Jerry Zezima: Rub-a-dub-dub, no men in the tub

I haven’t taken a bath since the Johnson administration (Lyndon, not Andrew) and it looks like the drought will continue because boys aren’t allowed in our newly renovated bathroom.

That is the edict handed down by our three granddaughters, ages 11, 7 and 4. Even before the renovation began, they taped a sign to the door reading:


No boys allowed!

Yes, I know the word “girls” should be plural, not possessive, but you must understand that these girls are: (a) young and (b) very possessive of the bathroom they use when they visit our house.

They have an ally in their grandmother, my wife, Sue, a girl who doubled down on the order when she told me, the only boy on the premises, that the bathroom was hers.

Sue doesn’t mind sharing it with our granddaughters, who love to splash in the tub, but the rest of the time she wants the place to herself.

I don’t blame her. For the first 11 years of our marriage, we lived in an apartment with only one bathroom. Sue and our two then-young daughters, now the mothers of our granddaughters, complained that I took too much time doing important manly things like trimming my nose hairs and cutting myself to ribbons while shaving.

When we moved into a condo, the situation was somewhat better, but we were still in each other’s way when it came to personal hygiene and answering the call of nature.

For the past quarter of a century, Sue and I have lived in a house with two and a half bathrooms. We have shared the main bathroom, which has a shower but no bathtub. The other full bathroom, which is larger than ours, has a shower and tub and was recently renovated. It was seldom used — except when our granddaughters came over to put on makeup, frost cupcakes, play outside and wash everything off in the bath.

This got me thinking: It would be nice, after all these years, to take a bath, too. I typically take showers that use enough water to drown a walrus. But now that we have a brand-new tub, I have been tempted to pamper myself by soaking in a warm, relaxing bubble bath.

I remember the old TV commercial for Calgon bath and beauty products. A woman was in the tub, strategically covered by bubbles, smiling contentedly and exclaiming, “Calgon, take me away!”

I can envision myself in a new commercial, up to my neck in soothing water and strategically covered by bubbles, which would be appropriate since I am a bubblehead. I would also be playing with my granddaughters’ bath toys, which include a couple of rubber duckies.

“Quack, quack!” I would exclaim, to which I would add: “Calgon, take me away!”

If that ever happened, Sue would call the authorities to have me taken away. Then she would have both full bathrooms to herself.

But after so many years, it’s natural for spouses to want their own space. Even the most loving couples, as we are, need a little privacy.

That is why I am staking a claim to the main bathroom, which was renovated last year. I won’t go so far as to tape a sign to the door reading:


No girls allowed!

But I do think I deserve a sanctuary where I can trim my nose hairs, take marathon showers and bleed profusely while shaving.

The problem is that Sue hasn’t fully moved into her own bathroom yet, so we are still sharing the main bathroom.

That’s all right with me because I am not a selfish guy. So I don’t mind it when I am brushing my teeth and Sue wants to do the same. I simply smile, which causes toothpaste to drip out of my mouth, and move over.

But I am sometimes tempted, when nobody is around, to stand in the shower and exclaim, “Calgon, take me away!”

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service and is the author of seven books. His latest is “The Good Humor Man: Tales of Life, Laughter and, for Dessert, Ice Cream.” Reach him at [email protected] or via