Thursday, May 10, 2012


suddenly i needed a clean bath tub.  i cannot pick the exact motivation behind this need, but there were several contributing factors:
1. it was disgusting.
2. my back was in a constant pain spasm.
3. pending visit from my favorite aunt.
4. it was disgusting.

more about the bath tub.  it is the original tub when the house was built in the fifties.  thankfully it is not pink, yellow or blue.  it is white.  or it was white.  probably.  any glossy sheen it once had has been worn away like freckles from a summer vacation- slowly disappearing over time.  without that protection glimmer the stains of the day sink right into the pores.  where they stay for a very, very long time.

i wasn't always so neglectful of my tub.  probably there was a phase in my life when i regularly scoured porcelin.  i vaguely remember loving a tub- the one in the top floor of a triplex where the window was eye level as you soaked and birds often gathered in the birdplace out on the roof.  a person could soak and witness cedar wax wings flicking diamonds of water on their creamy gray plumes.  most likely that bath tub was regularly cleaned.

no tub in this house gets that kind of lve.  this house always housing me as a mother, i have found washing the tub to be continually on the downward spiral on my to-do list.  if i ever actually wrote one of those. i place dirty children in there and they come out cleaner.  i keep  my eyes closed when i take a bath, fan on to mask any whining, essential oils to paint prettier any odors and i shower immediately afterwards.

problem?  i don't have a problem.

but then there's sunday morning and suddenly motivation hits me with a tinge of shame, perhaps, and i decide i will make my tub into something different than what it is.  something clean and white and glimmering.  so i gather supplies from under the bathroom sink.  well, i sort stuff first to get to the bon ami powder and green scrubby and then go in search of gloves.  this is when i spy the bottle of "soft scrub with bleach" in the kitchen.  i did not buy this.  i would not buy this for so many reasons and yet here it sits.  i decide it's  my mother.  in her ever-good-intending mode she has brought this contraband into my world.  perhaps in a moment of do-gooding she has forgotten that i am Green.  i work at a co-op.  i shop at thrift stores.  i feed my children tahini dressing on organic greens.  surely she has forgotten that i don't want to use toxin cleaners that taint the ground water and kill fishes.  she has forgotten that chlorine produces the most lethal of all byproducts: dioxins, mega mutant killers.  she has forgotten this all in the blissful moment of believeing soft scrub with bleach will make my tub scrubbing easier.

and i forget all this too and grab the bottle.

sometimes my brain splits and i can watch me do stuff while the other part of my brain says "holy hell- what are you doing?!"  but then the third part of my brain replies "shhhh- let's just see what she does.  it's kinda boring around here anyway."  maybe if i had cable this wouldn't happen...

there's me in flip flops with yellow rubber gloves in the bathroom ready to transform the tub into the shangrala of sudsing.  i squirt with abandon.  even as the fumes hit me and my eyes squint, i kneel and begin to furiously work the green rectangle back and forth along the black foot prints and dark smudges.  and even as part of me still screams "stop!" this other part of me is sayin "wow, this stuff really does clean stuff up quick."

i'm in awe of how fast grey turns white, at the same time being offended that i want it to be transformed just so.  i've made my own scouring powder, i've boiled water, i've bruised my knees and sweated my brow in the process of cleaning the tub.  if one doesn't mind the burning nostril feeling, this bleach stuff isn't so bad.

i open the window, turn on the fan and yell into the house "don't come into the chlorine cloud!"

with the sides nearest me, i start to work on the far sides, and then decide to actually step into the tub to get better leverage.  all three parts of my  brain agree that standing in the frothy foam is a bad idea so i leave my flip flops on.  when i bend down to work at the ring of scuzz i almost pass out from the fumes.  while most sane people would leave at this point, i am far too into the fantasy of white bath to stop now.  besides- a half clean bath tub is worse than a completely dirty one.  it's the contrast that gets you.

i decide to use my ample leg muscles.  the green scrubby is about the same length of my foot, so i step onto it and work it back and forth and back and forth in small, fast movements.  i hold onto the wall for support.  i scream "don't let him in here!" frantically as the toddler tries to investigate.  i switch feet.  and then switch again.

most of the tub is gleaming.  true, there still is no shine and no doubt won't be until i fork over $300 to have more toxins repainted on the tub.  but the tub is far more inviting.  except for the large yellow stain where it looks like a dead body was left to rot.  the stain that is never removed no matter how long i soak things in it or scrub at it.  the stain that only once showed any signs of dimming after a $18 bottle of white cranberry cleanser was spilt on it, leaving a clean streak like a river through it.  and yes, that worried me.  and no, i never bought another bottle of that.