We’ve all seen the idyll: the frazzled mom with the made-for-TV body who escapes from her hectic everyday life into the all-comforting embrace of a huge Jacuzzi tub full of bubbles, accompanied by her relaxation weapons, a glass of wine and a good book.  So peaceful. So warm. So clean. I’ve always been skeptical about the idyll because, after all, baths are wet and books are made of paper. But I finally got desperate enough to try it.

It was not my Energizer Bunny children who know only one way to interact with each other – by fighting – who occasioned the experiment. No, it was two loudmouth screaming heads, one of whom will soon be the leader of the free world, who drove me into retreat. The Televised Presidential Debate: a form of torture unknown to the Spanish Inquisition only because they had not yet invented either presidents or television. In some far-off civilization, they will play these atrocities on endless loops in haunted houses on Halloween. Especially this one. But I couldn’t just turn off the TV because my husband and my parents, who are still living with me after the flood, all decided to willingly subject themselves to two hours of verbal abuse.

I don’t claim to understand people.

The book + bathtub option was very much a last resort. It was only because of the bathroom heater – blessed white noise! – that I succumbed to the temptation. You’ve heard of fighting fire with fire? I fought hot air with hot air.

I didn’t have any bubble bath on hand, nor the made-for-TV body, but otherwise, I did things right.  I have the obnoxiously large Jacuzzi tub (which, by the way, is a monster to clean.)  I opened a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio and dug up an issue of Image Journal that’s been sitting on my to-read pile.

As it turns out, baths are wet.  And books are made of paper.


Karen Ullo is the author of Jennifer the Damned.  To learn more, go to