A Tale from the Tub

My friend Jacquie eats breakfast in her bathtub every morning. Now to some people that may seem a bit weird, but different strokes for different folks, I say. Anyway, she told me that one day she had just gotten all settled in her sudsy water when she accidentally knocked her cereal bowl and its contents right into the tub with her. “I just sat there looking at those blueberries, banana slices and fruit loops floating in the bubbles,” she said, “and I laughed!”

So, you see, people who are inclined to have breakfast in their bathtubs don’t get rattled easily. That’s just one of the many traits that make offbeat people like Jacquie such fun to be around.

I have another friend, Sue, who, although a grown person, still has this thing about stickers — you know, the kind that fascinate little kids. When you get a letter or gift from her, you can be sure the thing is covered with stickers. She has so many of them that they are beginning to take over her entire house. When her physician husband confronted her one day about the encroaching stickers, she reminded him that she knew plenty of doctors’ wives who spent their money on things that cost a whole lot more than stickers do. So much for that conversation.

Then there was Augusta, the artist friend of mine who decided to do battle with the Grim Reaper. In her 80s and pronounced terminal by the medical world, the end of her talented and productive life seemed precariously near. Hospice was called to her old New Hampshire farmhouse to provide care for her. Well, they cared and they cared and they cared, but this feisty patient showed no signs of going anywhere.

One day during a visit I asked Augusta what she felt was responsible for her health reprieve. “That’s simple,” she snapped. “I owe a lot on this old place and I’m not going anywhere until I win the lottery and get it paid up.” She was convinced that it was in the cards for her to be a big winner. She wouldn’t dream of missing a week of purchasing her tickets.

This went on for a year and a half or more. Finally one day she called and told me to come out to her studio and select any of her paintings I wanted; her hopes of winning the lottery were dwindling. It wasn’t long after that day that her body could wait no longer — lottery or no lottery. Today, two beautiful floral paintings hang in my house as reminders of a woman not only with enormous talent, but who thought outside the box for as long as she could; a spunky woman who may not have realized her dream, but was determined to die trying.

The way I see it, people who shun the predictable and do things a little differently than we would — things that some people might even call downright kooky — can sometimes offer us a welcome departure from our own somewhat humdrum routines.

I saw a bumper sticker the other day, which pretty much sums this all up. It read, “Well-behaved women rarely go down in history.” How true.

And my friend who eats breakfast in her bathtub? Well, you’ve got to admit that it’s not everyone who can satisfy three daily food group requirements and pamper her body at the same time. NH

The above is from Joann Snow Duncanson and Fred Samuels’ new book, “Breakfast in the Bathtub.” an upbeat mix of poems, stories and essays published by Peter E. Randall Publisher, Portsmouth.