Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 05.25.16
Stanstead, Quebec


My soap has let me down

I had such high hopes for my soap. It had a revitalizing formula. Not merely a revitalizing blueprint or a revitalizing vague idea but a formula. That's science, math, the stuff babies drink -- any which way, very serious business!

Want more math? It was a Dove Body plus Face Bar. Body plus Face = 7/8ths of a human. That's a pretty complete soap. Pair that up with a Hair plus Appendages Bar, and you're about as thorough as you can be clean-wise without getting into internal soaps, which, by the way, I do not recommend.

I should note that this was Dove Men plus Care brand, and at this point, with all those plus signs, the math is getting far too complicated for me. Considering that boys are supposed to be better at math than girls, that's tough on the ol' self-esteem. Thank God for these gender-specific soaps to get a dude back on track and smelling like Aqua Impact.

You may be asking yourself, "What's an Aqua Impact?" It's what most people call a shower. But that's the thing with soaps. While they're building up your self-esteem, they're also building up your descriptive vocabulary. "Honey, I stink after a hard day stirring the gluten. I'm going to have a quick Aqua Impact. Then I'll be all clean and invigorated for the delicious Nutrition Swallow you prepared for us in the Culinary Zone!"

For years I've been using ordinary soaps to clean myself. Soaps that at best made lame promises like "For Cleaning," or "White," or "100 percent Soap." Ambitionless soaps. Soaps that dared not dare. Soaps that just lay there. Soaps you'd be embarrassed to introduce to your parents. When I was feeling down about myself, worried about the lack of rich lather in my life, I'd look down at my soap floating in its boring dish scum and mutter, "You. You call yourself a soap…"

What I needed was a soap whose creatively named scent would make me think of Alpine summits and halcyon winds, without even knowing what "halcyon" means, a soap where meaning was secondary to the promise of a clean beyond clean, that point where clean stretches the very notion of time and space until it turns in upon itself to become the essence of clean -- cleanliness as pure abstraction. With lots of bubbles. I needed a soap with extra "plus" signs.

I'd been disappointed before. I've flirted with soaps that promised to "rejuvenate with the purity of innocent waifs romping in fields of freshly folded T-shirts" or that suggested I could anticipate "the charged energy of 9-volt batteries against the tongue but not in a weird way" or warned that I wouldn't even want to put clothes on after using such a soap. But time after time, I've come away feeling mostly damp, smelling like Dollar Store air freshener and going through my day still only moderately enthusiastic about things. I've worn clothes, always clothes

But surely this time would be different. This wasn't just any body plus face bar. This body plus face bar had a "patented design with unique technology." Soap with a design, patented for my contours and crevices and bending parts! And it was written in CAPITAL LETTERS! Those were some serious adjectives with meanings and important-like feelings.

This soap not only had a "revitalizing formula" but a "revitalizing scent." That's a lot of revitalizing. That's re-revitalizing. And a good thing, too. Because if you've been vitalized once, you want to be vitalized over and over.

So did the No. 1 Dermatologist Recommended Brand give me a "cool kick of active freshness that rinses off easily"? I remember teachers telling me as a young lad, "Ross, what you need is a cool kick of active freshness," or words to that effect. Would this be my destiny fulfilled via an Aqua Impact?

In short: no. There was a tingling sensation, yes, but that turned out to be a poorly stored loofa. Did I feel uplifted? No. Lithuanian? Somewhat. Wet? Without a doubt. My aqua was impacted but not my life, not in any long-lasting, detergent-based way. I was not revitalized. As uplifters go, this soap was no cup of coffee.

So my soap has let me down. But my spirit is not broken. That's because I still have my shampoo and its promise of Gratuitous Bounce and Hyperbolic Shine. My life will be perfect.