I am in the shower, when I remember for about the fourth time this week that I’ve run out of my special manly shower gel. It’s bright blue and it smells of determination. It has words like ‘energizzze’ written on it, so you really mustn’t use it past 6pm, or I dare say you’ll be up all night.
Oh well. I’m going to have to use my wife’s shower gel again. I’m going to smell like a hairdresser’s.
But what’s this? There’s a brand new bottle on the shelf. I squint as I bring it closer and read its label.
Has she gone mad?
“You bought some very unusual shower gel,” I say, as I make my way downstairs.
By which I mean I head downstairs in the house – I’m not giving you a running commentary on my washing routine.
“Yeah,” says my wife, pleasantly. “I saw you’d run out and I thought we could just share.”
I can’t stop my lip from curling slightly. Even after so many years of marriage, there is something about sharing shower gel that feels unnaturally intimate. People are supposed to have their own shower gel. There’s not supposed to be a communal tank. A society in which everyone smells the same is not a society I want any part of. Separate shower gels celebrate the differences in couples. It is also very hard for me to imagine my wife using bright blue shower gel that smells of determination and has ‘energizzze’ written across the front. I don’t think it is unfair to say that when couples start sharing shower gel, they have truly given up. But that’s not the point.
“The point,” I say, back on message, “is that I do not feel comfortable using that particular shower gel.”
“Why?” she says, surprised, and I have to say her surprise surprises me. “Are you worried it’s not blue and won’t energizzze you enough?”
“No,” I say, slowly, “it is because you have bought coriander shower gel.”
That’s right. She did.
“I know,” she says, and her matter-of-factness astounds me to the point of despair.
“Coriander shower gel!” I say, cleverly using repetition for effect. “And this comes from me – someone who regularly used that pink bottle we used to have that had ‘Clean Girls’ written across the front. Clean Girls I can handle. If I’ve run out of blue stuff, I’m all about the Clean Girls. But coriander?”
I had no idea you could even get coriander shower gel. I suppose you can probably get coriander everything these days. But someone actually looked at their life and thought, “I appear to have a surplus of coriander – I know, I’ll develop and market a coriander shower gel. That’s just what the world is crying out for.”
“Who comes up with stuff like that?”
“Someone like me,” replies my wife, her hands on her hips. “A visionary.”
Coriander shower gel.
Coriander goes on a Moroccan lamb tagine. It does not go on your gentleman’s agreements.
“Coriander must just be in right now,” I say, pretty much to myself. “It’s the hot new herb.”
“That’s right,” says my wife. “It’s the hipster herb.”
Well, call me old fashioned, but unfortunately it’s just not possible for me to start using a coriander-based shower gel. Particularly because my wife seems to already have decided that she’ll be using it. If we both use it, the stench of coriander in the house will be overpowering. People will begin to talk. We’ll become ‘That couple who smell of coriander’, just like Posh and Becks or something. Do we still call them Posh and Becks? I don’t care. Because people are going to become obsessed by how much we smell of coriander. They’ll use us to give directions. “The Post Office? End of the road, past the house that stinks of hipster herb.”
I’m going to have to make a point of buying shower gel myself. I can’t risk a fifth day of going unenergizzzed.
In the supermarket that evening, I find myself in front of a vast wall of brightly coloured shower gels. I can’t find my energizzzing one anywhere. Maybe it’s because I bought it from a garage. I’m going to have to choose a new scent. Instinctively I pick up a blue one. Bright blue screams clean. Like Domestos.
But maybe this is a chance for me to change. To make a clean start.
Apollo? Twist? SportBlast? Cool Kick? Fever? Dark Temptation?
I realise for the first time that for years I have been choosing scents without having any idea what they smell like.
I head off with a bottle of cardamom and black pepper shower gel. I think cardamom is going to be the next big spice.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting home, because we’re having Moroccan lamb tagine tonight.
I don’t know why. There was just something in the air.
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