Sunday, April 14, 2024

"Rub-a-Dub-Dub, No Men in the Tub"

By Jerry Zezima

I haven’t taken a bath since the Johnson administration (Lyndon, not Andrew) and it looks like the drought will continue because boys aren’t allowed in our newly renovated bathroom.

That is the edict handed down by our three granddaughters, ages 11, 7 and 4. Even before the renovation began, they taped a sign to the door reading:


No boys allowed!

Yes, I know the word “girls” should be plural, not possessive, but you must understand that these girls are: (a) young and (b) very possessive of the bathroom they use when they visit our house.

They have an ally in their grandmother, my wife, Sue, a girl who doubled down on the order when she told me, the only boy on the premises, that the bathroom was hers.

Sue doesn’t mind sharing it with our granddaughters, who love to splash in the tub, but the rest of the time she wants the place to herself.

I don’t blame her. For the first 11 years of our marriage, we lived in an apartment with only one bathroom. Sue and our two then-young daughters, now the mothers of our granddaughters, complained that I took too much time doing important manly things like trimming my nose hairs and cutting myself to ribbons while shaving.

When we moved into a condo, the situation was somewhat better, but we were still in each other’s way when it came to personal hygiene and answering the call of nature.

For the past quarter of a century, Sue and I have lived in a house with two and a half bathrooms. We have shared the main bathroom, which has a shower but no bathtub. The other full bathroom, which is larger than ours, has a shower and tub and was recently renovated. It was seldom used — except when our granddaughters came over to put on makeup, frost cupcakes, play outside and wash everything off in the bath.

This got me thinking: It would be nice, after all these years, to take a bath, too. I typically take showers that use enough water to drown a walrus. But now that we have a brand-new tub, I have been tempted to pamper myself by soaking in a warm, relaxing bubble bath.

I remember the old TV commercial for Calgon bath and beauty products. A woman was in the tub, strategically covered by bubbles, smiling contentedly and exclaiming, “Calgon, take me away!”

I can envision myself in a new commercial, up to my neck in soothing water and strategically covered by bubbles, which would be appropriate since I am a bubblehead. I would also be playing with my granddaughters’ bath toys, which include a couple of rubber duckies.

“Quack, quack!” I would exclaim, to which I would add: “Calgon, take me away!”

If that ever happened, Sue would call the authorities to have me taken away. Then she would have both full bathrooms to herself.

But after so many years, it’s natural for spouses to want their own space. Even the most loving couples, as we are, need a little privacy.

That is why I am staking a claim to the main bathroom, which was renovated last year. I won’t go so far as to tape a sign to the door reading:


No girls allowed!

But I do think I deserve a sanctuary where I can trim my nose hairs, take marathon showers and bleed profusely while shaving.

The problem is that Sue hasn’t fully moved into her own bathroom yet, so we are still sharing the main bathroom.

That’s all right with me because I am not a selfish guy. So I don’t mind it when I am brushing my teeth and Sue wants to do the same. I simply smile, which causes toothpaste to drip out of my mouth, and move over.

But I am sometimes tempted, when nobody is around, to stand in the shower and exclaim, “Calgon, take me away!”

Copyright 2024 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, April 7, 2024

"Thanks for the Muscle Memory"

By Jerry Zezima

I have always believed that exercise and health food will kill you. This explains why I live in deathly fear of broccoli and don’t do anything more strenuous than getting up twice a night to go to the bathroom.

But now that I have reached the ripe old age of 70, and at the urging of my doctor, who takes my health to heart, I have returned to the gym for the first time in more than six months.

“It’s been 193 days,” team member Kenzie Evans said after I scanned my card at the front desk and told her I hadn’t been there in a while.

“I was in jail for sticking up a gym,” I said.

Kenzie blanched.

“Not really,” I assured her. “I’ve just been lazy. But I recently turned the big 7-Oh and figured it was time to come back.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Kenzie, who’s 19. “You look good — for your age.”

“Looks can be deceiving,” I replied. “But thanks.”

“Don’t feel guilty about being away for so long,” Kenzie said. “There was a guy who hadn’t been back for a thousand days.”

“That’s two years and nine months,” I calculated. “He must have been in pretty bad shape.”

“I think that’s why he returned,” Kenzie said. “We kept his membership open.”

“And he was paying for it,” I said.

“Yeah, it’s crazy,” said Kenzie. “You might as well burn your money.”

“But it’s better to burn calories, right?” I said.

“Exactly,” said Kenzie’s boyfriend, Joe Dramis, who also works at the desk.

“Is it true,” I asked Joe, who’s 20, “that muscles have memory?”

“Yes,” he answered.

“It’s amazing,” I said. “I can’t remember what I had for lunch. My muscles have a better memory than my brain.”

“You can go on a long streak of no workouts, then go back to exercising every day,” Joe said. “Your muscles remember what your body went through.”

“My body went through the wringer,” I remembered. “It’s a good thing the wringer isn’t part of the exercise equipment.”

“All our equipment is on the floor,” said Joe.

“I don’t want to end up on the floor myself,” I remarked.

“You won’t,” promised Billy Beimann, another employee. “You just have to pick an exercise routine and start by going slow.”

Billy, 24, said he used to weigh 400 pounds.

“I’m down to 250,” he added. “I like to think most of it is muscle. But I started coming to the gym a year and a half ago. I lost a lot of weight and now I feel great.”

“Hey, that rhymes!” I exclaimed.

When he asked what my goal was in coming to the gym, I said, “I don’t want to leave in the back of an ambulance.”

“That’s a good plan,” he said.

“I want to do cardio exercises,” I told Billy.

“The stationary bike is good for that,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be going anywhere,” I noted.

“True,” Billy said. “But you won’t be in traffic, either.”

He added that weightlifting also is good for the heart.

“So is red wine,” I said.

“I had a rotator cuff problem and weight exercises really helped,” he said.

“Didn’t rotator cuffs used to be in cars?” I wondered.

Billy took me over to the weight area and asked, “Do you want to start with barbells or dumbbells?”

“I’m a dumbbell,” I said. “So let’s do barbells.”

I lifted the lightest one, 20 pounds, and got limbered up. Then I spent a few minutes on a bike. I barely broke a sweat.

“I started slowly,” I told Billy, Joe and Kenzie as I was leaving.

“Bye,” said Billy.

“We’ll see you soon,” Joe said.

“And not in 193 days,” Kenzie added.

“I’ll be back,” I said in my worst Arnold Schwarzenegger voice. “My muscles just remembered they could use a rest.”

Copyright 2024 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, March 31, 2024

"House Calls"

By Jerry Zezima

My wife and I are in better shape than our house. That’s saying something — I don’t know what, but it probably can’t be repeated in polite company — because Sue and I are 70 and our house is 50.

Despite the age difference, our joints hurt less than our joint.

We have come to realize, after a quarter of a century in our humble and hobbling abode, that home is where the heartburn is.

That’s why we are fortunate to have a doctor who makes house calls. He has to because he’s also our contractor.

Anthony Amini, chief of surgery at Performance Contracting and Management, has operated on and cared for our creaky Colonial so often and so well that he should have a residency at Home Depot.

The latest medical emergency involved the plumbing (the house’s, not mine). Specifically, a radiator was about to blow a gasket. On finding this out, I almost blew one myself.

The discovery was made while a toilet was being installed in an upstairs bathroom. Coincidentally, Sue noticed water coming through the family room ceiling downstairs.

One of Anthony’s surgical assistants, an excellent young plumber named Nick Havens, cut a hole in the ceiling so he could replace a leaky pipe. Then he discovered that a larger adjacent pipe was corroded. Transplant surgery was performed and was deemed a success.

The bathroom radiator was replaced, but further examination revealed that all of the radiators in the house had the same terminal condition and had to be replaced, too.

“If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” Sue said.

She was right, of course, because over the past few years, we have needed a new roof, new siding, new gutters and new flooring, as well as a new furnace and a new water heater. Also, repairs had to be made on a crack in the foundation. Last year, we had to renovate our bathroom. And recently, we had to renovate the other upstairs bathroom, where the leaks were coming from.

All of these projects were essential. If we ignored them, the house would have flooded, fallen down or burned to the ground.

So it’s nice to know that I am aging better than the old homestead.

That was confirmed by my physician, Dr. Sanjay Sangwan, who told me on my recent office visit that I am in remarkably good shape. He didn’t add, “for a geezer,” because he is too nice to say so, but I appreciated his diagnosis.

“Your heart is very strong,” Dr. Sangwan said.

“Do I have brainwave activity?” I asked.

“It appears you do,” he answered.

“How about a pulse?” I wanted to know.

“You have that, too,” the doctor replied. “Your vital signs are good, but your blood pressure is a little high.”

I told him about the house.

“That could explain it,” he said. “But just to be safe, I am going to give you a prescription.”

Sue, who had a heart attack a couple of years ago that can’t be directly attributed to home improvement projects, is also in good shape. But she recently twisted her knee while opening the blinds in the family room. They were blocked by furniture that had to be moved so the pipes could be replaced in the ceiling.

“This house is trying to kill us,” I told her after she put a bandage and some ice on her knee.

Anthony, who has become like a member of the family and calls us Auntie Sue and Mr. Uncle Jerry, said he wouldn’t let that happen.

“The house is beautiful, but it’s old,” he said. “After a while, things start to go.”

“You’ve done everything but the kitchen sink,” I noted.

“And now we need a new one,” added Sue.

“I hope it’s the last thing we have to do,” I said. “It would help to lower my blood pressure.”

Copyright 2024 by Jerry Zezima