Monday, February 23, 2015

15. Soap

They say that middle class Americans are overly hygienic. I don't know who "they" is, except that "they" probably live in the internet. I could maybe look up some source material to support my random opening statement, but it's 10:15 on a Monday night and the inside of my eyelids are looking miiiighty fine. Let's just take everything I say at face value without thinking too hard about it, eh? I'm not writing a thesis. I did that already, it was 60 pages long, and I haven't looked at it since my defense. My thesis was unfortunately not about Americans being overly hygienic, which is why I don't have any source material for this. Here is a list of some other things that my thesis was not about: puppy adorableness quotient, ostensibly illegitimate children of the midwest circa 1950, pickles. 

As far as I know, "they" are getting at the fact that a lot of middle class Americans take 20 minute long showers every day after doing nothing physically strenuous enough to warrant more than a quick rinse-off. We are apparently obsessed with being clean, which is why we are so keenly aware of when things are not clean, which leads to us cleaning things even more. It's a Never Ending Cycle... Kind of like the Never Ending Story, except without any luck dragons or terrifying wolf monsters that work for the Nothing. At some point we all just became infatuated with being flawlessly dirt-free all the time. I just tried to write "dirtless" but apparently that's not a word. It should be! Here is a list of things that are dirtless: surgery rooms, the inside of a space station, pickles.

Hikers don't have the problem of being overly hygienic. But that doesn't mean we don't pine for it. I've written about being able to smell day hikers' cloud of soap smell, but what I failed to mention is how keenly it makes one yearn for being able to scrub one's entire body with the stuff. Not just watery Dr. Bronner's, but real, solid bar soap. Also, to be clear, I'm not talking about anything fancy. Once you're a hiker, you learn to love whatever meager soap-like substance gets within 5 feet of your filthy body. 

If you've ever stayed in a cheap motel, you know the type of soap you get. It's thin, hard and plasticky, and is indistinguishable from a flat, rectangular crayon. It's the best.

Now that I can stand for hours in a Whole Foods, staring at the endless selection of $15 bars of soap and fluffy body cremes and foot meringues, I am overcome by how silly it all really is. Underneath everyone's sink right now is at least one bottle of goo that never gets used, but probably cost as much as four pairs of perfectly functional pants from Goodwill. Think of all the pant wearing you could be doing in exchange for that bottle of forgotten goo! 

But soap really is grand, and whatever body cleaning regimen you have is perfectly wonderful and you shouldn't change a thing. All we hikers ask is that you love your soap, and don't take it for granted. We'd do just about anything to spend just 10 minutes with that soap, but you have access to it all the time, whenever you want, and you hardly ever have to worry about Noro Virus. You lucky duck!

Clever Girl


  1. Clever Girl,
    I haven't commented since you and DT summitted Katahdin, but I have continued to enjoy your posts ever since. Kind of makes me sad that there are only a dozen or so left. One of your statements in this post really made me smile. I published my thesis in 1996, and have only looked at it once or twice since. Amazing how quickly those things become unimportant in our lives!

    I noticed in a subsequent post you included a picture of the snow outside your office window. Makes me wonder how tiny house looks with all the snow you have received. Can you still see the house? Halfway covered? Fully covered? Have you had to dig paths/tunnels around the house since your plumbing situation kind of necessitates access? Any chance you could share a pic or two?

    Thanks again for sharing your experience with us. I have really enjoyed reading.
    Glenn Williams
    "No Poles"

    1. Hi No Poles!
      Thanks so much for reading and following along!! We can indeed see the house! It was about halfway covered for a while, but it's starting to emerge now that we've had a few warmer days ("warmer" being juuuust above freezing). We have had to dig some tunnels around the house, hehe, you're totally right!