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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Great Undeclared Soap Wars

An epic battle of a long, grueling war was lost this morning after weeks of careful planning and strategizing on my part.  The victor, in this latest struggle, was my lovely wife Zahava.

Anyone who shares a domicile with another person probably already has an idea where this is headed... but I'll spell it out for the rest of you.  But first a little background:

Once upon a time, back in my single days, I shared an apartment with a room-mate who, for reasons of avoiding 'lashon harah', will remain nameless.  This room-mate and I had agreed at the outset of our cohabitation to share equally in all expenses, including rent, utilities, cleaning supplies and food.

This last item proved far more difficult to divide equitably since, unlike the others (which were roughly monthly in nature), food was an ongoing – nearly daily - expense.  At some point we agreed that we would both do shopping, and at the end of the month, after totaling up our grocery receipts, whoever had laid out more cash would be reimbursed the difference by the other.

However it quickly became clear that while the money would eventually balance itself out… the actual 'pain in the a$$' factor of going shopping hadn't been sufficiently taken into account, and wasn't being divided equitably at all.

We quickly established a routine whereby I would come home from a gig at 1 AM with my mouth all set for a cold glass of Coke… only to find the fridge innocent of that dark, bubbly beverage.   I knew I'd bought some the previous morning, and sure enough… there on the counter stood the empty bottle.

This happened again and again with nearly everything I liked to eat and drink.  And it didn't make me feel better that at the end of the month my room-mate happily coughed up the huge disparity in our shopping bills.  I had, in essence, become his personal shopper (or mother… I'm not sure which).

So, we (I) introduced a new household rule.  Whoever finished something had to go out and replace it that very same day.

Sadly, while my room-mate may have been somewhat lazy, he wasn't stupid.  This new rule led to my opening the refrigerator and routinely being met by half a dozen bottles of various drinks with a half inch of cloudy back-wash on the bottom… or finding multiple Doritos bags in the cupboard, each with one lonely chip rattling around inside.

Time after time I was defeated by my wily opponent... and I never did manage to level the field before moving on and finding an apartment of my own.

What, you may be asking, does this have to do with soap, Zahava and some sort of war?

Well I'm glad you asked!  You see… much as you hope it would, this sort of childishness doesn't end when you toss out your last room-mate and finally get married.

As in most households, our shared master bathroom has a shower stall.  And in that shower is a soap dish.  Zahava and I have had an unspoken agreement for the past 16+ years that whoever uses up the soap will go to the closet and replace it with a fresh bar.

Simple, right?

Well, since we were married, my lovely bride and I have been in the grips of what I have come to think of as 'The Great Undeclared Soap Wars'.

Happily there is no lack of soap in our house.  But for some reason there seems to be some resistance to actually putting a new bar into the shower when the old one has eroded past the point of usefulness.

We're talking about the simple task of throwing out the limp sliver of old soap and getting out a new bar.  This is apparently so distasteful that whoever has to do it has come to look upon it as some sort of crushing defeat.

At some point, perhaps 8/10ths of the way through a bar of soap, the two of us inexplicably become raving lunatics.  We will continue to use the dwindling wafer-thin soap for shower after shower… smugly returning the now-transparent sliver to the soap dish in hopes that it will completely dissolve when the other person tries to use it.

Well, this morning I got into the shower… and made a tactical mistake.  I actually picked up the sliver of soap and, without actually estimating how much was left, attempted to use it.

If I had been thinking clearly I would have certainly gone to plan 'B' (i.e. using the bath gel, or even shampoo, instead of using up the itty-bitty bath soap).  But I was groggy and wasn't thinking clearly… and before I knew it I felt the little slip of soap completely dissolve without a trace.

Zahava was still snoozing happily in bed when the enormity of my loss hit me.  I was half tempted to yell for her to get up and bring me a new bar of soap from the cabinet.  But rules are rules… and whoever uses up the soap has to replace it.  So I stepped out of the shower onto the cold bathroom tiles and retrieved a new bar of soap… unwrapping it unhappily as I went.

There was little comfort in my return to the steamy-hot shower because I knew that as soon as Zahava went to take her shower she'd see the new bar of soap sitting there in the soap dish… and victory would be hers!

War is hell.

Posted by David Bogner on July 29, 2008 | Permalink


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resolution - 2 bars of soap

Posted by: mata hari | Jul 29, 2008 1:47:11 PM

Nice one. I use bath gel myself.
When you have teenage kids around, something that never get replaced is toilet rolls - no matter how loud you shout! Must be something with the wrist movement involved in this action.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Jul 29, 2008 2:01:06 PM

ehrmmm... don't know how to break it to you, babe, but I don't use the bar soap -- only the shower gel.....

Posted by: zahava | Jul 29, 2008 2:13:48 PM

Zahava - LOL!!!! :-D

Posted by: Sarah B. | Jul 29, 2008 2:36:54 PM

careful things can escalate


Posted by: asher | Jul 29, 2008 2:45:28 PM

Quite apart from shower gel, why use soap bars anyway? Soap dispensers are much easier to use, don't leave horrible deposits on the soap dish and don't diminish to repulsive little slivers. All you have to do is drop an empty dispenser in the bin. If you keep a stock of at least one backup dispenser, it's no hassle to pick a replacement off a shelf. I don't know of any manufacturer who doesn't now produce a soap bar product in a dispenser version.

Posted by: Judy | Jul 29, 2008 2:59:17 PM

Everyone seems full of good ideas, but they're all for OTHER things that have to be replaced when the one in use runs out.

I have always attempted to judge my spouse charitably, even when he leaves me with a single sheet of toilet paper glued to the roll. I may notice something (toilet paper, toothpaste, hand soap, shampoo) at a dangerously low supply level while in the bathroom, but 90 seconds later, as soon as I exit the room, whatever I happened to notice is wiped from my memory. I am amused to note, however, that whatever is of prime importance to each of us tends to get replenished by the most interested party. Toilet paper looms larger in my legend than his; I'm usually the one to replace that. Milk, on the other hand, is always kept in healthy stock in the fridge by Cap'n Crunch over there.

Ah, these little domestic challenges. Just wait until the kids are old enough to participate (a la Ilana-Davita)!

Posted by: Shimshonit | Jul 29, 2008 3:21:36 PM

Ah-hah-hah-hah-HAH! [now climbing back up onto barstool, which serves as computer chair]

I am delighted beyond coherency with the image of a husband, battling himself, for 16 years, to avoid replacing the soap only he uses. Bogner, you are too cute for words. Zahava, you remain The Champion, at least of this one.

Take heart, Trep. "Nobody will ever win the Battle of the Sexes. There's just too much fraternizing with the enemy." One of the better things Kissinger said.

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Jul 29, 2008 4:41:29 PM

Perhaps it's time to make the switch to shower gel/body wash, David?

Posted by: tnspr569 | Jul 29, 2008 5:05:20 PM

This post, together with Zahava's comment, is one of the funniest things I've read in a long time.

But even if you're the only one using the soap, you still have to deal with the sliver. Here's Seinfeld's take on it:

"Well, I'm getting down to that little sliver of soap in my shower again. I'm going to have to make a decision pretty soon.

Throw it out and replace it with a new soap or try to do that Vulcan mind-meld to the next bar. If you do that with every bar, how much free soap does that come out to be at the end of your life? Does it really add up?

Do you one day look around and discover you're hundreds of bars ahead of everybody else? You're throwing soap parties. Giving it away around the office and away to charity. Maybe you would be known as ... the soap philanthropist."

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Jul 29, 2008 5:07:50 PM

There's another, more loathesome aspect to the Soap Wars...and that has to do with the Little Tiny Hairs that cling to that tiny sliver of Soap-Remnant, hairs that are devilishly difficult to rinse off of that little sliver, and yet which one cannot, in good conscience, leave for one's spouse to find...

Posted by: Elisson | Jul 29, 2008 6:09:07 PM

I resolved this issue years ago. For the last couple of years, the only soap I use in the shower is Lava. There is no woman on god's green earth that is going to want to share that with me.

Posted by: Barzilai | Jul 29, 2008 6:25:26 PM

I find this puzzling. I LOVE starting a fresh bar of soap, and I sometimes will throw out the little sliver (even if it isn't so little) in order to be the one to start the bar off. I also like to be the one to choose which soap to open - the rose scented Dove or the cucumber/aloe. (Ok, I know, I should get a life!).

Posted by: westbankmama | Jul 29, 2008 7:03:28 PM

There is a real art to making sure that you leave just enough food/drink so that you aren't forced to be the one to go replace it.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 29, 2008 7:11:58 PM

rutimizrachi put it well. I keep giggling (well, there are people around so I giggle inside) every time I think about it.

Posted by: mata hari | Jul 29, 2008 7:13:11 PM

I am absolutely CHORTLING about this!!! Especially Zahava's response! How much time have you spent, David, obsessing over who will win the soap wars? It's all about the competition for you guys...

I also like Seinfeld's take on this topic, as quoted by Dave:

"Throw it out and replace it with a new soap or try to do that Vulcan mind-meld to the next bar."

That's exactly what I do. I'm sure it's saved me thousands since I began doing it back in '86.

Posted by: Baila | Jul 29, 2008 7:50:06 PM

"I find this puzzling. I LOVE starting a fresh bar of soap, and I sometimes will throw out the little sliver (even if it isn't so little) in order to be the one to start the bar off. I also like to be the one to choose which soap to open - the rose scented Dove or the cucumber/aloe. (Ok, I know, I should get a life!)."

I completely agree with Westbankmama on this. Even on the type of soap - love that cucumber/aloe! I am ALWAYS the one to replace the soap bar - and i don't wait til the sliver is that small. I want a BAR to wash with, so it can't be too little.

I like to be the one to use the fresh bar of soap.

I'm positive that my partner doesn't give one thought about the soap EVER!

David... this cracked me up! Only you could be in a war with no enemy! :)

Love ya, bro'!

Posted by: Val | Jul 29, 2008 8:44:50 PM

mata hari ... Nah. Just as flawed as the two state solution. :-)

Ilana-Davita ... Funny you should mention TP. When I was single, one of those jumbo packages used to last roughly a year. As soon as I got married we started going though about one a month! What up with that?!

zahava... Wow, nice going... you sank my battleship right out of the gate! I can't tell if you're being passive aggressive or if you're serious. My guess is the former since there have ben long stretches of time when no shower gel was present in the bathroom. Also, I can't bear the idea that I've been losing the soap wars for years to someone who wasn't even fighting!!!

Sarah B. ... Wonderful, stick together why don'tcha? :-)

asher... I'll try to stay alert.

Judy... Unless you stock those back up dispensers there in the shower stall it boils down to the same thing. Someone is getting out of the shower to fetch the soap.

Shimshonit... You have to have milk in the house! TP can be worked around with enough creativity.

rutimizrachi... I take it you think Zahava is telling the truth? :-)

tnspr569... Only as a last resort.

Dave (Balashon) My favorite soap quote is from Friends: "Joey: I don't get it. Why can't we use the same toothbrush? We use the same soap. Chandler: That's different. The toothbrush has been in my mouth. Joey: OK. But next time you're in the shower, think of the first place you're washing, and the last place I washed."

Elisson ... Oy, I started to clench up just thinking of what horrible graphic image you were going to share. Thank you for keeping it PG. :-)

Barzilai... How have you avoided serious infection without your protective layer of skin? :-)

westbankmama ... You're probably one of those women that nods approvingly and sighs when she's watching a movie where some woman is taking a bath surrounded by flowers petals and candles. Right?

Jack ... I wasn't going to mention your name, but since you outed yourself...

mata hari... [Joe Pesci voice] Do I amuse you??? :-)

Baila ... Great, another one taking sides with Zahava :-)

Val... I never aid I didn't like staring a fresh bar. I just hate getting out of a warm shower to fetch one.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 29, 2008 9:00:21 PM

hahahaaaa. too funny.
you've lost your own competition.

Posted by: weese | Jul 29, 2008 9:31:59 PM


The real question is whether your wife puts the new toilet paper roll on the roll or just takes it out and leaves it on the back of the toilet.

Posted by: Ezzie | Jul 29, 2008 9:42:40 PM

"I can't tell if you're being passive aggressive or if you're serious. My guess is the former since there have ben long stretches of time when no shower gel was present in the bathroom."

Those long stretches had to have been before 4 years ago. I haven't used bar soap in the shower since I discovered the nice shower gels here.

"Also, I can't bear the idea that I've been losing the soap wars for years to someone who wasn't even fighting!!!"

Ooooops. Sorry. But I had no clue you were fighting a war. And you know I am being truthful -- can you imagine how competitive I could get over something like this? Hmmm?! Hmmmmmmmm???!!!

I thought so! :-P

Posted by: zahava | Jul 29, 2008 9:52:19 PM

Regarding the oft-maligned Lava Soap, from Wikipedia:
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee referred to it as the only soap used in his household growing up, saying, "There are people paying $150 for an exfoliation. I could just hand them a bar of Lava soap."

Posted by: Barzilai | Jul 29, 2008 11:20:42 PM

David that's why you have kids so you can yell to them to fetch you a new bar, or you can go the romantic route, and shout out to your spouse to come to your rescue.

Yeah, yeah, this is a pg-rated program. : )

Posted by: jaime | Jul 30, 2008 12:30:40 AM

how sad is this? i read your very funny post and thought - wow, a male who actually uses soap - how can this be? the soap in my boys' bathroom remains pristine for a very long time while my own cucumber scented Dove melts its pretty little self away. trep - how did your mom get you to understand that soap works??

oh and i totally believe Zahava - most self respecting females wouldnt use the same soap as a male, we like to smell prettier than you do......

Posted by: Hadassah | Jul 30, 2008 1:15:00 AM

Many years ago I resigned myself to the fact that I have certain jobs of varying importance:
1. Kill and dispose of roaches.
2. Always, but always, be available to open jars.
3. Recap the toothpaste tube.
4. Replenish the pitcher of cold water in the refrigerator.
Once I realized that I had lost the war even before it began, I moved on.

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Jul 30, 2008 1:54:49 AM

On the topic of roommates....LOL

Posted by: Shmiel | Jul 30, 2008 2:41:54 AM

A last resort? Why?

Bar soap is...just plain gross most of the time, the exception being products like Gilchrist and Soames' bar soaps, which I had the pleasure of using in a beautiful hotel in Manhattan during a short trip to New York. Quite possibly the best hand soaps I've ever used.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Jul 30, 2008 6:03:37 AM

We have a rule that the kid who is responsible for tidying/cleaning the bathrooms checks every evening that there is one spare toilet roll in each bathroom, so we never run out.

But there is a tendency of the male species in the house (2 out of 6) to leave the tiniest bit of milk in the milk bag so that whoever wants cornflakes in the morning has to open a new one.

Posted by: Caroline | Jul 30, 2008 7:07:07 AM

My own spousal war started that way, escalating to toilet-paper roll replacement and from there to light-bulb replacement. Sadly, Kennedy's "domino effect" theory proved correct, and eventually we had to divorce just to retain sanity. My son's-in-law can't understand why only men are allowed to change rolls or bulbs...

Posted by: Yossi G. | Jul 30, 2008 5:57:40 PM

On occasion Zahava quietly slipped in a new bar, just to keep Bogner intent on his imagined war or to put him in a good mood to obtain a certain favour. Those are the mornings Bogner would sing in the shower, Zahava would listen from the bed and giggle knowing the singing would diminish with the bar...

Okay... I haven't laughed that hard in awhile and the thanks goes to Zahava!

Posted by: Dave | Jul 30, 2008 6:19:03 PM

No problem. I use Dial, she uses some feminine crap. Because of this, I smell clean and fresh and just ever so masculine / virile / young (despite being so close to fifty I could spit at it), and she smells clean and fresh and just ever so girlish / innocent / young.

I have, on occassion, 'borrowed' her soap. And have smelled very young and innocent and girlish in consequence.

Posted by: The Back of the Hill | Jul 30, 2008 11:53:44 PM

"Quite apart from shower gel, why use soap bars anyway?"

Cause it's not fun to stick to rub your gel-covered fingers all around your rear end. Better to have a bar of soap clean those areas for you.

Sorry for the graphic description, there was no way to avoid it :)

Posted by: Shlomo | Jul 31, 2008 11:00:12 AM

I figured out why my wife, and women of all stripes, can't ever seem to get the toilet paper hung the Right Way (the Right Way is so that the paper comes over the top of the roll, not hanging down underneath)... if and when they deign to actually get some and replace it.

It's because they never stand up.

I've been contemplating going back to bars of soap, never having been (for over 20 years now!) entirely happy with liquid soaps. I obviously have a long latency period when it comes to reaching the end of my rope.

The one thing that's held me back, is the whole "soggy bar" thing, where a third of your bar just wastes away in shower splash. Perhaps a closed soap dish?

Anyhoo. Thanks for the story. Fun read. ;o/

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Aug 2, 2008 5:36:16 AM

PS on the subject of bachelor pads (the real kind) I used to collect stories from me and my pals, intent on cataloging "bachelor behavior"... I still use some of the anecdotes rather freely in maths class to make certain points.

Example: my younger bachelor brother once dispiritedly remarked, during a phone call in our college days, "... y'know, if you ever run out of tomato sauce when you're making spaghetti, don't use catsup instead. It doesn't work."

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Aug 2, 2008 5:42:46 AM

Joyce and I have the same issue but regarding tissue (toilet paper), except I'm pretty sure Joyce actually uses the TP. I'm so glad I wasn't in mid swallow when I read Zahava's comment.

Posted by: Bob | Aug 2, 2008 5:16:38 PM

What? The honeymoon is over?? Say it isn't so! Maybe if you scrubbed her back in the shower, you'd know what kind of soap she likes. We discovered double showers at the hotels named, Sleep Inn on vacation last year. What fun !

Posted by: Joyce | Aug 2, 2008 11:39:46 PM

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