My Shampoo. My Self.

As the eldest of six children by my parents' marriage (yes, already my neurosis is so much more complicated than you can possibly have surmised), I learned at a very young age the critical sagacity of the "every man for himself" principle and that it included not only women and girls but clearly was conceived to refer presciently to me. Each of my siblings was at once a deeply dreaded foe and a dearly desired ally, and everything any of us possessed was labeled "mine" and "keep out" unless we felt like availing ourselves of what someone else had, in which case the label was promptly and unapologetically ignored.

I was nearly sixteen when my youngest sibling was born, and even though he's now 34 (you can math this one for yourself), my childhood mantra remains alive and well and living an entitled existence in my mom's house. To wit, the recesses of the shower stall in the guest bathroom where this mantra is encapsulated with the kind of acoustic resound only bathroom walls can create.

There are two full bathrooms in my mom's house--"her" bathroom and the "guest" bathroom--and, since we are not she, our preferred use is clearly restricted to the latter. The guest bathroom of my mom's house is clearly one locus where  "every me for myself" still lives. In the corner of the shower stall stands three tiers of anthropomorphized childhood syndromes in the physical forms of shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, facial scrubs, shaving creams, scrunchie nylon body scrubbers, and razors. You see, while each of us is but a guest in this house, we all return here with enough regularity as to merit staking our own independent claims in the form of daily ablution sauces.

Today, we are enjoying the first day of our weeklong Spring Break visit ("we" being my 11-year-old daughter and our two pit bulls) with a very slow start characterized by a morning lay-in followed reluctantly by our seriatim showers. My first step into the bathroom beckons me to inspect all the cabinets and drawers to detect what sorts of supplies are available for our use, either having been left behind by another sibling's visit or bequeathed by any of a hundred of my mother's recent trips to Costco. I've learned by this time to bring only the most esoteric of my bodily needs when I visit my mom due to the strong likelihood that a reasonable facsimile if not a better option will be available here in great supply. That said, the demand, too, is greater here, what with six of us and our respective significant others (be they life partners or progeny or pets (or any variation of the same)) all sharing the guest bathroom and its treasure trove of supplies.

Confident that my own needs will be met by my most recent visit's purchase of the Trader Joe's tea tree shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel that we use at our house, I open the glass door to the otherwise claustrophobia-inducing shower stall and stand face-to-face with the tower of childhood traumas, overflowing onto the floor. First comes the perfunctory assessment of the quality and quantity of my own self-caretaking efforts, evinced by counting the bottles to make sure all are present and accounted for and then analyzing each for the requisite remaining quantity of product. In fairness, it's been so long since our last visit that I can't recall exactly the amount we left extant of each of the precious products upon our departure, but the fact that enough remains today for at least a couple of showers is enough to currently satisfy. Next comes the requisite hunt-and-peck-for-something-I-haven't-yet-discovered that might work for my current hair or skin needs that necessarily was left by another sibling during another visit but is now fair game because no one else is here to hear the tree falling in the silent forest of hair and skin care products.

It is during this second phase when I come upon the three unmarked-yet-clearly-already-used, brightly-colored nylon scrubbers (none of which will I even touch because eeeeew and also someone else's skin) and two lady-razor bodies sans actual razor heads (clearly having been removed and likely hidden by the one of my three sisters to whom the razor belonged, once having realized that one or another of us had committed it to some unpermitted and clearly disgusting use). To the rational mind, it might appear strange that someone who would not deign to reuse someone else's nylon shower scrubber would at once be not only willing but quite interested to shave her armpits with someone else's razor, but the rational mind clearly has no business here in my mom's guest bathroom. After cursing all three of my sisters for having beheaded the lady razors when my armpits were so hairy, I recalled from my earlier hunt-and-peck having noticed a man-razor in the cabinet and decided that one would do the trick under the present, deprivation-induced conditions.

Not unlike the time when I unwittingly picked already-chewed meat from my then-twelve-year-old-brother's lunch plate and popped it into my mouth, only to learn some several bites later of my own mistake and then get so angry with my snickering brother that I chased him around the restaurant, threatening to wedgie him until adulthood, my use of the man-razor begins with a frustrating inability to remove the cover (apparently men prefer to slide their razors from their covers rather than flip the covers off?) followed by a too-hard-initial-swath down my left armpit causing immediate, wince-inducing physical pain (not to mention the painful realization that my own razors are so dull in comparison because they are reallllly expensive and I am too cheap to replace them with any healthy regularity). As blood trickles down my left side from the gash I have shaved into my left armpit, all the feelings of anger and YOU-did-this-to-me-ness well up inside me, and I am certain that one of my brothers (or even one of my sisters) has plotted against me and planned for this moment to happen, perhaps weeks or even months ago. And then, it suddenly occurs to me how ridiculous I am, and I start laughing so hard that I  get a bunch of shower water in my nose and half choke on it. So I collect myself, shave my other armpit with much more care, replace the razor head in its sliding cover, and place it precisely back into the cabinet where I found it just moments ago.

I figure this afternoon I'll get some more lady-razor heads at the Costco and leave a bunch in the cabinet for someone else to use later. On purpose.