Earl H. Roberts

The doctor said, twice a day, in the bathtub, soak for 15 minutes. I did not have a bathtub. I am a man of the shower? A loyal friend got me a tub.

It was long and black, just slightly higher than a kiddie pool, but not quite as round. I filled it with hot water and stuck my toe in. It was too hot of course. One can't have that, can one? I wondered as I held my scalded toe and danced around.

Cold water in ample supply solved the problem. The next time my toe went in the rest of me followed. I had set the timer for 15 minutes. When the time was up the light would go out.

That was the theory.

I sat there for an hour. The light was still on; the timer had quit. I went to look at the clock. It had quit working too. Talk about drotted luck; my wristwatch on the bed had quit on the very same second. I dialed a certain number so I could reset them as needed, and found out either the whole world was frozen in space or I had indeed been hovering in the tub for only 6 minutes and 42 seconds.

I drummed my fingers on the shower curtain as I looked at the tub. Obviously this kind of therapy was not as easy as it sounded. I put my toe into the water and decided it was too cool. Hot water in ample supply solved that problem. I followed my toe into the tub and looked at it, then the others beside it. I drummed my fingers on the side of the tub. Then I looked at my toes.

Then I wondered if Buddha had ever needed his toes trimmed. Naturally everyone does, and soaking your nails does make them easier to trim. Therefore, Buddha must have sat in a bathtub at some point in time or space too. That thought gave me comfort. Buddha had believed in contemplation. I would contemplate. Have you ever sat in a bathtub and contemplated? It is far from easy. What is there to contemplate about in the bath tub but the facts in front of your face, namely your toes?

As I contemplated them I realized they did need trimming. "At least this soak will soften them so I can trim the nails more easily."

I tried to think of something else, anything else. I never got past my toes. What good are toes? I did not come up with a good answer. Houdini could use his toes like a second set of hands. I can't even use my hands like a second set of hands.

I contemplated my toes some more. The big toe was too big and the little toe was too little. That made my feet lopsided. Maybe if I had begun contemplating my toes in the first grade when I first learned about Buddha my feet would not have been crooked. How can we know cause and effect when nothing is certain in this world but death and taxes? I gave my navel a good scrubbing, then looked to see if my toes were done yet. They weren't.

I rose from the tub and shook the timer so hard the window panes rattled. There were still 4 more minutes to go. Just then the phone rang.

Saved by the bell. I snatched it up. It was no savior, it was my land lady. "What's going on up there?" she asked.

"Buddha's in the bathtub," I replied. "And hes having a hard time contemplating."



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