“My Happy Place” The Marvelous, Magical, Mystical Powers of a Bath


“There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.”

Sylvia Plath

I am a slave to hot water. It began in my childhood, at what age I cannot say for certain. I can envision myself and my two sisters bobbing around in our bathtub, a simple no frills fixture unlike the whirlpool spas of today. My mother, who instilled this love of baths in us, laid peacefully center.  It was those calming waters which somehow righted every wrong and made life at the end of the day oh so much more delightful.  “Can you start the tub?” we would call to my mother nightly and upon hearing the rumble of the water racing through the faucet, would immediately feel comforted.

As I grew into older childhood my nightly baths and love of, continued.  I remember bringing into the tub different props for amusement. My fondest memory involve the Barbie dolls which I would plunge into the water, their perfect bodies and pointed toes gracefully leaping from the soap holder which I would use as a makeshift diving board.

When I left for college I realized with some dismay, that my nightly baths ritual would become a thing no more. Bathing in a dorm bathroom shared by who knows how many others was something I did not find appealing – not to mention the cleanliness factor. Yes sadly, my nightly baths ceased upon entering freshman year in college and were promptly replaced by a shower.

Yet one night, the old urge struck. Returning from a night out and perhaps one Tequila Sunrise too many, I made my way to the dorm bathroom.  Perfect! At 3AM on a weekday there was not a soul in sight. I undressed and proceeded to the sink, my towel tightly wrapped around me. As I began to brush my teeth I felt the towel slipping. As it fell to the floor I was faced with two choices: pick it up immediately or finish brushing and then retrieve the towel.  Given the late hour and the desolateness of the dorm, I opted for the latter – my fatal mistake. As if in a dream I watched the bathroom door swing open to reveal a tall sleepy male, no doubt someone’s boyfriend as my dorm was all women. His eyes, which only moments before were half slits were now golf balls as he gaped at me standing before him, stark nude, tooth-brush still in hand.  I shrieked, tore past him and jumped on my roommate’s bed. Babbling and breathless I attempted to explain to her what still rates as one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.  Oh bath, how could you have forsaken me?

When I became engaged and began staying overnight at my fiance’s apartment I learned the meaning of true love.  Craving my bath one night, I mentioned that his tub did not seem well, completely clean.  I asked where I could find his cleaning supplies. “Do you have to have a bath every night?” he asked with some annoyance as he disappeared into the kitchen. Returning with a can of Comet and scrub brush he for the next 15 minutes, painstakingly cleaned the tub for me. And with that gesture, I knew I was marrying the right man.

I have two sons who have inherited their mother and grandmother’s love of baths.  I can hear the water running nightly and I have caught them filling up the tub to play their own Barbie doll type of diving game but instead they use pencils.  They catapult the pencils off the side of the tub in their own game of acrobatics.  At any hour, morning or night, at the slightest hint of a stomach ache or joint discomfort from sports, a tub is running.  Aqua therapy of sort.  I realize this is a luxury in our society and lecture them on the number and length of time spent in the bath.  But it often falls on deaf ears as my son races in from school, drops his back pack in the corner and heads up to the bathroom to turn on the bath.  He too understands the healing of the waters.

My adult bath ritual has changed only slightly since childhood.  I still take one every single night, but instead of the Barbies I bring one guilty pleasure which I lay on the side of the tub; four Hershey Chocolate kisses.  My second favorite comfort in life.



The Soup Thief


Day One – Torture. It is nearing lunchtime and I am missing my daily fix. Surely I can make it till dinner. Or can I?

Day Two – I am ashamed to say that I broke down and drove past the store, but success! did not enter, just circled, three times…

Day Three – The cravings have ceased and I have scheduled an exercise class for the same time I usually case the store, though it is unfortunately directly across the street.

I will get through this with or without the help of a higher power.

I am addicted to soup. There I have said it. It began in those formative years of childhood. My mother a soup lover herself made it a family staple. My son’s kindergarten “All about me” poster highlights “Tomato soup with a touch of milk” as his favorite food. He and his brother still have soup almost daily for lunch. I just heard of a study that claims as an adult, you crave those foods you loved most as a baby and youngster. I have loved soup for as far back as I can remember. Zesty Tomato, the steamy, soothing broth of Chicken Noodle, the silky smoothness of “The Creams”… Cream of Chicken, Cream of Celery, Cream of Mushroom, Chowders, both Manhattan and New England battled for top dog in my dreams. When I was bitten by a Dalmatian as a child, I recall the calming words of my father as we drove home…”we will make you a nice bowl of soup.” Yes, I love soup. So the day I discovered a certain market in a certain area of CT that offered complimentary samples of their soups, I was hooked.

But then it turned dark. What began as a simple game of choice spun out of control as I found myself visiting the store often on a daily basis for a quick sample of the fabulous soup. I could never have just one.

The “sample” turned into two, then three as I maniacally went from pot to pot, ladle in hand. I had different routines. Sometimes, I would stand and sample all six choices at a time. Other days, I would ladle one sample into the small Dixie cup set out for those customers who could indeed have just one, and cruise the store casually, cup in hand pretending to find other groceries on my list. On good days, there would only be two soups of the six whose flavor struck my fancy. On bad days which was more the norm, I was torn between all six, repeating the sampling of my favorite ones again and again. When Manhattan Clam Chowder was set out, I could go easily through four dixies.. The travesty of this whole affair was that after my obsessive sampling, I was no longer hungry enough to buy a cup of soup and ended up leaving the store with one or two other needless items I picked up hastily, guilt ridden. I could not help it you see. I really intended to buy a cup of the soup but as each sample turned into one more delicious than its predecessor I found I could not stop, all the while wary of a hidden camera or wily store manager who would pop out from behind the fruit stand and accost me “You!!! NO MORE SAMPLES! We are on to you!”

Yes, I had become one of those people I would watch at Costco or Stew Leonards as they lingered at the sample cart, wolfing yet another pig in a blanket, then circling and returning not ten minutes later for the second tasting. Lunch in samples. I had hit rock bottom. I was that person. I was a soup thief.

I often drive by that market and recall the soup bar. I pray that I am not the feature attraction at the company holiday party. I visualize a group of employees, eggnog in hand, a happy hour of sorts at my expense. They revel around the television as the tape plays. They pause, freeze, then replay again amid snide comments: “Watch how she walks around to Produce, picks up a head of lettuce and then circles back again for another “taste” of the hot and sour!” Howls of laughter. “I wonder what happened to that lady, she never comes in anymore…” I squelch the delusion and pray it is only that. I feel relieved I have conquered my addiction. I no longer frequent the store.

I was in Stop and Shop yesterday and spotted their soup bar. Three simple choices of soup were set out in a tidy row, their steam and flavorful aroma beckoning shoppers. I approached the soup bar, my heart pounding — There were no cups for sampling. I was saved.