HEAD AND SHOULDERS SHAMPOO
Do they still make it anymore?
I am well out of the loop, living all alone in a house Mom bought me nearly 40 years ago. She is long dead, having donated her body to “science.”
Just got home from a walk around the block. I resemble an old woman but do not breathe a word of it. I have a mild limp, where I tumbled down my basement stairs like in a film noir starring Richard Widmark.
My time is consumed by watching disaster films on YouTube. How I loved “Cape Fear” where Robert Mitchum, sexy pot-smoking Mitchum, who was jailed for pot consumption, is avenging the death of someone who incarcerated him.
Drowning. Gasping for air. Keeping head above water. Floating on back.
My life once had a purpose. First I was a “shelver” at the Willow Grove Library in suburban Philadelphia. But I rose up the ranks. The pay stunk so the regular librarians left and they were stuck with me.
Little me. Emily Bartolomeo. No one could spell it properly.
Everyone, you know, has a story to tell.
Forget mine. Sara-beth had a head injury when her car crashed. She wore a helmet at work in case a tall book fell on her head.
She was a love, though. I always asked to see her rolling cart. That’s where she returned the books from.
Before work, I take a shower in my upstairs bathroom. The room is a regular Barnes and Noble of photographs. The photos are far enough away from the shower so they won’t get wet.
I step into the shower and of course I never think of the film “Psycho” where only forty-five seconds take place in the shower.
Do I perhaps have a death wish?
I think of the many people I know who have died. My dermatologist, a woman I went to library school with back in Texas, my former hoarder boyfriend, and a dear friend whose son killed himself.
From my Red Couch that I bought at Gamburg’s in nearby Hatboro, Pennsylvania – yes, it is still there – I wonder when I will be next.
First thing in the morning, I use my Water Pik, which I bought years ago from Dr. Abrams, DMD.
When I run my tongue over my teeth, they feel like newly minted diamonds.
He and I had a falling out as I forgot an appointment. He sent me a bill for $35. Forget that!
The bathroom has pink and blue floor tiles, from when I first moved in, 74 years ago.
My sister Heidi bought me Equate Shampoo, which lathers up like foam on the ocean. I step in the tub carefully. Twice I have fallen but I didn’t get hurt. (That’s what they all say, as they die of a concussion at Abington Memorial Hospital.)
When I shower, I have a special faucet, very high up, and I massage the Equate foam all over my body. Like my own private spa. Then I bend down and use pink Dove soap to put between my diabetic toes.
The tray which holds the soap is coated with what looks to be years of using various soaps. I have lain a small white towel on it to remove the disgusting layers. Will they ever come off?
Remember, I am now 75 years old, so I only have about 20 years before I croak.
Finally I was ready to take a shower downstairs. The shower has a name:
DuraStall. Apparently they still make them, but for four or five hundred dollars.
I am longing to take my first shower downstairs in perhaps 10 years.
I have written the directions on the back of my toilet: UP to turn on shower, DOWN to turn it off.
Letting the shower run a bit to get the right temperature, I stepped inside.
I had two choices: The water would be freezing cold or hot as a kitchen griddle with bacon and eggs simmering inside.
An old bottle of Head and Shoulders sat in the tray. Fancy! Colorful. Blue and white with an enormous cap that a baby might use as a pacifier.
I began to scream, even though no one would rescue me. Recently, on the Internet, I had watched the Bataan Death March where prisoners were forced to march until they dropped dead. Only a few survived.
“Help! Help!” I screamed as I rubbed the shampoo into my hair and body orifices. Out came the wax from my ears and down the drain into the sewer it gurgled.
A week before I had prepared for this shower. Over the shower door I had slung blue and white checked towels from the catalog from the Vermont Country Store. How patiently they waited.
My hair, which I cannot dye in the pandemic, is a brilliant cloud-like white. It spreads out like a fancy woman at a ball in Pride and Prejudice. Have I mentioned it smells glorious?
Would I do it again?
Are you crazy? Not the Bataan March, not the shampoo, not even the faith I had that the shower would work.
Please keep this all to yourself. The new librarian needs her privacy.