Suppose, for a moment, that you have recently been to see the orthopedist, who, though thoroughly puzzled about what *was* wrong, declared very cheerfully that there your hip joint was definitely Not Guilty*.   And this is exactly the news that made your physical therapist tremble with excitement, for now she can begin Doing Things. 

    Physical therapists, of course, are medical professionals who receive extensive training, often at the graduate level, who cannot be licensed until they compete a practicum demonstrating the ability to say persuasively, and with a straight face, "Aching is good."  And then, of course, proceeding to Do Things that induce said aching.

    In which case, you might come home, put the children outside and the baby down for a nap, and wish you were my older sister.  Not because this sister is married to a physical therapist — that fact is purely coincidence, and only very distantly related to the handy tip coming ahead.  But because she owns the best bathtub in the world.

    If you read publications such Fine Homebuilding or Better Homes and Gardens, you might be under the mistaken impression that the best-ness of a bathtub has to do with the materials it is made of, or the attractiveness of the finish, or possibly even it’s easiness-to-clean.  Now there is something to be said for easy cleaning, but that is not the measure of best-ness.  No, no: bathtub best-ness is all about comfort.

    My sister’s bathtub is the builder’s standard-issue contractor-grade tub, probably plastic, put in by two’s (one on the hall, one in the master bedroom) in all the tract homes in her unremarkable, affordable neighborhood.  The kind of neighborhood that does not have a community center or a pool, nor even went through much trouble to disguise the fact that the hundreds of homes gathered elbow-to-elbow are, every one of them, one of exactly four possible models.  In the triumph of triumphs in the world of affordable housing, these thousand or so identical tubs are, every one of them, supremely comfortable.  Exactly what a person needs, when that person has lately been subject to a physical therapist permitted to Do Things.

    Enough to make me want to move to Las Vegas and offer to babysit my sister’s teenagers, just to get to use her tub.  But no dice.  And hence, the life jackets.  Because I do have a tub, for which I am grateful, but it is not a Comfortable Tub.    And you cannot fix an uncomfortable tub the way you fix an uncomfortable sofa, by gathering up an array of throw-pillows and using them to reconfigure the reclining surface.  Furthermore, I recoiled in horror at the prospect of purchasing some dubious inflatable "bath pillow", having had encounters with such items earlier in life.

    But life jackets — a small army of children’s lifejackets, stored in a rubbermaid tub in the garage,  waiting for warmer weather, or some desperate soul to put them to use in a non-coast-guard-approved fashion — these, I discovered, can do wonders for a tub.  They are cushion-y.  They can be folded around in all different directions, and piled on top of each other.  They are meant to get wet, and they dry easily afterwards.  The great equalizers, in a world of bathtub-inequality.   In all, a lovely discovery.


    And a life-jacket related story from the small-child archives:  Several years ago we went hiking, and  the SuperHusband was ferrying LP, then aged three, across a fast-moving stream.  He made a great leap and landed on the other side, firmly on patch of ground that was, as it happened, a yellow-jacket’s nest.  No preschoolers were harmed in this adventure, but the SuperHusband did get several of the insects up his shorts, with the expected result. 

    Made for  much unpleasantness for the gallant SuperHusband, but very good story-telling when we got back to the campground.  As LP told it:  "We went hiking, and Daddy got attacked by the Life-jackets."


    Mystery Ailment Update:  I am again numbered among the People Who Walk Around.  Not to be confused with the People Who Rotate Their Right Leg, let us not get carried away.  But walking forward in a straight line, no problem.   Indeed, at the moment the mystery ailment seems to be a case of life imitating a teenager’s fantasy-injury:  I can go out for a brisk walk in the lovely fall weather, but cannot clean the kitchen.   (Apparently I do something very bad when I do housework.  Getting a finger on the precise movement that causes the trouble is not all that easy.  Since I’m always doing whatever-it-is when  my concentration is on other activities, such as doing housework.)

     Sneaked out front after the baby’s nap this afternoon, failing to tell the older children that the baby was up and their backyard-banishment was over, and pushed a very happy aspiring-toddler around the driveway in her little plastic car.  (This one – ours, of course, being the model that had the stickers pulled off shortly after we brought it home from the church bazaar, three children ago.)  Despite accusations that this kind of activity fosters inordinate car-love in the infant, guaranteed to doom our society to another generation of uncontrolled suburban sprawl, we had a lovely time. 


* What about the Wayward Femur, curious readers want to know?  At this time, evidence is scanty.  Is it a Criminal Mastermind?  Willing Accomplice?  Unwitting Victim?  Innocent Bystander?  Stay tuned for the next installment . . .