ON WOMEN AND THEIR WEAPONS
[Having been married to three women, I have had ample opportunity to observe the many weapons they wield in their ever-pressing battle against time. This actually happened when I was married to my second wife. Amber, my third, conducts minimal but adequate maintenance.]
“I kinda like that new lotion,” I say to her as we prepare for bed. She’s in the dressing area rattling bottles and things. Women have a ritual they go through getting ready to dream, and
though I’ve watched it over and over, I still don’t understand it.
“What new lotion?”
“That apricot-smelling lotion, the new stuff. It’s unlike anything you’ve bought before.”
She’s poked her head through the doorway. She’s looking down at me. “What lotion?”
“Smell my arm.” I hold it up to her.
She leans and inhales. “That’s not lotion.”
“It’s in a lotion bottle, with the pump and all. Looks like lotion. Why is it not lotion?”
“Because it’s something else. It’s a smoothing serum that I use on my hair to keep it in place. It just happens to be in a bottle with a pump. You can get lots of things that way, probably even Go-Jo. Would you smear Go-Jo on your arms?”
“No, I would not. A smoothing serum? You wanta explain that?”
“Yes. It makes hair behave, and it helps hide the gray.”
“I haven’t seen any gray.”
“There you go,” she says.
“OK,” I say. I’m thinking, Wonder why they put it in a lotion bottle? But I don’t say anything.
When you bother to examine the area of the bathroom where a woman maintains herself, what you’ll find is a vast panorama of tools and fluids, powders and creams–a virtual body shop, as it were. There’ll be every size brush for applying the stuff that they put on, two or three sizes of scissors and tweezers, little sandpaper boards, indefinable implements designed to push back or pull out or lay over to the side or curl or straighten. It’s like they’ve assembled here all that is necessary to correct what they judge to be Nature’s mistakes or preserve the things She’s done right.
A man, though–ho, all he wants to do is keep his teeth and hair, make himself reasonably presentable to the public, and not smell beyond that point necessary to establish the fact that he is male. So he has his toothbrush, toothpaste and floss, his hair brush, shaving equipment, and a low-potency underarm deodorant. When time comes to bushhog his nostril hair, he just borrows scissors from his wife, a pair small enough to get up in there but strong enough for the job. When he gets ready to travel, he can throw all his toiletries into a quart-size ziplock, with room left over, while the wife fills up a make-up case not much smaller than the footlocker he had at the end of his bunk in the Army, and then she’ll have to kneel on it to close it, and he knows to stand back when they get where they’re going and she has to open it.
Some men may have a bit more in the bathroom, but not much. I’m bare-bones about such matters myself. Everything is strictly utilitarian. I don’t wear aftershave, so I don’t even have fancy bottles of green or blue or purple stuff with a name like Glandios or Multi-Musk or High Testosterone. Back in a far corner of the cabinet there are a few old bottles of colognes people have given me over the years–I’m too cheap to throw them away–but I’m not sure they smell the way they’re supposed to anymore. I don’t intend to find out.
The only exotic item I have in our bathroom is a device that looks like a rolling pin, except that instead of a long, smooth, solid roller between the handles this thing has a series of narrow rubber rollers with depressions cast in them. It’s a back massager, and it hangs on the wall in there, just as it did long years ago in a bathroom in Piran, Yugoslavia, before the guys who owned the flat gave it to me as a souvenir. It has hung there since we last painted the wall. The only time I used it on my wife, a couple of decades ago, she said it felt like a rolling pin and I asked just how she would know that–who’d rolled her with a rolling pin, you know, my curiosity up and all–and she said nobody, but that’s the way she figured one would feel, and that was the end of its brief American career. It simply gathers dust and provokes an occasional query.
But back to women and their battle with time. We must not fault these blessed creatures for summoning their grand array of weaponry against that dark, inimical force of time. They do what they can in the war we all must lose. I long ago gave up any notion of putting up much of a fight. And it shows.