Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

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‘The dirty little downside of belonging to a big happy family’

I have this very good friend, Jim, who is astonished that anyone could have grown up in a house with only one bathroom. It’s a good thing he doesn’t read my blog, because he would be shocked (shocked!) to hear that not only did we Henrys share a bathroom — we also shared our bathwater.

(Of course, he told me once he shares a shower with his cat, so there’s that.)

Anyway. Back to the Henrys and their sharing of the suds.

Those of you who do read my blog (bless you many times over) know that I am the proud member of a large, happy family. A large happy family who did a lot of sharing.

We shared popcorn in front of the TV, we shared (sort of) the toys in the toy box, we shared seats in the car. (See ‘He’s Breathing My Air’ for how that worked out.) Of course we shared bedrooms. My parents (natch) shared Mom and Dad’s Room, my three brothers shared The Boys’ Room, and I shared The Girls’ Room with my Favorite Only Younger Sister Laura. She and I shared so nicely that she even tried to move on to cohabit my dorm room when I went to college. (It’s a pretty good story, called ‘Larry and the Nose Holes’; you might like to read it after this one.)

We shared chores too. Here I am enthusiastically taking my turn loading our (quite astonishing at the time) dishwasher

And all five of us (plus two parents) shared our one bathroom — and the bathtub in it. When we were little and there were only three of us kids, Mom would line us up in there all in one go: me in the deep end, Scott in the middle, and Roger at the shallow end. Later, when there were more of us, we took turns.

I’m honestly not sure if this was about efficiency — it taking less time to bathe children using the sequential-dunking technique — or whether it was about the fact that our hot water heater couldn’t face the challenge of five tub fill-ups. But I do remember being grateful that I was the oldest and therefore got dibs on the hottest (first) bath.

In my family, bath sharing happened even before I had any siblings. Here I am getting squeaky-clean with my Aunt Susie and Cousin Jimmy

I guess sharing water was a Henry Thing. Here I am sharing a washtub with some Unidentified Cousin. At least we have pants on

Of course, there was a brief blip before my oldest younger brother was born when I got to have the tub all to myself. (See the photo at the top of this post, taken when Mom and I lived at my Gramma Peterson’s while my Dad was away in Korea, for seriously cute proof.)

Being the firstborn, I got everything all to myself for a while — including the kitchen sink

Being a child at the time, I honestly don’t remember being grossed out or embarrassed by having to share my bath time ablutions. But I do remember being humiliated and horrified when my brothers would dig this particular photo out of the big cardboard box in the attic and taunt me with it. Sometimes they’d even threaten to show it to my friends.

The incriminating photo. It didn’t help that my mother had written “Big Girl!” on the back

The end.

New York City. April 2019

Out of the mouths of babes

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‘The Child says (and writes) the darnedest things’

Ouch. It’s Tuesday. Which means I’ve got to get a wiggle on and come up with a story to tell. I was going to regale you with tales from my teen years honing my writing (and phone-answering, address-stamping, and odd-job-doing) skills at the Carlyle Union Banner.

I’ve already regaled you with tales of The Dude’s and The Child’s fabulous summer jobs (see ‘They didn’t do this for fun, you know’), and thought I’d give myself a turn, so to speak.

But I just now waved bye-bye to the last of my Fourth of July Weekend houseful, one of whom (The Child, pictured above during a previous Fourth of July Weekend) inspired a completely different bloggy direction.

She and her bevy of beautiful girlfriends and The Dude and I were sitting around post-beach, sipping a few cocktail hour cocktails. (Oh, in case you are horrified at the thought of the pipsqueak pictured at the top of this post having access to a cocktail, rest assured that she and her friends are indeed old enough to vote both ‘yes’ to a drink and ‘no’ to a Trump.)

Anyway. The Child tells her friends that I make the best gin and tonics. I modestly reply that, shucks, I’ve just had plenty of practice. Then I go on to say, “Speaking of which, once when you were little, like two*, you were rattling a couple of toy blocks around in a plastic cup. When I asked what you were doing, you said ‘I’m playing Gin and Tonic.'” Gosh. Maybe I’ve had a little too much practice. Continue reading