“I took that smile and I put it right where the hole in my chest was. It was better than coffee, or chocolate, or a perfect pirouette. I clutched it and held it tight.” ― Cecil Castellucci, Rose Sees Red
Mom believed a hot bath could cure any ailment and ward off the most virulent pestilence. Newly diagnosed with a rare disease? Dale would say, “Go take a hot bath, you’ll feel better”. Get bucked off your Dad’s spirited mare and have eight new stitches in your chin? According to Dale a hot bath was the panacea. Did your husband run amok with the girl next door? For heaven sakes take a bath; you won’t care anymore! I swear I saw the woman take three baths in a day. The steaming hot tub soothed her achy arthritic joints, provided a place of solitude and rekindled her spirit as the worries of the day floated away from her.
Cookies are my comfort, and one of the few things for which I will darken the door of the kitchen. The pièce de résistance is the “Ultimate” chocolate chip cookie with extra brown sugar, pecans, a smidge of coconut, a bit crunchy on the outside and a tad chewy on the inside. I make a batch, cook only a few and freeze the rest of the dough. This keeps me from eating fifteen at once and guarantees the warm elixir is available at a moment’s notice should Sweetie find me curled up in the fetal position at the end of the day. You can’t eat a warm cookie and not begin to relax. That first bite of warm melted semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate and browned to perfection cookie with crunchy southeastern Oklahoma pecans transforms me from Bellatrix LeStrange to Ginny Weasley. A lot just from just a cookie, huh?
For Gus the wonder dog there is only one solace, T-O-Y. The moment he awakens he goes on house patrol to find the T-O-Y. Toy in mouth, he then goes outside to do his business, never dropping the thing. When no actual toy is available he substitutes with anything he can find, acorn, pine cone, wallet or bra! Gus loves his toy like fashionistas love the garment district in NYC. He left the sane world of simple comfort long ago; he is now livin large in full blown obsession. And he’s a talker, “Where’s my toy, where’s my toy, where’s my toy?” You don’t have to speak canine to translate. This is a guy who has his priorities in order; comfort first, the rest of the universe later.
As Babe Magrath explained in “Crimes of the Heart” when asked what she did right after she shot that good-for-nothing husband of hers. “Well, as I recall I went on into the kitchen and mixed me up a big ole pitcher of lemonade. You know, just like I love it, with lots of sugar.” Evidently all the woman needed was a little southern comfort.
The grand repository of all that represents comfort however is the man cave. Only the male of the species dare enter this grand palace of consolation. There one will find accoutrements for any activity known to man! Into fencing? You will purr with content, fitted with the perfect sabre and mask. If you are a marksman you can chose from any caliber including air pistol or rifle. Feeling weak and need resuscitation, just grab a cool brew from the man cave refrigerator. Later you can try a around of Bocce ball or load you own ammo. Perhaps you feel more like golfing or snorkeling. And if none of this blows your fly fishing waders up, we can take you home on the Harley.
These simple pleasures ground us, comfort us, enable us to transcend the perils of everyday life and sometimes help us remember who we are. And, give us a particular comfort people can’t. Whether it’s a page turner that keeps us up till the wee hours, a magnificent cookie or a jog around the lake, we all have a binky to turn to for comfort. I can only hope that next time I relapse my stash of binky is safe and sound in the freezer!