Happiness is a warm bath by S L Emilsdóttir
This is the story of how I became happy. I suppose I could start in a more poetic fashion but, as you will learn, I have long since stopped complicating things in my life.
It all started when I was walking home from work one day and stopped to sit at a bench in the park. Usually, I walk past the park and rush home, but that day my arthritis was so bad I had to sit down.
The park seemed to have caught spring fever. Everywhere I looked children were playing, lovers cooing and squirrels hopping. I was untouched by the joyful atmosphere. My bones were aching and my sixty year old body felt a hundred.
An old lady, who was probably a hundred but moved as if sixty, sat next to me with her beagle hound.
“You don‘t seem too happy,” she said out of the blue.
I didn’t reply and gave her a strained smile. That didn’t seem to deter her much.
“Animals are less complicated than people,” she continued. “Take Buster here, for example.” She pointed to her dog. “He knows exactly what makes him happy: pork chops and naps.”
“He‘s just a dog,” I replied.
“I suspect that if he were a human he‘d still like pork chops and naps.”
I’m not quite sure why, perhaps I was taken aback by the bluntness, but I answered the old lady’s next questions.
“What makes you happy?”
I told her about my little house, my son and daughter and my part-time job, but she dismissed all of it by saying that, judging from my tone and body language, these things seemed to make me content, not happy.
She rephrased the question.
“When was the last time you felt happy?”
I thought long and hard. For some reason I was adamant about giving the old lady an honest answer.
“This will sound silly, but the last time I was happy was when I was soaking in my bathtub with a good book. It seemed to make my arthritis a little better,” I explained.
“That‘s not silly at all,” the old lady said. “Why don‘t you do that now?”
I told her I was currently living in a house with a shower, not a bathtub.
“You should get a bathtub,” the old lady said plainly before she stood up, thanked me for our talk and went on her way with Buster tip-toeing happily behind her.
I couldn’t get our conversation out of my head and, a week later, had a plumber at my house and was asking him questions about installing a bathtub. It turned out that my bathroom was only just too small for a tub. “That’s the end of that,” I thought to myself.
Another week later as I was walking home from work, I had to stop at the park because of my arthritis. Spring was still in the air and I was saddened by other people’s happiness all around me. The only thing that stood in the way of my own happiness was a stupid bathtub. The absurdity of the situation hit me like a brick and it was then that I decided to take matters into my own hands.
The plumber thought I was mad and my children were furious that I had spent so much of their inheritance and, on top of that, had lowered the price of my (and eventually their) real estate; but I took no notice.
So, now I have a bathtub in my living room. It’s in front of the TV so that I can watch my shows. And I have put a small table next to it to hold my books and snacks. I got a cat, too, to remind me of the simple things in life. I named him ‘Hamster’ because of the three presenters of Top Gear; he seems to like Richard Hammond the best. Hamster also enjoys whipped cream and sitting in the sun. I suppose it would be the same if he were human.