By Chris WalterFor the first fifteen years of my life, I didn’t know there was more than one flavor of soap. We had taken a trip to visit my grandfather up North. He was always concerned with the finer things in life. at least, he tried to be. Either way, I remember taking a shower and being caught off guard by what I thought was a fruitcake in their soap dish. Come to find out it was just expensive soap. Who knew you could put rose petals in soap?The only soap I had ever known was Jergens bar soap. Need to wash your hands? Jergens. Need to wash your body? Jergens. Face? Jergens. Shave? Make a lather out of Jergens. Although if you’ve ever had the pleasure of using the iconic brand you would know all you have to do is rub a bar of it down your leg and half the hair will come out anyway.Luckily when it came to washing our hair we had an economy size bottle of Prell. These days, if I have some extra time while I’m grocery shopping, I’ll look for it on the shelf. If I can find it, I’ll give it a sniff for old time’s sake. One whiff of that magic green goo and my eyes start watering, not from nostalgia, but muscle memory recalling the intense burning.I’m sure that my mom had some type of girly soap, but we weren’t allowed to use her bathroom so who knows. My dad loved the Jergens so much that not only did he use it for everything mentioned above, he also used it as his shampoo and conditioner. For all I know, toothpaste.He had a bar of Jergens in his big, red utility van at all times, just in case he passed by a pond and wanted a good old fashioned mountain man scrub down. I think we even washed dishes with it at Scout camp. Always prepared.One morning, sitting next to him in church I looked over and noticed that he had a thumb-sized chunk of bar soap stuck in his hair, possibly from his shower that morning. I whispered to him and reached my hand up to pull it out, he immediately caught my hand and pulled it back down, looked me dead in the eye and said, ‘I’m saving it for later.’Never question a man with soap in his hair.Chris Walter is a Barnesville native, son of Susan Walter and the late Doug Walter. An artist and author, Chris lives in Alpharetta with his wife Ursula and son Abner. He is the author of ‘˜Southern Glitter’, a humorous collection of stories that are the byproduct of growing up and living in rural Georgia. His work is on display at kudzuandclay.com. His column will appear periodically.
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