h2>Dating : Harry’s Body Wash.
Have you ever heard of a bergamot?
It’s got a citrusy smell that you probably wouldn’t recognize. Of course that whole family has a pretty distinct scent to them, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a citrus that I couldn’t recognize as such. But bergamot.. I’d probably guess kumquat, or yuzu. Something I’m vaguely aware of, but not familiar enough with to pinpoint a scent. Maybe even just a cheap essential-oil manufacturer’s attempt at creating the smell of a naval orange, while keeping costs so low that they use no orange. Just a drop from syringe B, into test tube C, then leaven it with a scoop from canister A. Yeah, that smells kind of orange-ish. Label it Cara-Cara and push those candles at $14.99 a pop!
I finish wiping. Maybe not to the standard of a night on the town, but I’m about to hop in the shower anyway. Hot water and suds cover a lot of sins. Were I pinching one before a double date, sure, I’d give it a real polish. Two or three extra wads to be sure before I pull up the discount pleated pants embroidered with the name of a designer I’m not aware of, but Italian sounding enough to merit $35 from an outlet.
But here? I’ve no one to impress. The last grip of tissue with an angelic name and a manly marketing strategy had a few streaks on it, but nothing so bad as the first two. Good enough. I set the water to run.
Yawning, I stretch, trying to regain the feelings in my legs. From bed, to bowl, they were hungry for more. I never take them out anymore. Worse, is the red oblong circles like almonds, on my knees. There I sat hunched over on my elbows, half asleep, half voiding my bowels, but bearing down my fullest attention on the back of a bottle of body wash.
Harry’s Body Wash. Stone. An invigorating scent of minerals and citrus. 16 fl oz/ 473ml.
There’s this terrible habit I’ve had for as long as I care to remember: I like to find the entire alphabet on the bottles of goos and potions in the shower. You’d be surprised how often they’re all there. You learn to crave anything containing BENZOIC ACID, you say a little “Hail Mary Full of Grace” every time you’re saved from the chafing disappointment of a single absent letter by the branding of Johnson and Johnson, or a simple birth stamp on the bottom of the bottle mercifully indicating it was filled in June. Smartphones stomping onto the scene curbed this habit in almost every way, but here in the morning, eyes still full of whatever crust they develop at night, legs begging me to take them somewhere other than a toilet bowl, I meet with an old friend. Every bottle in my shower has been scoured. Some of them are dead to me, never to be purchased again. A shaving cream that couldn’t be bothered to print a K on their label, a conditioner living life in the absence of a W. But there is a new guest with us this morning, Harry has made himself at home, and I can only hope that he holds in store for me more invigoration than that of bergamot and the lack of parabens, whatever the fuck those are.
“Time to lather up” indeed.
Thank God for the decision to call water AQUA. You have passed the test Harry. Don’t sit by the conditioner, you get to be at the cool table, with us.
The water is hot now, scalding. But I like it that way.
Yanking back the double layer shower curtain, I’m greeted with my first jarring sound of the fresh day: the screech of old curtain clips against an older bar. We ritualistically replace the equipment thusly:
· Shower curtain liner — twice a year
· Shower curtain — every other year
· Curtain clips — every other year. Mostly in an ill guided attempt at matching them to the curtain.
· Shower curtain rod…. Never. That poor bastard has seen more mostly clean assholes step into the shower than I could hope to know.
Wetting my hair is the most cathartic part of a shower for me. I have the kind of thick hair that bald people tell me to enjoy, and hairdressers coo over. Those are the only times it’s ever nice, and neither of those times make it nice to me. But I’m too quiet and obliging to take this momentary joy from them, so I smile and nod, begrudgingly acquiescing to their desire for hair this thick. So when the hot water finally permeates, and my scalp gets to not only breath, but scream at the scalding water, a pent up primordial roar, it’s nirvana. Out of the frying pan, into the fire. But at least I’m not in some fucking frying pan anymore.
Conditioning is always the first course. A little amuse bouche to whet my appetite while I mull over the entrée. Shampoo seems a little heavy for tonight, so I think I’ll just snack, leaving the conditioner for a good long time to achieve the gilded softness that I long for. Not just for me, but for every baldie who gets a moment of joy from imparting his male-pattern-baldness-wisdom on me.
Moving deftly to keep my silkening hair from either of the dual showerheads now gushing the hottest that our ancient water heater can provide, I work to untangle my loofah. It hangs, brutalized under Ciera’s shower loofah, bath time natural loofah, shower exfoliating glove, and bath time exfoliating glove. A gordian knot of over-used, under-rinsed shower accessories, praying for death as they become unraveled and more desolate than they were when we bought them from the $1 rack at Rite Aid.
Finally freed, my lackluster black and electric green loofah comes alive under the hot water. Maybe too alive. I shove an unfurling ribbon of worn polyurethane back under the knot where it seems like it belongs, and give it a hefty squeeze. Suds from my last shower. Proof of the misuse and poor treatment of the tool whose fate it already is to scrub my balls. But this time is different. I squeeze every last drop of soap and water out of it, expelling any vestigial trace of the unworthy, Z-lacking, garbage bound body wash that last disgraced this shower. We have Harry now. We have bergamot, a smell I am now determined to log into the olfactory journals, a keepsake of a time worth remembering.
This shower is anything but minimalistic. Four types of shampoo, two shaving creams (one of which I’d die before using), three body wash, a bar of caustic soap made with oats, a rainbow assortment of dull razors now accentuating the vinyl of the bathtub with a holistic red smear as they rust, a whole world of cremes, sprays, combs, pastes, gels, caps. You become convinced that no one person could possibly need this many products to clean a body, and yet they are constantly running empty and being replaced. Maybe I do it wrong? Clinging to the remnant corners of a shelf in the back left of the shower are poised my bottles. A 2-in1 dandruff shampoo and conditioner combo, a body wash that will soon be in the trash, a large, dented bottle of a conditioner which does an okay job but smells good enough to make up for it, and our newest addition, a minimalist on the precipitous edge of a maximalist shower. Harry’s.
With a finely pressed loofah, and invigoration already coursing through me, I pick up Harry’s body wash. While extracting it, I exert a little flourish to knock Duke Cannon body wash out of the shower. A reminder to its disappointing label that we only accept the best here. Flipping open the cornflower blue flip top I squeeze the blood from this Stone onto my hungry loofah, and close my eyes to accept the smell steaming up to me.
“Bergamot.” I whisper. I’ll remember the name.
Starting in concentric circles on my chest, the undertones of mineral and charcoal begin to mute the citrus, but bring with them a life of their own. Entranced, I glance back down at the tube shaped blue on blue design, and ponder the woolly mammoth mascot subtly emblazoned across the front. For just a moment I think of Snuffulupagus. Was Big Bird really crazy? No time for that now.
Working meticulously down my body, my feet greedily accept the newest member of our cleaning team. With my whole body covered in a surprisingly thick lather, I move back into the range of the double showerhead, now marginally less hot. Spent too much time pondering Sesame Street. Redoubling the movements on my body so as not to waste a single drop of the marvelous potion which I have decided now earned himself a place in the front of the shower, I re-loohaf my chest. Moving this way and that, scalding my armpits, and giving my scrotum a proper steam, my body is now clean and entirely bereft of any suds. The old loofah doesn’t have many fights left in her, so I make a special effort to wring her out completely. She did good today, she deserves a nice dry.
Before I pay the check, its finally time to rinse out the below average performing, yet wonderfully smelling conditioner. Turning my back on the trusty loofah hanging on top of the assortment of her kin, I lean my head back and allow the water to once again bandy it’s way through the jungle of hair that only a hairdresser could love. The worst part about conditioner is that it makes the whole rest of your body slippery afterwards. For a moment I consider grabbing the loofah back off and using her as way to cull the residue but decide against it. Let her rest. Just a few moments later, my hair is shiny and sleek, my thoroughly exfoliated body is no longer slippery, and the water has been shut off.
Throwing open the curtains, I’m reminded of the harshness of a post shower world as the curtain rings once again squeal against the curtain rod that might be older than me. Feeling truly invigorated, I step out of the shower and grab the freshly laundered towel hanging on the door. It’s not my favorite towel, but it’s the fluffiest when fresh out of the dryer. Throwing the towel over my face as I completely exit the shower, the bottom of my foot still sleek with conditioner residue hits the Duke Cannon body wash which had been unceremoniously expelled from the shower. Seeking his own personal vengeance, he shoots out from under my foot and sends me sideways. Grasping blindly due to the towel over my face, I try to find the curtain rod, but barely graze the curtain itself as I fall, neck colliding with the side of the towel.
My last thought before I die is of Snuffulupagus.