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"Rubber duckie, you're the one. . ."

The theme for this weekend, supplied by ” view from the side,” is “Looking Back”.  As soon as I read that, my mind was flooded with memories.  Fortunately, they were all happy ones, concerning events that happened to my mom and me.  Every time I look back on the following event, I start to laugh.  Even as I dictate it to Sonya, I have to stop occasionally and wipe away the laughter-tears.  Here goes:

I grew up in the South during an era when ladies never wore pants outside the home, and never showed their faces to the world unless they were properly  “made-up.” It was also a time when you never arrived at a party to which you had been invited without bringing a gift, some small token of appreciation, for the hostess.  My mother was frequently the hostess for parties, and therefore she was on the receiving end of some lovely gifts.  One of those gifts was pretty, but what it actually was, turned out to be a mystery.

I believe I was about eight years old.  I was the youngest of three children, and the only girl.  I looked up to my two older brothers and wanted to be just like them.  In other words, I was a “tomboy.”  My mother often had to coax me to take a bath.  By “often,” I mean “every day.”  Following one of her parties, Mom showed me a gift she had received.  It was a lovely blue jar with a cover that also served as a stand.  It was made of a translucent glass and it had an appearance of being ” depression glass.” Inside, the jar was filled with a beautiful, sparkling-blue crystalline substance.  Mom and I puzzled for quite some time over what the substance could be.  At last, my mom figured out exactly what it was!  It was a fancy jar of bubbling bath salts.  ” Oh, Paula,” she cried,  ” wouldn’t you just love to take a luxurious bubble bath right now?” Well, I was hooked.  It sounded like a great idea to me.  I loved bubbles!  So, off to our “spa,” (the bathroom), we went.

Mom started filling the tub with lovely warm water, and I hopped in.  After the tub was partially filled, Mom opened the jar of bath salts, and sprinkled in a liberal amount under the flowing tap.  We both eagerly awaited the beautifully iridescent, fragrant bubbles that were sure to appear.  We both watched in stunned silence as the crystals slowly sank to the bottom of the bathtub.  They just sat there.  Needless to say, we were both very disappointed.  My mom had been counting on taking one of these bubble baths herself!

All I wanted to do next was to get out of the tub.  Mom, however, convinced me to finish cleaning up first.  After completing the bath, I got dressed and joined my mother in the kitchen to continue puzzling over what that ” blue stuff” could be.  It remained a mystery for a couple of days before Mom gingerly moistened her forefinger, and dipped it into the blue jar.  With no small amount of trepidation, she brought her now blue finger to her mouth, and then touched it to the tip of her tongue.  The anxious look on her face was rapidly replaced with abject surprise.  She then started to laugh, and laugh, and laugh.  I of course joined in.  Even though I didn’t know yet what I was laughing about, her mirth was contagious.  When she was able to catch her breath, she told me what she now knew the mystery crystals were.  ” Cake-decorating sugar!  It’s cake decorating sugar!” Both of us then dissolved into helpless laughter again.  We both had a picture in our minds of my sitting in the bathtub, mutely waiting, for what we now knew was sugar, to foam into a proper “lady-of-leisure’s” bubble bath, and for those blue crystals to do something besides sink to the bottom of the tub.

Even years later, in fact, as long as my mother’s memory was intact, all either of us had to say to the other was, ” bubble bath!” No matter our current circumstances, we started laughing again as we did on that precious day so long ago. By the way, we never had a blue cake! Sometimes, looking back is a priceless gift.  Needless to say, this memory sparked other laughter-times, but for now, I will spare you. This one has been enough. . .