Paper Mache Walrus

Sea lions in Valdivia. Chile

Sometimes it is difficult to relax without getting into hot water – er, strike that hot water reference, (for reasons which will become evident to you pon further reading), what I meant was that some days a person cannot even relax without problems. I suppose that it is like many things if you are overtired when you try to do something – it likely won’t work out well. But shouldn’t a person at very least be able to relax without problems when he is overtired?

Maybe I should explain. This is a hectic time of year for me and working late is an almost every evening occurrence. About the middle of last week, I was just leaving the office around ten o’clock. It had already been a long day that started early and I was just now heading for home after a grueling day. When I got home I was pretty tired, but I wanted to read the paper as I usually do. A warm bath and a small snifter of my best cognac also sounded pretty good for me. Since there wasn’t much left of the night – I figured the best plan was to do all three at once.

I figured this to be a real stroke of genius, so I went to the bathroom and started to draw myself a nice, hot bath while I gathered up the newspaper and poured myself a couple of ounces of great cognac. (The good stuff – a gift from a friend.) What a relaxing and great idea. I was going to slide into that tub of nice, hot, soothing water and with my snifter of cognac and my paper in my hand. It was everything I thought it would be. I could just feel the stress leaving my body as the warm water surrounded me and I felt the warmth of the cognac make its way into my belly. I spread open the paper and began to read the day’s news.

I don’t remember falling asleep, or even getting that drowsy. The first sensation I remember was that of being cold. I checked my watch, which was within easy grasp on the top of the toilet tank. It read nearly two o’clock – the wee hours of the morning. But the fact that it was late and I was sitting in cold water – having fallen asleep almost three hours ago was not the worst part. The worst part was that this cold water I was sitting in was an ugly, murky, grayish-black. The newspaper that I had started to read just a few hours ago was a mushy mass of pulp. The newsprint ink had leached off the paper and made my cold bathwater look like some awful swamp. I almost expected gators to rise to the top and start snapping at me.

This was not the worst of it. The entire lower half of my body was stained an ugly gray from sitting in this tub of diluted ink. It would take some heavy-duty scrubbing to get off what made me look an ugly two-tone. I figured I could likely get the tub clean again with the use of caustic chemicals, but I was darn glad it was not shorts season!

That still was not the worst of it! In addition to the brackish looking water I was sitting in at two in the !#*%$@#! morning, was that the paper had basically turned into a mushy consistency,   and was plastered all across my chest and belly. I looked like a walrus that had just washed up on shore – a paper mache walrus! It was by far the worst mess this side of an Irish wedding with an open bar. When I tried pulling the stuff off of me, hoping it would peel off in the nice sheets that I had taken into the tub with me, I was severely disappointed. It was the consistency of oatmeal. I could not peel it off or flush it without clogging the sewer and I could not leave it in the tub for the same reason. I also could not wipe it off with a towel.

I suppose if this had been July, I could have gone outside and hosed myself off and hoped all the neighbors were heavy sleepers. However, this night, it was about 110 degrees from being July. I ended up in the kitchen standing over a wastebasket scraping this awful stuff off of me and then going back to get the leftover clumps out of the swamp water with some sort of a kitchen strainer that will likely never touch food again.

By three o’clock or so, the tub was reasonably cleaned. Clean enough at least to allow me back in to try to shower the newsprint off my body with some cleaner solvent from under the sink and some of that gritty hand soap. When I got out I felt like I had been sandblasted and was ready for painting. Another half-hour after that and I even had the tub looking a bit less like a hog waller. As for a good night’s sleep . . . . well, who the heck sleeps well during income tax season anyway?

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