Hygiene Is Not An Option

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By DeeDee Corbitt Sauter

I walked by my nine-year-old and paused. Something was just a little off. “Did you wash your hair?”

Bird was playing with my husband. It was after 9:00 at night but he had been given permission to stay up and shoot mini marshmallows in the dog’s direction. He had built a wooden catapult in Cub Scouts just an hour earlier and it was begging to be tested. In order to play with his confectionary projectiles, he was required to be completely ready for bed, with the next day’s school clothes and backpack ready. Of course, a shower was necessary. In my house, assumptions are made that soap and washcloths are used while bathing. Perhaps that is just nonsense thinking.

George, my husband, gave me an odd look. Bird responded quickly to the affirmative without making eye contact. I looked again. “Seriously,” I repeated, “Did you wash your hair? With shampoo?” George looked genuinely confused. Obviously he does not have “Mom’s Intuition.”

“Welllllll.” That’s all he said. The “L” sound was prolonged, dragging confession down its tail. George appeared astounded. Because I also have telepathy that was bestowed upon me the minute my oldest was born, I heard George’s voice scream, “HOW DID YOU KNOW?” I just knew. It was that simple.

Bird finally finished his thought. “I used water and got wet at least.”

I made a comment at that moment that I had never previously considered. I am not sure why those words needed to be strung together at all, but once I became a parent, I was saying all kinds of things that could in no way have been anticipated. Like now, “Hygiene is not an option.”

If I had said that no shower was necessary, then that automatically says that no soap is required. But, if running water is compulsory, those bubbles better be lathered up well! He’s nine and it was both P.E. and Cub Scout day; why would hygiene be an option? Because he is nine. I understand that; I don’t have to like it.

Strangely though, while sharing this story with my friends, I discovered that hygiene is an option all too often among the robust and sweat gland- enhanced associates of mine. As I am desperately trying to get my son to have more than a nodding acquaintance with Dove Extra Moisturizing Cleanser, adults worldwide are running amok with stink. Like a dirty, reeking little secret. I may be talking about you.

When babies are involved, parents take great pride in bathing their little precious bundles who are more often than not dirt free from doing nothing all day. Bath toys have to be a million dollar industry for this über clean population. Maybe we need to create toys as scrubbing incentives for the adult. Perhaps I should design some and become rich. Wait; I may be onto something. Stay away. This is my idea. I will target my dirtiest of pals first.

I have one friend, whom I simply adore. From the outside, she looks great all of the time. No one would suspect her little hygiene secret. Dirty socks, and by association, dirty feet. She bathes daily, applies makeup with detail and care, makes sure she has not just clean, but also stylish clothes and finally sniffs her socks. Ahhh, deep breaths. The older the better, she only changes them weekly, if that. The same sock does not necessarily stay on the same foot, but what does switching accomplish other than to share bacteria equally among all toes? I just realized I have no product for her. She actually showers daily and even washes her hair but doesn’t change the socks. Scratch her; there is no hope.

I have another friend who also washes almost daily but wears the same clothes several days in a row. Not just the jeans, but the tee-shirts and sweaters. Apparently, it saves on electricity and water. It also saves her from wasting her time with me. Maybe that is her goal. Does she not think she sweats? I am here to say she does, and my nose is acutely aware of this. But that may be her purpose—to keep people away. Alas, there is no keen invention for her either. I am not seeing my riches yet.

I finally come to a chum who does not enter the bathroom unless all her self-imposed criteria are met. She doesn’t like showers and I believe exclusively climbs into a warm tub only when it is surrounded by candles while holding a glass of wine. Once, when she was not given adequate time or privacy, she went six days between scrubbings. No kidding. For her, I can create a lock impervious to children, install a wine closet in her bathroom and maybe hire a babysitter. I doubt she would be enticed with little rubber ducks at this point.

I do not have stink rights on women only. There are men who think they should not have to bathe or shave on weekends. Their jobs have such strict dress codes that they are basically forced to be clean every day. The weekends, therefore, should not have such restrictions; to heck with the family. I have a female friend who recently went on a date; they met one afternoon see a movie. When he, “The Date,” arrived, he was preceded and followed by a visible trail of cologne. The little vapor waves they use in cartoons to indicate a strong odor are not imaginary. They were modeled after men like “The Date.” Why so much stench? Perhaps he was trying to hide decomposition. Maybe he was excessively flatulent. Possibly his deodorant had failed and this was an easier option than a washcloth and a new swipe of the roll-on. Regardless, she never went out with him again and now needs therapy when she inhales that fragrance. He also needs no toys; he needs a schedule and a check-off sheet. It’s OK to shower on the weekend; no boring meetings are required.

So maybe I do not have enough data available to create a tub toys for the lackadaisical bather. I will continue to ponder this issue as it’s clear to me and noses everywhere that hygiene should not be an option.


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