Bath tub fantasies and rusty pipe dreams.
By Elizabeth Thompson
My 10 year old leaned heavily against the bathroom door and said, “Wow, it’s like we’re living a hundred years ago! Don’t worry; it’s not like forever…if Dad can fix the dishwasher. Look on the bright side Mom; now you know how Hattie* felt while crossing the lonesome prairie!”
I smiled at my daughter’s optimism, but shook my head and said, “But, I don’t think Hattie had to deal with plates covered in dried macaroni and cheese or stained with day old spaghetti sauce!”
My 3-year-old daughter peeked around her sister’s knees, stared at me with wide eyes and asked in a high pitched voice that bounced off the tiled walls and landed somewhere right in the nerve just above my left cheek, “What doonin’?”
Not bothering to look up this time, I answered her, “Mommy’s washing the dishes in the tub.”
She rubbed an eye and asked, “Why?”
“Because, the sink is broken.”
She picked at her nose and asked, “But, why?”
“Because, the faucet doesn’t work.”
She kneeled next to me and asked, “How come?”
I squeezed the sponge harder and answered, “Actually, I figured I’d just give the sink a break and give the dishes a bath today.”
“Oh! Can I take a bath, too?”
I declined but quickly reassured her that the tub would be empty and ready for her, later.
My 6-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter stumbled upon the scene, began to laugh and thought I looked “...totally weird!”
I continued with scrubbing and rinsing and was more than a little annoyed with my current domestic position. Through clenched teeth, I began to rant; “Could anything else possibly break in this house? Piece of crap...can’t stand this anymore...leaks like a sieve...dust is probably holding the flipping thing together...”
Just once, I wanted to be able to turn something on and not have it spit, moan or groan in contempt. I wanted a house big enough to hold my family and not have to squeeze my three daughters in one room or continue living in one that leaves my son without a bedroom door. I wanted a house that would pay for itself, so that my husband could devote more time to his family and spend less time dealing with ungrateful customers and insensitive superiors. But most of all I wanted a place with a room, all to myself, where I could sit, write and basically, think.
At this point in time, I lived in less than pristine conditions, where my desk was the kitchen table, the laundry room was also the playroom and I bathed my children in the midst of rust spots and in conjunction with the tableware.
Purely as a survival instinct – honed by years of domestic drudgery – my mind began to wander…
Our Heroine bends at the bank’s muddy edge. Lifting her skirts, and being careful not to slip in, she scoops up a handful of crystalline river water and savors the coolness of it on her lips. Years of indulging in her passion for books have left her eyes weak. Her small-framed eye glasses slip down her petite and perfectly shaped nose. Looking far from bookish, in fact, it was often said around many homesteads that our Heroine is quite attractive; she has managed to capture more than one roving eye in town. This didn’t go over very well with the womenfolk, who often spoke in hushed tones whenever our Heroine would pass, but that sort of talk affected her little. She wasn’t looking to take their men; in fact, she wasn’t looking for a man at all. She was more interested in traveling the world, going out and meeting new and exciting people, and getting as far away from small town drudgery as her spirit would take her. Just as the wind blew the raven colored hair off of her sun-kissed face, she saw him. There were no immediate words that would have adequately described the way he looked. Well, maybe one. He looked – beautiful. His arms were a testament to his strength; his warm dark eyes and full lips implied passion and a gentle nature. She licked the remaining drips of river water from her lips and held her hands over her squinting eyes. He was looking towards her…no; he was looking straight at her. As he came close, she held her breath and attempted to slow the pace of her racing heart. A little unnerved, she thrust out her hand and he stopped just beyond her reach and said, “Let me take you away from all this; let me pamper you; let me fulfill your every desire, you’re every wish...”
“Hey, Hon! Could you come here a minute?”
I shook my head as I heard my husband’s voice reverberate from somewhere deep within the damp crawl space and drift through the dusty ducts.
“I need you to hold the pipe still long enough for me to connect the joint from under the house. Oh, I’ll be using a compound that stinks to high heaven. Brace yourself. Hope this does it...then you’ll get your kitchen sink and dish washer back. If not, we’re sunk.”
“Our Heroine shields her face from the fierceness that she’s come to expect from living in such rough terrain. No longer wanting to exist in the wilderness, she decides that it was indeed him! Her hero had arrived! She ran towards him, and as he reached out she saw that he came bearing pipe lubricant, and she fell into his arms!”
(*Note: Hattie is the heroine of my 11 year old daughter’s favorite book, “Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie, The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell 1847” of the Dear America series.)
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