Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Garden Tubs

Mickie McGee

I visited a friend of mine the other day and was given a tour of her new quite-large home. Making our way through the den, the kitchen, laundry room, and other standard parts of the house, we ended up beside what seemed to me to be an indoor swimming pool. Wrong.

It was the bathroom and it featured another of those ever-popular garden tubs. You know, the ones that can accommodate you, your spouse, the children, the dog, and a few cousins, aunts, and uncles, all at the same time.

This was one big bathtub. It was smack dab in the middle of the room, raised up on a marble base and faced windows (bigger than the ones in my church) that would allow you to see and be seen by the neighbors, God, and everybody.

Why are garden tubs so popular? I just can’t figure it. Now, a tub in the garden makes more sense. Come to think of it, I knew an old lady in Montgomery, Alabama, who actually had an old bathtub filled with flowers at the end of her driveway. But then, she also ate curling ribbon and talked to dead people.

My point is, I don’t see the need for such a large bathing area. I can’t swim, I don’t care for my neighbors to participate in any way (covertly or overtly) when I bathe, and when I do, I really prefer to do it alone, thank you.

I think of all the tales my grandmother told me about how, when she was a child, everybody in the family, one after the other, bathed in the same tin tub and in the same tub of water, usually once a week.

The adults went first and got the clean water, the older children next, and the poor babies, last. The water was so dirty by that time, when it was tossed out the back door occasionally one of the babies got tossed out with it. (Hence, the saying: Don’t toss the baby out with the bath water!)

I’ll take a regular tub, minus the “extras,” one just big enough to cover the essentials and small enough that I don’t have to tread water in it. And I’ll have clean water, please.

Another feature I can do without is “jets” in my tub. Jets are little holes along the sides of the tub that spew hot bursts of water all over you to “soothe and relax” tense muscles and give you an “invigorating luxurious bath experience.” Jacuzzi, I believe, is the name given to that particular feature.

My friendly masseuse, Paula Fletcher, has one of those in her “regular size” bathtub at her house and after giving me a massage one day, she encouraged me to avail myself of the “relaxing” Jacuzzi.

She instructed me to get in the tub, fill it with water, and then turn on the jets. She left the room. I sat down in the tub, turned on the tap, stretched out my legs, and my pudgy thighs instantly attached themselves to the jet holes like a Hoover.

Suctioned so tight to the sides of the tub, I couldn’t even reach the faucet, I knew I was in big trouble. I was going to drown. I was going to die, naked, stuck like Tar Baby to somebody else’s bathtub in somebody else’s house!

Had Paula not had good ears and strong arms (the result of lifeguard training) I guess the Jaws of Life would have had to extricate me from my porcelain prison. I swore then I’d never get into another Jacuzzi, whirlpool, hot tub, or garden tub as long as I lived.

The entire experience was painful and humiliating. Explaining the pockmarks on my thighs to my sweetie was no picnic either.

Now, I’m sure that garden tubs are probably signs of affluence and give a certain ambiance to the toilet area, but you can have them. I’ll pass.

I’m wondering if maybe the garden tub craze began over the rumor that President William H. Taft, at 360 pounds, once got stuck in the White House bathtub and had another made that would hold four grown men. Who knows? That knowledge could have served me well.

In cases like Taft’s, maybe garden tubs are still the appliance of choice. They are roomy and, Lord knows, in this day of fast foods and carbohydrate mania, maybe a luxurious bath in an oversized tub is a fat man or woman’s heaven on earth.

If you should have one, however, I feel I must advise you to keep it private. Don’t give tours of your home’s personal quarters.

Not long ago my husband was with a group of businessmen touring the opulent home of a Chicago executive whose wife was known to be morbidly obese.

Leading the gentlemen into the well-appointed marble dressing areas and customized bathrooms of the couple, the host pointed out his wife’s sunken gold-encrusted garden tub. Someone snickered in the back of the line, then one of the men cupped his hand over his mouth and whispered to my husband, “There’s only one thing missing here.”

“And what’s that?” asked my husband.

“Where’s the chain hoist to lift that cow in and out of the tub?”

Like I said, I’ll take my baths alone. In a standard tub.

Preferably in the dark.


Mickie McGee is a 57-year-old Southern born and bred female, raised in a small town forty miles north of Augusta, Georgia. She has been married to a John Deere "veteran" for thirty-eight years and has two grown sons. Her childhood was chocked full of exciting, sometimes traumatic, events and thus, her penchant for writing about them. She writes a personal column,"Dear Hearts," in her weekly hometown paper and, at last count, had written some 340 of them. As far as she's concerned, one can only write (that is, with any passion) of what one has experienced, and she has experienced quite a lot in her half a century of living, and she gets a thrill each and every time a reader gushes, "I've been there, done that!"

© Mickie McGee

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012