Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bird Baths

The only bad thing about my annual “girl” trip to Palm Springs is that I have to come home. Not that I don’t love my family, but the times I spend with them are not nearly so relaxed as the five days I just spent with my best girlfriends. (Actually, one of those days was spent in an airport, but given that all I had to do was read Middlesex, which is thus far a really incredible book, it still felt like a vacation.) The cost of time away is piles of dirty clothes, a dirtier-than-usual house, and moldy food in the fridge. I can’t describe the feeling any better than one of my fellow travelers did in an e-mail last night.

So I was just comparing:

a random day in Palm Springs (breakfast cooked by someone other than me / hiking / laughing / lunch cooked by someone other than me / laughing / spa treatments / sunshine / laughing / shopping/ chocolate / hot tubbing / crisp white wine followed by a pinot noir/ laughing / dinner cooked by someone other than me)
my first day back home (kitchen counter covered with week's worth of mail / scheduling appliance service call / refilling teenagers' acne prescriptions / threatening letter from internist for unpaid bill / SOS call from director of development at local charity whose board I serve on / false alarm from malfunctioning security system / boatloads of unreturned phone calls and e-mails / Whole Foods and Publix / eye exam for daughter No. 1 / arrival of port-a-potty-emptying tanker truck/ prospective parent interviews at school).

Do we have an exact date yet for next year?

Not that my trip was totally problem-free. For reasons I don’t fully understand, I have an annoying tendency to fall down when I’m with these women. The first night we were in Paris, for example, I didn’t see three steps, at the bottom of which I discovered that my right ankle no longer worked. (I’m here to tell you – Paris is lovely even from the window of a tour bus.) I was with these women when I landed on my butt on a foggy beach in Brittany; when I walked straight into a screen door last week; and last Friday, when I fell on my face while hiking down an alarmingly steep mountain. I’m not a particularly clumsy person, and these tumbles all occur long before cocktail hour. After my Friday fall, one friend kindly suggested that perhaps I trip on my trips because I’m looking at the friends behind me, not the road in front of me. I suspect she’s on to something. Note to self: next year, bring up the rear.

But my mountain tumble led to one of the highlights of my vacation. While the rest of my friends went on a desert tour with a Native American guide, I settled my strained shoulder, bruised knees, and scraped palms nto the world’s best bathtub for some California dreamin’.

This was no ordinary bathtub. It’s wide and deep with arm rests, a view of the mountains, and, at the foot end, there’s … are you sitting down … A FIREPLACE!

This tub, and the condo in which it lives, belongs to my friend Jane. Jane owns this vacation haven, as well as a huge house back home, because she works 23 hours a day (22 on weekends). Two years ago, when Jane led us on a tour of her place during construction, she took pains to point out her special tub, which is right off her bedroom. Last year, when I mentioned the bathtub, Jane famously said, “What bathtub?” Which just goes to show that for most of us, the way to get a bathtub with a fireplace is to work so hard you forget you have a bathtub with a fireplace.

As I lollygagged in hot water out in California, the Bird boys were taking baths of a different kind.

The day before I was scheduled to leave for Palm Springs, Billy woke up with The Largest Pimple in the History of the World on the end of his nose. It was so terrible, and so painful, that I took him to the dermatologist to see if she could shoot something into it to make him more comfortable and allow us to avoid homeschooling.

The dermatologist took one look at Billy’s nose, and suddenly my travel plans changed. “That’s staph,” she said, writing out a prescription for a month of antibiotics and casually mentioning that if the “pimple” didn’t start clearing up real fast, she was putting Billy in the hospital for IV antibiotics.

I postponed my trip; Billy took the medicine; his nose got a little better. I took off, leaving behind detailed typed instructions for Bob about staph management.

The next night, Ben woke Bob up to show him the rapidly expanding “rug burn” on his elbow. My husband may not have natural gifts in the healing arts – he is apparently unable to read dosing instructions, for example – but he can follow directions to a T. The next morning he called the doctor, and within hours Ben became the second Bird in 96 hours to be diagnosed with staph.

Again, the doctor prescribed antibiotics. But with staph clearly making plans to establish permanent residency in our home, she offered an additional prescription for Bob, Billy, and Ben: bleach baths.

For those of you yet to be diagnosed with the staph that is eating the world, a bleach bath is a tub filled with water and a quarter-cup of Clorox. (This is one situation where you probably don’t want to pinch pennies.) You settle in up to your neck, soak for five minutes, and emerge (at least temporarily) staph-free. Each family member only has to do this until all cases of staph in the household are completely cured, which quite possibly means it will be a very pallid summer around here.

The Bird boys were incredibly busy while I was gone, and I’m not sure just how many bleach baths they took. But that’s about to change.

Because I’d flown the coop and spent five days away from Staph City, I had figured I was safe. So it was a surprise last night when I discovered a pimple in an area not typically associated with Clearasil.

Just to be safe, I dropped in for a visit with the dermatologist today. (She’s probably already planning her new Bird-subsidized bathtub/fireplace combination.) She looked my bump over and declared it innocuous. “But just to be safe,” she said, “all four of you REALLY need to be taking bleach baths.”

So that’s where I’m headed. The Bird bathtub is rimmed with mildew and mid-70s tile. It has no armrests or fireplace, and the only view it offers is of the toilet. But these bleach baths may still carry me away.

Because for once in my life, I’m going to have a really clean tub.

1 comment:

All Adither said...

Gosh, that sounds good.

Here's a virtual cookie for you. :)