Standing in the shower awhile back, I reached for my soap. I had recently unwrapped a new bar and put it in my special soap holder, the one that’s tucked up and away behind some shampoo bottles, so hopefully the Man I Married won’t grab it. As we age, we have different embarrassing issues which require different special soaps. Plus, in order to get our foster-to-adopt license, we once took a First Aid/CPR class together, in which the teacher ominously asked during the germ portion of class, “What is generally the last place a person uses their soap on when they shower?” No one would voice an answer. I for one felt like it might turn out that I was a freak if I shouted out an answer that no one else shared, humiliating myself to discover that I didn’t even take a damn shower correctly. Plus, how to say what we were most probably thinking without getting inappropriate?
She waited through the silence, and then said, couching her terms by quoting someone else, “As one of my former pupils said, ‘The Crack.’” Her point: stop sharing soap. As a liberal couple, we rarely march to the orders of authority figures, but The Crack Lecture fixed itself in my imagination. I like to feel clean and squeaky in a shower and not find myself visualizing where my bar of soap has been during someone else’s ablutions.
So our soaps, like many things in a long-term marriage, no longer mix. I bought myself a different soap holder.
But my brand new bar of soap was gone. It was my last bar out of the economy pack of twelve, so I could not even drip and dangerously slide my way over to the closet, risking hip fracture, to get another bar. I looked in MIM’s soap holder: nope, just his fragrant Costco soap that had gotten slimy on the bottom. When I got out of the shower, I looked in other likely places, like the kitchen sink. My soap was nowhere to be found.
“Did you take my soap?” I asked MIM at my first opportunity to accost him.
“But I can’t use your soap!”
Then I broke a cardinal marriage counseling rule, which is to NEVER use the words “always” and “never” during conflict. “You ALWAYS take my things!”
That got him mad. “I NEVER take your things!”
“I had to start hiding my comb, because every time I go to use it, it’s gone. Same with my toothbrush. I had to build a special holder where you wouldn’t grab it. You use my towel. I go to use it and it’s wet.” My evidence was mounting, but I changed the subject, ever so slightly. “So where’s my soap?”
“In my toolbox.”
But of course. Where else would my special soap be but in a toolbox?
Sometimes I feel like I’m in a Comedy-Romance written by Nora Ephron while she has the flu. Worse, it’s an outdated rerun that doesn’t quite stand up to the test of time. Our marriage often isn’t typical in gendered task-division or ownership of styling products (all of the stuff in the bathroom that looks like it should be mine is really his). Yet I was house-wifey hoppin’ mad that my special soap was floundering amidst the hammers and pliers.
But MIM could not find his toolbox. It wasn’t in the garage where he thought it was, nor was it in the laundry room. Finally, after a twenty minute search and a shoe change, he found it outside in the shed. With the other tools.
Should I have asked why my soap had migrated to a toolbox?
I used to always ask such questions of a man who never had an answer, but now I never bother.
The Erotica Writer’s Husband and Other Stories
“Jennifer D. Munro had me howling with [her] irony…” —Susie Bright, Best American Erotica Editor
“I laughed like a little maniac. I just loved it. Hilarious.” —Mary Guterson, Gone To The Dogs
“…poignant…” —San Francisco Chronicle
“…touching and funny…” —Slowtrains.com