I ran out of soap recently. By this, I mean Ivory(tm) soap. Thanks to my sister, who in her role as Christmas stocking stuffer provides me with odd inexpensive gifts each year, I am well supplied with all manner of bizarre soaps. Such as the one I am currently using. But it's not what I'd really consider soap.
When it comes to cleanliness, I'm a man of simple habit. I need a shower in the morning. Every morning. If not, I feel grungy all day. Luckily for camping trips, this sort of mental discomfort at my own filth only lasts for about two days - on the third day without a shower, the filth has insidiously taken over and it no longer bothers me. I have embraced my stinkiness and it has welcomed me into its fold. Plus, when naturally greasy, my hair stands almost entirely erect, giving me a perfect no-Brylcreem-required preacher 'do. Hallelujiah! But if I am toeing the civilized line, I need that morning shower or all day there's this subconscious "Unclean!" refrain going on in my head.
And when I want to be made clean, I want to be made clean. So I use the soap that is, well, soap. You can keep your perfumed cleansing bars, your moistening body washes, your suppurating douche creams. I want soap. I want to be clean. If I rinse off and there's anything still on my skin, even if it is perfume or body oils or God Forbid moisturizer - and there's a special place in Hell for those who put moisturizer in soap - then I'm not clean. And the point of soap is, to become clean.
How I despise soap with moisturizer in it. Fragrance, I can understand. Not condone, mind you, but understand. After all, some people - unlike me - are stinky. So there's a twisted, evil sort of logic in putting perfume into soap, so that everyone steps out of the shower smelling the same. But moisturizer? I mean, Christ, can't you put on the moisturizer after the shower? How lazy are you?
In fact, that goes for the fragrance, too. Anyone who purchases non-soap soap is going straight to Hell, for Sloth. And the manufacturers of the stuff... well, let's just say were they to become cold sores on Satan's anus, they'd be happier than what is actually in store for them.
I gripe, of course, because I travel. And in other people's houses, I discover these sorts of booby-trapped soap-like products. It's white, it's in the shower, it comes in a bar-like shape... and it leaves a slimy residue that nothing will remove. I hop in the shower to clean off, and emerge greasier than when I went in! It's like opening a gift from a pet store and finding a face hugger.
Anyways, the other time I encounter this difficulty is when I run out of soap at home. As I mentioned, I have a large supply of odd soap, given more as zany keepsakes than as actual cleansing agents. But when my bar of Ivory has crumbled into flakes too small to pick back out of my pubic hair, sometimes I find to my horror that the bar even now dissolving around my nads was the last bar.
This morning, I found myself using a novelty product by the name of 'Geek Soap'. It was too large to handle in one hand, almost a small brick rather than a bar of soap, so I cut it in half. Luckily, it includes no moisturizer. Unluckily, it does include fragrance. So I spent the day smelling of vanilla and cinnamon. I'd find myself looking around to see if there was suddenly a Starbucks in my house.
But I can live with the fragrance, as long as I step out of the shower feeling clean. And I've already gone out an purchased more real soap, so the cinnamon brick is going back on the shelf. This is the usual fate of my emergency backup soap. I had a green bar of soap (given me by my sister) for years, that would get used every six months or so when I ran out of real soap. Now, the trick with this bar was that some sadistic person had embedded loofa flakes in it. It was as though it had big shards of chert in it, to scrape yourself clean with. Washing with that bar of soap was actually painful. I can't imagine who would ever buy it, save perhaps a sister, as a cruel joke upon her big brother. But it was a great incentive to get my ass out the door and buy more soap.
Anyhow, as I say, I spent the day smelling of cinnamon and vanilla, but was otherwise clean. And I went and got more real soap. So that's okay. But please, if you are one of those benighted sorts purchasing moisturizing soap, drop the dime and get at least one bar of real soap. Ivory, dial, whatever. Just something that doesn't attempt to turn one's skin into chicken fat.
Because I only find out once I'm in the shower.
- Sun Ra
Columns by Sun Ra