To me, a hot bath is one of the most relaxing things on earth. The minute I feel stressed, I’m in the bathroom running the water for my bath. And after shoveling snow, when my back is crying out in protest, nothing beats a nice long soak.
The first ten years of my marriage, I was stuck with a bathtub that was so shallow, my navel never even got wet. I had to lie flat on my back if I wanted to soak.
The next tub we had was a much deeper garden tub with two built-in steps leading into it. It also was made of some kind of cheap plastic. Within only a few years, the tub had more cracks in it than an old sidewalk. And I can’t count the number of times I, with my feet soaking-wet, climbed out of that tub and ended up looking like some bad naked acrobat going down those two steps.
My husband always hated baths. He thought nothing was more boring than sitting in a tub of water. He also thought baths were disgusting.
“You’re sitting in your own dirt when you take a bath!” he’d say. “How can that be considered cleanly? The dirt has nowhere to go – you’re trapped in the tub with it. At least when you take a shower, the dirt goes down the drain and away from your body. Now, that’s clean!”
He made it sound as if I’d spent the day jumping into mud pits.
One night, however, when my husband was feeling achy all over, I managed to convince him to try taking a nice long soak. I even ran the bathwater for him. I’m the type who likes really hot baths – the kind that turn my skin pink. So when I drew the bath for him, I put mostly hot water into the tub.
When he stepped into it, I think the people two streets over could hear him screaming, “Aaaaagggghhh! What are you trying to do, boil me alive?”
So when our current house was being built, I vowed to make the master bathroom my own personal and private retreat. I not only bought a really deep, up-to-my-neck soaking tub, I installed a small, flat-screen TV on the wall facing it. I was fully prepared to live in that tub.
I knew, however, that before I could enjoy the ultimate bathing experience, I had to find some way to solve the problem of running out of hot water when filling such a big tub. The solution was one of those hot-water-on-demand systems. It flash heats water in only seconds, and then continues to heat as much water as needed without any interruption, even if it’s 100 gallons. The system is amazing. I can take baths so hot, I can see the steam rising from my skin.
I hate to say it, but having the bathroom of my dreams these past five years has had a few negative effects. For one, soaking isn’t a spontaneous thing – it involves a complicated process of getting prepared. I first have to gather my necessities, like my moisturizing soap, razor, washcloth, bath towel, something to drink (hot baths make me thirsty), two remote controls (one for the TV and the other for the satellite box), my telephone, bath pillow, a snack, my exfoliating sponge and a rubber band to tie my hair in a ponytail.
By the time I have everything ready for my bath, I’m so tired, I usually doze off the minute I hit the water.
“Aren’t you afraid you might drown?” my aunt asked me. “Falling asleep in the tub is dangerous.”
“Nah,” I assured her. “If it came to the point where my face actually went underwater, I’m sure I’d wake up.”
She didn’t seem at all convinced. In fact, the look on her face told me she thought I should hire a bathroom lifeguard.
And phone calls always are a little awkward when I’m soaking.
“Hi!” the caller, usually one of my friends, will say. “What’re you doing?”
“Oh, I’m just soaking in the tub right now,” I answer.
A period of silence usually follows. I’m not sure if it’s because the caller is surprised to hear I’m talking on the phone while in the tub, or if the vision that my statement brings to mind is so shocking and disturbing, it renders the person speechless.
It’s not uncommon for me to watch an entire two-hour movie while soaking. It’s also not uncommon for my skin to look as white and wrinkly as cheesecloth by the time the movie is over.
But now that spring and warmer weather rapidly are approaching, I realize my long, hot baths are numbered. So I’m going to try to squeeze in as many as I possibly can before the inevitable heat and humidity arrive.
In fact, I’m writing this while soaking.