“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! The woman could 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.
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 goes outside to do his business, never dropping the thing. When no actual toy is available, he substitutes 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.
The grand repository of all that represents comfort, however, is the man cave. Only the male of the species dares enter this grand palace of consolation. There one will find accouterments 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 choose 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 round of Bocce ball or load your 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.
Cookies are my comfort. 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 a couple, 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 I be curled up in the fetal position at the end of the day. You can’t eat a warm cookie and remain uptight. That first bite of warm melted semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate and browned to perfection cookie with crunchy southeastern Oklahoma pecans transforms me. A lot just from just a cookie, huh?
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.
These simple pleasures ground us, comfort us, enable us to transcend the perils of everyday life, and sometimes help us remember who we are. They give us particular comfort people can’t. Whether it’s a page-turner that keeps us up till the wee hours, a magnificent cookie or a T-O-Y, 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!