Saturday, 5 January 2008

pith and vinegar

When is enough not enough? Or, more accurately, when is too much just right? My old baba (I was brought up as a typical Canadian, meaning that there was another culture hovering in the background: in my case, Macedonian) used to say in cooking that if one egg is good, two eggs are better. Now this approach to life can get you in trouble (substitute wife or mortgage or even pack of cigarettes per day for egg and you see what I mean), but it speaks to a generosity of spirit that I try to live up to. Don't be stingy, don't be mean. Her husband (my old dedo) used to say that you should always shovel some of your neighbour's walk while you're doing yours.
Do all grandparents do that? Sit around and spew pithy advice? Mine did.
A variant on the a-bit-more-is-enough theme recently manifested itself in the tub. When I am merely dirty I take showers, but when I am cold and dirty I like a hot bath. The other day, when the wind was in the north, it was freezing in my flat. Fast forward to me easing myself slowly southwards into the bathtub, one or two bits at a time, my face charmingly contorted as I realized that the water was a shade too hot. Which meant that it was in fact perfect. When I finally worked myself down so that all of me -- well, all of me below the equator -- was immersed, I gave a painful and contented sigh. No, I am not a masochist. My sigh came from experience. The long even warm glow of a perfect bath -- the bath that highlights your evening -- begins with water that is slightly too hot. It may take an extra minute to get used to, but you can enjoy it for a lot longer. A bath you can sit right down in is not going to last very long. Give it thirty seconds and you'll start to feel chilly. You'll try to add some hot water, but you'll never get the temperature exactly the way you like it.
There are lots of times when just-a-bit-too-much is not better than just enough -- blowing up balloons, multiple choice tests, drinking before driving all come to mind -- but this is one I know about. If the water feels perfect when you step into the bath, it's not hot enough. (That's my attempt at pithy advice. I must remember it for when I have grandkids.)
Quick endnote: had a heckuva time finding an image of a regular bath tub on the web. Lots of jacuzzis, heart-shaped things, and of course naked ladies and bubbles, but not too many tubs that look like mine.

No comments: