Moisturize This!

Just for the fun of it.

I am becoming alarmed at the insidious proliferation of “personal care products” that threatens the very fabric of our society. You real men out there know what I’m talking about. It used to be that in any given bathroom there was soap, shaving cream and a hand towel (the towel was only there if a female lived in the household). But then, a highly trained advertising executive made the important discovery that when you wash your hands it dries them out. This, in spite of the fact that if you were a man and therefore ignored the towel, your hands would actually have droplets of water on them. The only solution the courageous executive could find to this problem was to sell millions of bottles of moisturizer. Others took it from there, and so now days when it is time to wash your hands the sink is lined with a bewildering array of bottles and tubes, and it’s hard to know what they are all for. Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but I yearn to return to the days when soap was soap; lotion was lotion; and “cleansing body-gel” was just a sparkle in the eye of some executive for Oil of Olay.

Recently my wife brought home a bottle of indeterminate contents. I found it sitting by the sink in our downstairs bathroom, for all the world as if it had a right to be there. All I wanted was to wash my hands. The pump bottle of liquid soap which I had finally become accustomed to was empty, so I read the label on the new bottle: “Moisturizing personal cleanser.” Labels like this are not particularly illuminating to the average guy. The “cleanser” part sounded positive, but “moisturizing” isn’t a normal part of my hand-washing routine, unless you count the fact that the water makes my hands wet (see above). And the “personal” gave me all sorts of dark and embarrassing visions. Was this one of those things that we men don’t need to know about?

“Honey!” I called plaintively. “Where’s the soap?”

With no answer, I scanned the back of the label. “With soothing emollients, and a fresh clean scent, Frappé Moisturizing Personal Cleanser will leave you feeling clean and fresh and soft.” Make-up? One of the innumerable lotions for the face? I had no idea. I definitely had reservations about feeling “soft,” although “fresh and clean” was OK. Finally, I decided to take a shower instead. After all, in the shower, soap was still soap.

To my chagrin, such was no longer the case. I was confronted with various bottles with names like “Soft Spring Rainshower Cleansing treatment for Bi-polar hair.” Or, “Malta Crème Rinse for petulant, or permed scalp.” Most of these I was able to identify as pertaining to hair treatment of one sort or another. One suspicious tube caught my attention, however: “Emerald Water Moisturizing Shower Gel.”

Was it soap? My bets were against it. After all, I had lived this long without the benefit of Moisturizing Shower Gel, but you can bet your styling mousse that I never would have made it this far without soap. I examined the bottle more closely. “With a fresh Marine scent…Leaves your skin feeling smooth and creamy.” This threw me into a further quandary. What was a “fresh Marine scent?” If I put this on me, was I going to end up smelling like a new recruit in the United States Marine Corps? Also, I generally take exception to the implication that my skin should feel smooth and creamy. After all, I devoted the better part of my adolescence to giving my skin that “rugged, yet strangely hairless” look. The hairless part wasn’t deliberate of course. It’s just that my arm hair developed a little too late for High School. In any case, after so much work, I definitely did not want to go back to “smooth and creamy.”

In the end, since I hadn’t been able to wash my hands yet anyway, I went with the Shower Gel. I figured a Marine scent might not so bad. After all, I bet they still have real soap in the Marine Corps


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