A Bedtime Story – In hot water (or a lack thereof)

People were flatter in the ’70s.  I’m not talking about left to right thinner or up ‘n’ down thinner.  This hasn’t got anything to do with pounds per square inch.  What I’m talking about is front to back thinner.  In a word – flatter.  I suspect that the Nixon administration might have had something to do with that but I can’t actually prove it.  Perhaps some future historian will publish a scholarly work explaining that the government surreptitiously added some chemical to our drinking water which unintentionally resulted in a “flatter” population and, rather obviously, nobody noticed anyone else was flatter because everybody was flatter.  Flatter and maybe shorter.  Be that as it may, in the interim, we’ll go with what we can prove using a yard stick and a level.

It gets cold in northern Minnesota come about February.  True, “cold” is relative and I’m sure it gets “cold” elsewhere in the country.  But to be clear, when I use the term “cold”, I mean: thirty degrees below zero (before the wind chill), cats are willing to brave Mom’s potted cactus before chancing the great out-of-doors, horses are fuzzy enough you can’t tell which way they’re pointed until they move, and, honest-to-goodness, the car has been idling for two weeks straight; “COLD”. There are many “best practices” approaches to staying warm in the hinterlands in February, and one way involves large quantities of hot water.  And that brings us back around to Nixon.

Our house was constructed in the ’70s.  We purchased it in the late ’90s.  I did manage to strip out all of the shag carpet before I moved my family in.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t cover up all the Harvest Gold and I still pray that I didn’t emotionally scar the kids, at some unconscious level, by exposing them to that at such an early age.

One of the few remaining “original equipment” fixtures in the house is something the contractor sold to the home’s original owners by referring to it as a “bathtub”.  Let’s measure it up:  on the flat,  the fixture is approximately 48 inches long.  The bottom slopes upwards and, if I place my carpenter’s level at about two-thirds, I get pretty close to 7 inches before water would run into the overflow. And it’s thirty degrees below zero out there. Being solidly “middle aged”, I’d like to say that staying warm is never a problem and that a hot bath in thirty below weather is a viable solution.  Unfortunately, I can’t afford the extra time in purgatory so we’ll go with being solidly “middle aged” and approximately twelve inches through the center.  That’s belly button to backside and about five inches more than I’ve got hot water for!

And I’ve honestly tried!  I filled the tub, chased the kids out, chased the cats out, chased the dogs out, and attempted a leisurely soak.

This is not RJ’s bathtub!

Being a little over six foot, I propped my feet up on the shower wall and headed for the “deep end”.  That didn’t work out so well since I ran out of “bathtub” before I could manage to get even half of me wet. Now let’s look at this for a moment- nobody is going to pay good money to somebody, to install something designed to be filled with a large quantity of hot water, when it’s obviously neither long enough, or deep enough, to be of any sort of use once it’s filled. Kids and critters maybe, but there’s no “adult sized” version to be found in this house! This leads me to believe that the tub was installed, and paid for, because people actually used to be able to fill the things with hot water and were flat enough to get wet!

My wife walked in on my bathing endeavor and promptly collapsed on the bathroom floor in laughter.  To her credit, she did try to apologize, while I toweled off and attempted to salvage a little dignity, but I don’t think she was entirely sincere because she had to hang onto the counter while she was doing it.

When all is said and done, there is an answer to the problem.  We inherited a horse trough from Uncle Chester.  If I can figure out how to get it into the basement, and heat three hundred gallons of water, then Dad gets a hot bath in the dead of winter.  I’d like to say it’s my solution but the truth is that Chester never owned any livestock.  He kept the trough under a downspout so he could bathe when the weather warmed up enough to heat the water. Maybe Uncle Chester refused to hook up to rural water and found contentment in being “round” when everyone else was “flat”.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that Chester remained a bachelor- to the very last.

About Wade

While I've made my living from pursuits ranging from certified welder to college instructor, I'm currently employed as a multimedia and web developer- when I'm not ferrying teenagers back and forth to extracurricular activities. Father, provider . . . and taxi driver. Hobbies, if I had time for such things, would include horses, metal work (machining, welding and enameling) and woodworking. My wife enjoys candle making, stained glass, and rescuing two and four footed strays.

7 thoughts on “A Bedtime Story – In hot water (or a lack thereof)

  1. I feel your pain. I too have a house from the seventies. The tubs are “normal” size (as my wife likes to say). I don’t think there is much in this world made for us plus six footers. Be that house, cars, or clothes.

    Would you like some real pain go to a shoe store with size 14/15 feet. Ask, what do you have in my size? Fifteen minutes later they walk out with two pair of rejects from the previous decade.

  2. I am 5 foot 2 inches and I have trouble in MY bathtub!!! It ain’t always about tall people … these tubs have GOT to go!! I think I’ll drag a horse tank into my house and see what hubby says – not much of a chance, though – he takes showers!!!!

  3. On February 6th, 2008 at 3:00 pm, Greg wrote:
    Would you like some real pain go to a shoe store with size 14/15 feet. Ask, what do you have in my size? Fifteen minutes later they walk out with two pair of rejects from the previous decade.

    Actually, I have some experience with the shoe size problem. Happily it’s not “personal” experience!

    We ended up with a college student named Nathan living on our couch for about a year or so. My wife is of solid German/Polish stock and is genetically predisposed to feeding lost and/or hungry looking kids ‘n’ critters. If it’s scrawny, and opens its mouth, she’ll shove food in it.

    The above adequately describes why, at no time during the entirety of our married life, I haven’t been actively supporting a “zoo”. The various species may differ from year to year, but the number of mouths to feed tends towards a constant. But I digress.

    Anyway, Nathan must’ve started late because he was still very much dealing with the gangly stage at 18, had to learn to duck so the ceiling fan didn’t scalp him every time he walked into the living room, and was nowhere near having grown into his feet.

    To make a long story short(er), my wife doesn’t subscribe to the notion that it takes at least 6 months of daily wear to get a pair of shoes broken in and that rips/tears/depleted rubber don’t qualify as a good reason to give up on a pair of shoes- having finally gotten them to the “comfortable” stage. So we went shoe shopping, with Nathan in tow, at least twice. What a trial! “Athletic” shoes could be found, in the necessary size, without undo strain. Something suitable for church and other “off the court” situations proved to be a serious challenge!

  4. On February 7th, 2008 at 7:47 am, cpthegreat wrote:

    I am 5 foot 2 inches and I have trouble in MY bathtub!!! It ain’t
    always about tall people … these tubs have GOT to go!!

    I agree!

    And if they can’t be replaced with something reasonably deep, *without* having to buy a pump and jets for it (my bathroom floor won’t support a jacuzzi!), how can the darned things be fixed!

    I need to make the acquaintance of somebody that knows how to work fiberglass. I do metal and I’m not too bad with wood. I can certainly do the plumbing. Fiberglass is something I know very little about.

    The tub needs to be pulled out, parted at about 2 inches below the rim, a 12 inch “filler” strip fiberglassed in, refinished, and then replaced. If a person knew what they were doing, I’ll bet the entire process wouldn’t take more than a week of evenings to accomplish.

    But that’s just me talking. ;-)

  5. Believe it or not – but in the last year, Kohler and a couple of others, have come up with a “soaking” tub! Apparently, enough non-flat people have complained and the new invention comes in 3 lengths: 5, 5.5, and 6 ft; and is 20 inches tall – 5 inches deeper than our conventional ‘bath’ tubs. And no jets, etc, necessary. Just an old-fashioned size modern looking tub. Wish I had one. Wonder if you could bathe in it, too? – or only soak? Boy, wouldn’t that feel good though – especially this weekend with -50 windchills predicted.

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