Every year, it’s the same thing.  School starts and the music store is inundated with people, both parents and students, anxious to acquire just the right instrument.  And, even though the process entails a lot more than this one sentence could possibly contain, we manage to achieve the goal–sort of.

But, the week after?  The week after, the parents come back in.  They forgot this accessory or waited to buy that book.  It’s always something.  But, somehow we always seem to get around to the same question.

“My kid says that their band director told them to clean the horn in the bath tub.  Surely that’s not really what we’re supposed to do?”

The consternation is written across the faces of each parent as they contemplate the amount of hard-earned cash they laid down for this instrument.  Now, they’re supposed to just dunk it in the bath tub?

My stock answer the first few years was, “Why not?  You put your kid in the tub every day.  Surely she’s worth more than that horn…”

I don’t say that anymore.  About this time in the school year, most parents have lost their sense of humor.  Give it another month.  Then they’ll be back to normal.

But this week?

This week, I just say, “Yep.  That’s right.  Take the valves out and put the rest of it in the bath tub.  It won’t hurt a thing.  Except for the bath tub.”

The fact is, it really doesn’t hurt the tub.  It’s just that, after the water is drained out, the tub will be filthy.


You think you’ve seen a ring around your tub before?  Not compared to what will be left after your kid washes out a few months’ worth of grime and corrosion from the inside of a brass instrument he or she’s been blowing through.

How well I remember the first time I gave my French Horn a bath after the Lovely Lady and I were married.  She plays the flute.  That dainty little instrument would never survive the bath, so she had no idea what to expect.

And I, sensitive new husband that I was, left the bath tub as it was after the process.

The next morning she prepared for her bath and squealed in disgust as she began to run the water.  It truly was a horrendous mess.

I never left the bath tub in that condition again.  Some lessons take only one go round to stick with you.

But tonight, I’m wondering about another lesson from the drained bath tub.

Yes.  That’s the word I’m looking for.


It’s exactly what I’m feeling tonight.  Well, tonight and just about every other night for the last month.  It has been an exhausting few weeks.

I said the words to the Lovely Lady just a day or so ago, after I had answered the front door of my house, to find a customer asking me to open the store on a Sunday afternoon.  We were about to sit down to the table with our family and friends.  The customer desperately needed a solution to a problem by later that evening.  I helped.

All I said to the patient lady who keeps me sane was, “Everybody wants a piece of me.”

She just nodded kindly and suggested that a nap might help.  It did.

I’m thinking about that bath tub again, though.

You know, when the water is still in it, you can’t really see that nasty ring.  Oh, there are horrible little green things floating here and there, but they are dissipated by the amount of liquid.  The water doesn’t look so bad.

The side of the tub doesn’t show any ill effects of the process at all.

Until the tub is drained.

I’ve seen the commercials.  You have too.  Scrubbing Bubbles.  They just fly around, helter-skelter, and the tub is instantly clean.  Would that it were that simple.

Or painless.

Out comes the bathroom cleaner and the brush.  Oh, and one other ingredient, one the Red-headed Lady who raised me always suggested–Elbow grease.  Yep.  Hard work.  A little sweat mixed with the cleaner.

Who knew that being drained was going to make so much more work?  Perhaps I should just leave the water in there.  Surely, the Lovely Lady wouldn’t mind getting into that water so much.  She could just run a little more clean water in and it wouldn’t be all that bad.

Do you remember learning about the Dead Sea in Sunday School?  Do you know why it’s dead?  There are no outlets.  Nothing–absolutely nothing runs out of it.  The water evaporates some, but it never drains.


Give me a pretty little lake in the hills any day.  Streams and rivulets carry the rain water and the ice melt-off into it in the spring.  More streams, and perhaps a river, run out of the down-hill side.

Constantly emptying.

Constantly being filled.

Drained, but not drained.  Cleaned to become dirty–and then cleaned again.

I think I may have a gunky ring around my insides now.  Time for a few scrubbing bubbles and more cool, clean water.

There is more to be done.

Several people still want a piece of me.

I may be drained right now, but I hear the rain coming…

“Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!'”
(1 Kings 18:41 ~ NLT)

“I know it’s hard when you’re up to your armpits in alligators to remember that you came here to drain the swamp.”
(Ronald Reagan ~ U.S. President [1981-89] ~ 1911-2004)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

Did you enjoy this post?  Let your friends know about it by “liking” our page on Facebook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *