People wereÂ flatter in the ’70s. Â I’m not talking about left to right thinner or up ‘n’ down thinner. Â This hasn’t got anything to do with pounds per square inch. Â What I’m talking about is front to back thinner. Â In a word – flatter.Â Â I suspect that the Nixon administration might have had something to do with that but I can’t actually prove it. Â 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. Â Flatter and maybe shorter. Â 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. Â True, “cold” is relative and I’m sure it gets “cold” elsewhere in the country. Â 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”.Â There areÂ many “best practices” approaches to staying warm in the hinterlands in February, and one way involves large quantities of hot water. Â And that brings us back around to Nixon.
Our house was constructed in the ’70s. Â We purchased it in the late ’90s. Â I did manage to strip out all of the shag carpet before I moved my family in. Â 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”. Â Let’s measure it up: Â on the flat, Â the fixture is approximately 48 inches long. Â 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.Â 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. Â 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. Â That’s belly button to backside and about five inches more than I’ve got hot water for!
And I’ve honestly tried! Â I filled the tub, chased the kids out, chased the cats out, chased the dogs out, and attempted a leisurely soak.
Being a little over six foot, I propped my feet up on the shower wall and headed for the “deep end”. Â That didn’t work out so well since I ran out of “bathtub” before I could manage to get even half of me wet.Â 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. Â 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. Â We inherited a horse trough from Uncle Chester. Â 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. Â I’d like to say it’s my solution but the truth is that Chester never owned any livestock. Â 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”. Â I don’t know. Â What I do know is that Chester remained a bachelor- to the very last.