I do love a bath. I think it’s the Britishness in me, that I enjoy floating round up to my chin in warm water and rose-scented bubbles. I love the indulgence of it all, the fact that I can’t do anything of usefulness or accomplishment, just lie there drinking wine and reading trashy novels and poking my toe into the spout of the tap.
In the last few years the pleasure has gone out of baths a little bit. My kids tend to use up all the hot water, so my vision of a long uninterrupted soak while reading a few chapters generally ends up with me sitting in four inches of tepid recycled water surrounded by bath toys, bitching about the experience on Facebook.
Still, I was a little bit excited when the rental that we moved into last year had a really BIG bath. I’m tall, so the thought of being able to have my legs straight and still have everything but my nose submerged was quite novel. This bath, however, had really strange, bright blue staining on it.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” said the agent, airily. “Probably a tie-dye job gone wrong. It’ll come off with some Gumption.”
Only it didn’t. It didn’t come off with Gumption, or turpentine, or any of the increasingly expensive cleaners I threw at it. It didn’t come off with steel wool or prayer or ritualistic sacrifice. It seemed that the only thing that would shift the blue stains was my children when they sat on it during bathtime. Then all the bathwater turned pale blue.
“I wonder what it is?” I remarked nervously as I watched them bobbing about in the murk. I really didn’t like the thought of them absorbing mystery blue through their skins. I’m funny like that. Eventually it became easier to shower them – to shower all of us – and just kind of forget we had a bath at all unless we needed somewhere to pile the towels after the beach. It lay untouched for six months.
Then my landlord took pity on me and announced that he was going to get the bath resurfaced. No more blue! I skipped straight out and bought a new novel and half a dozen scented candles.
But when I turned the bath taps on to give it a rinse before the workmen arrived, for the first five seconds the water ran out blue. Not a touch of blue. Not a hint of blue. Royal blue.
Staining mystery solved. Well, at least I knew that it was coming out of the bloody taps. Though why it would be, I had no idea. Time to call in the experts.
The plumber called me the next morning. Straight away, I knew there would be a problem.
“I’ve been contacted… ahem…” he paused to make slight snorting, face-straightening sound, “about a report that the water is coming from the taps in BLUE.”
Wearily, I agreed that was the issue.
“Well, you see, love, that’s just not possible.”
Pointlessly, because I could tell that he’d already filed the job under ‘hysterical woman with plumbing Munchausen’s’, I explained about the staining and the fact that water which had been sitting in the taps for several weeks was coming out looking like the aftermath of a Smurf genocide.
I might as well have talked to the stains. He’d adopted that soothing ‘humour the lunatic’ tone that tradesmen use around me sometimes.
“You see, love,” he gently explained, “the water in the SEA is blue because it reflects the SKY. Water from TAPS isn’t blue…”
I found myself doing an impotent dance of rage and frustration. Breath, Anna, breath. You have toilet trained two children and you have taught your mother how to use Hotmail and you are PATIENT. You can do this.
“Ok, here’s the thing. The water is coming out blue. The bath is blue. Trust me, I have better things to do than talk about fantasy problems to plumbers.”
“Mmmmmm. Yes. Ok, I’ll tell you what. I’ll have a think about it over the weekend and if I can think of anything that might explain what you’ve…. seen… I’ll give you a call.”
He hung up, but not before I’d heard the burst of laughter from his colleagues in the background.
The next day, the real estate agent phoned, all chipper. “I’m told the problem has been fixed!”
There was a long pause. I thought about the wisdom of picking your battles. I thought about the possibility of actually getting to the source of the problem without pulling apart the entire bathroom. And most of all I thought about the fact that if I insisted, I would have to put up with a patronising tradie and his plumber’s crack invading my space for a REALLY long time.
Then I made a non-committal noise. After all, the bath doesn’t look too bad with beach towels in it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off for a shower.