Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Ballad of the F-Bomb and the Claw Foot Tub

First, there's the swearing.

So I was sitting with my daughters on the front porch, eating ice cream, when my wife mentioned this family we know--the Swits. My little three-year-old said, "In Spanish you would pronounce it sh*ts." I frowned at her in concern. She's had a long standing habit of speaking what we call "fake Spanish," but where had she heard that word? "That's just how you'd pronounce it," she reassured me, perhaps because I looked so worried.

I glanced over at my eight-year-old to see if she had registered the use of a forbidden word, but she seemed oblivious. Then the three-year-old said, "Do you know how to pronounce 'frog' in Spanish? You say f*ck." My frown deepened. My innocent little one had just dropped her first F-Bomb. "Sh*t and f*ck," she over enunciated, "That's Spanish."

I quizzed her a little as nonchalantly as possible. Had she heard those words from somebody? "Nope, Dad," she answered, "It's just Spanish." Later, I checked in with my wife to see if she had heard anyone swearing around the kids or if, heaven forbid, it had been one of us.

"I don't think so," she answered with deep concern, "I mean, maybe she might have heard the S-word, but I don't think so. And the F-word? Definitely not. I mean, I hope not. I hope she just made it up."

"Both of them?" I asked, "The S-word and the F-word? Together? She just spontaneously invented swearing?"

"I hope so," my wife answered, but she sounded less than convinced. Me too.

And then, there's the claw foot tub.

So about an hour later, I was getting ready to give the girls their bath in the new upstairs bathroom. We have a claw foot tub. It is very pretty and elegant, but I'm not all that fond of it. It was in the house when we bought it--the house is from 1902, so there's no telling how old the tub is--and I was leery about it right from the start. I'm a shower-man myself. I don't really take baths. And with a claw foot tub, you have to hang shower curtains all the way around it if you're going to shower, which seems kind of impractical and inelegant. And it's also clumsy stepping into and out of the claw foot in the first place, a problem aggravated by the addition of a shower curtain. So I was against the tub. I thought we should get a cool, modern, glass doored shower for the upstairs bathroom. I conceded as how we could maybe leave the tub in the first floor bathroom as a decorative piece. But my wife, who is much more stylish than I am, had other plans.

So we carried the claw foot tub up to the newly constructed upstairs bathroom and it became our sole bathing option. It's very pretty looking with all kinds of gleaming chrome spigots and porcelain handles for the tub spigot, the hand-held shower attachment and the overhead shower. But right from the start, the claw foot has given me problems. At first, we just had one curtain around it, but the water shot out the opening in the curtain, ran down the wall to where the plumbing goes through the floor and then dripped down to the main floor bathroom directly below. So then we put in two curtains with a bit of overlap. That stopped most of the water, but the curtains had this annoying tendency to suction in around your body while you showered. The steamy hot air rising out of the top drew cold air in around the bottom and caused the curtains to suck in around you like really cold Saran Wrap. And also, some water still leaked out and ran down the wall, which we didn't notice until I was wiping the baseboards one day and a bunch of the paint just peeled right off because it had been soaking for days.

So, lately, we've had three shower curtains forming an impenetrably overlapping wall. This is both heavy enough that it doesn't suction in on you, and thorough enough that no water gets out. The only problem is that it's a total pain when it's time to give the girls a bath. What do you do with the curtains? Well, at first we would flip them up over the hanging metal oval that suspends the curtains. But then their incredibly vast weight started to pull the supports for the hanging metal oval out of the ceiling. So lately we've switched to just sweeping the curtains back and pinning them behind the back edge of the tub against the wall. It works, but it bothers me every time and just contributes to the overall sense that the darn claw foot tub and I will never be friends.

And now the point of this long story. I swept the curtains back, turned on the taps and started letting the water warm up as the girls waited for their bath. I was still thinking about the F-bomb-Spanish-word-for-frog thing when I suddenly noticed that my socks were soaking wet. I looked down and saw a huge puddle of water spreading out from beneath the tub. What the-?!

Yes, the shower spigot was still in the "on" position and at least half of the water was shooting out of the shower head, into the perfect funnel made by the curtains and gushing down the back wall and under the tub! So, as I frantically shut off the water and jammed towels under the tub, I angrily shouted, "This is just perfect! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! DUMB! DUMB! DUMB! ARRRRRRGHHHHH!!"

"DADDY!" my eight-year-old gasped. She sounded both deeply shocked and very hurt. Emotionally.

Unable to imagine what might possibly be causing her such an acute level of distress, I looked up from the puddle, where I was laying on my belly, blotting furiously at the water under the tub before it had a chance to seep down to the floor below. She had her hand to her mouth--like she'd just stepped out of the Victorian era--and had the most disapproving look on her face an eight-year-old could muster.

"You said stupid," she whispered in horror. "Stupid and dumb!"

"Well, honey," I countered, soaked through and blood still boiling at the claw foot, "I'm sort of angry."

"We do not talk like that," she corrected me, "ever. It's not nice."

"Yeah, daddy," the three-year-old added with righteous indignation, "those are very bad words. Say you're sorry."

So, I apologized for my inappropriate language. My eight-year-old turned out to be shocked enough that she later ratted me out to my wife.

"Did you say 'stupid' in front of the kids?" my wife asked me after the little ones were finally asleep. I sheepishly admitted that I had, explained the extenuating circumstances and threw myself on the mercy of the court. "Well, you've probably scarred them for life, but at least this answers the swearing question. If they're still this upset about 'stupid' and 'dumb' then they probably haven't heard anything much worse. F*cking claw foot tub," she sighed.

"Oh I hate that stupid tu--" I started, but she cut me off with a raised hand.

"Don't you talk any trash about that tub. I love that tub," she warned, "Don't say anything you're going to regret later."

F*cking claw foot tub.


Flashman85 said...

Hah! That's one of those stories that is so bizarre that it can't possibly be anything but true.

Jim Hardison said...

That's what I said!