid. The only bubbles in my bath are from the jetted tub and/or the periodic farts. And, I don't have any toy boats. (Although maybe I should get one.) My baths are therapeutic.

Liking to bathe is a relatively new phenomenon for me. When I was single, I hardly ever took a bath. (For the record, I did shower every day.) (Well, at least every day that I ventured out of my Fortress of Solitude to face the real world.) About the only time I ever soaked back then was when I was battling kidney stones. (And when you are battling kidney stones, you'll try anything to take the edge off.)

Shortly after I got married, I switched jobs to the one I currently have. For reasons known only to a crazed architect (who I'd like to punch in the face), the offices are up a long flight of 34 stairs. I have to go up and down these stairs more than a dozen times a day. Truck drivers seeing me on the stairs will often say, "These stairs must keep you in shape." I point to my gut and reply, "You'd think so, but no. All they do is beat the heck out of my knees." And that's the truth.

I'd been at the job for three or four months, and my knees were killing me. Then, serendipity helped me out. For the six-month anniversary of our wedding, The Wife and I went back to the bed and breakfast where we spent our wedding night. (We don't celebrate our six-month anniversaries anymore now that we're no longer in the "shappy" phase of the relationship. [Shappy=sappy+happy] In fact, our six-month anniversary just passed a few days ago without either of us noticing. Still, we had a good evening doing the things we like to do these days: watching a couple of episodes of Castle and hope-hope-hoping that the kids actually go to sleep and stay asleep.)

Anyway, one of the amenities of our room (along with a really cool Scooby-Doo-ish "hidden" wall door!) was a two-person jetted tub. We liked and enjoyed the tub.

I was back at work the next day. As I walked up the stairs I noticed that my knees didn't hurt anymore! It was the Miracle of the Jetted Tub!

At first, I wondered how a little soak in hot bath could help my knees so much, but then I remembered the television crime dramas that I grew up watching in the 1970s. Shows like MacMillan & Wife, Barnaby Jones, and Charlie's Angels would occasionally have a plot that involved murder and intrigue inside the rough and tumble world of professional football. These episodes would usually showcase real-life tough guy football players as guest stars. Tough guys like Joe Namath. (Wait. He was known for wearing panty hose and fur coats. Not a tough guy.) Tough guys like Rosie Greer. (Wait. He was known for his love of needlepoint, not the activity of a tough guy.) Tough guys like Deacon Jones and Ben Davidson. (Okay, now these are a couple of real tough guys who would head-slap their own mothers if it meant they could get to the quarterback.)

These shows would invariably show a locker room scene in which, after a rough game or practice, one of the tough guys would be soaking in a hot tub. These tubs were called "whirlpools" or "spas," and no one questioned the toughness of the guys soaking in them. It wasn't girly, it was therapeutic.

So, after that, every two or three weeks (or whenever my knees demanded it) I would take a soak in the tub. It was easy to find time to do this before we had kids. Even after The Girl came along I could synchronize my tub time with her naps, putting the baby monitor near the tub so I could listen for her.

A few months later, when we moved from a condo to our house, the large jetted tub in the master suite was a definite selling point. I guess we could have looked for a house with a hot tub on the back deck. It's interesting how different the perception of me would be if my soaks were in a hot tub on the deck instead of a jetted tub in the bathroom:

     Bathroom tub=girly man
     Hot tub on deck=horndog

But, I don't want a hot tub on the deck, at least not now. There are three reasons: 1) I can't afford to put a hot tub on the deck. 2) While the kids are little, there would be safety concerns about a hot tub. And c) in a few years, when the kids are teenagers, I wouldn't want it to attract the horndogs and the hoochie-mamas.
I would love to have one of these at the house, but I'm afraid it would attract the horndogs and the hoochie-mamas.

So, we don't have a hot tub, just the jetted tub in the bathroom. Unfortunately, now that we have the two kids it is becoming more and more difficult to find the time to take my therapeutic soaks. "Nap time" is often more of an abstract concept than an actual reality. Also, The Girl has learned to move stealthily enough that I can't always hear her in the baby monitor. Plus, both kids have mastered the art of doorknob operation. (Things were so much easier when they couldn't open doors!) Any time I try to bathe now, I'm always on edge. And my knees are suffering for it.

Last week I finally had a perfect opportunity for a good bath. The kids were down for naps, and were both actually sleeping! The Wife was home, working on some schoolwork, and said she would take care of them if they woke up. So, I drew a bath. [Rant Alert: "Drew a bath?" What kind of stupid expression is that? What, do I suddenly have to become an artist to be able to get water in the tub? That may be the dumbest phrase I have ever heard! End rant]

I got in the tub, filled it with water, and started to soak. I had the bedroom door closed, but the door from the bathroom to the bedroom open to keep some air circulating. I had just started to relax when I heard it. "MMROWULLL!" I had shut the cat in the bedroom. "MMROWULLL!" She wanted out. When our cat "talks," she sounds like someone is putting a fork through her foot. (This confuses The Boy, our 2-year-old. He is learning from books that cats say "meow," but his real-world experience is that they say "MMROWULLL!")

Instead of a nice, relaxing bath, I got to spend the next ten minutes listening to our caterwauling cat.

I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever get another uninterrupted soak. Maybe there is some way I could make it into the NFL so I can use their "whirlpools" and "spas." I can be a tough guy. (I wonder if they'll let me bring my toy boat.)

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