A soapless case

imageI 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 + Face Bar. Body + Face = 7/8ths of a human. That’s a pretty complete soap. Pair that up with a Hair + 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 + 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% 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 + face bar. This body + 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 #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.


This just in: Apparently you can vote for me as the Funniest Blogger. I’m really not sure what it entails, but after this latest post, I suspect there will be a write-in campaign to have my nomination rescinded.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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53 Responses to A soapless case

  1. ksbeth says:

    damn it! now my bubble has been burst – i always believed that better wording, pinpoint demograhphic focused products and abstract terms support all new and improved claims!

  2. Paul says:

    My experience has been exactly the same Ross- thanks for the great laughs. The style of this piece is remini<b<SCENT>/b> of Mark Twain (is he related to Shania???). After much disappointment in the toiletries offerings of the drug store soap aisle I stumbled upon Irish Spring. That fine looking lass who used to entice men to use IS if they wanted a heated relationship with a Bonnie Irish Girl Knew of what she spoke. Washing once with Irish Spring could produce a scent that was so strong it could easily be smelled from Ireland. In fact I got a letter from the Dublin General Hospital asking me to please atop using this product as their patients were complaining about how strong I smelled – from Canada. My dog passed out when he got too close to me – but i understand dogs' sense of smell is a gazillion times better than ours.

    Keep up the great posts!

  3. byebyebeer says:

    I feel strongly that a soap shouldn’t try to do too many things. Face soap for men is probably fine, but to claim it can also handle elbows and armpits feels recklessly bold. I recognize that brand though because my husband uses something in a squeeze tube…contains charcoal, I believe, baby tears, eye of newt probably. Welcome to a woman’s world of stupid skincare products.

  4. Yeah I’m not buying the soap until it has at the very least a calculus formula in the name and the promise of re-re- revitalizing.

  5. List of X says:

    If that soap is as revitalizing as it claims, they should place a few bars of it in downtown Detroit.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Lather away Flint’s dirty water.

    • Paul says:

      Bwahahaha! It’s years since I’ve been through it – at the time it was as if it was a war zone -literally, I had a drop in the downtown and had to get a police escort for my safety in the daytime. The police said they would not enter the area at night. Buildings were in pieces (stripped of copper and wire), even the phone poles were vandalized and the street lights were gone. The streets were a sea of blowing garbage covering stones and bits of buildings that had dropped there when looters had dragged electrical lines and copper piping from the wrecked structures. Pimped out cars parked in front of boarded up buildings and guys with dark glasses and leather coats came and went. Shadows of filthy figures flickered in the shadows, never quite visible in the light and seeming to gather around new arrivals, staying back and waiting like animals for a moment of inattention.

      They tell me it is much better now. 🙂 Still, a bar of Irish Spring at each corner would surely bring back its heydays.

  6. pinklightsabre says:

    Because I was reading this in the shower, I misread a line and thought it said, “my teacher was feeling me.” OK, lied: I was on the toilet. I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray. Bill

  7. Sheila Moss says:

    Oh, yes, I had forgotten about Dove with cleansing cream. I used to use it all the time. I sort of forgot about soap bars when body wash came along. My latest love is products with tree tea oil for the shower and shea butter for hands.

  8. redhendrix says:


  9. Pingback: Don’t Make Me Decide! | FiftyFourandAHalf

  10. When you say Dove bar, the first thing that comes to MY mind is a delicious ice cream treat that’s high in fat.

    I thought Aqua Impact was something that cost extra when you visited a massage parlor of ill repute.

  11. Holy crap, it’s so easy to market to men.** You don’t even need a new product.

    Step 1: Darken the color from pink to dark metallic grey and pound all the curves on it into a rectilinear and vaguely weaponized shape that resembles Batman’s suppository.

    Step 2: Compress the product name down into something so monosyllabic and harsh that if you shouted it, everyone within a fifty yard radius would spill their drink and experience involuntary bowel evacuation. Bonus points for slipping it some actual war terminology: “Thermonuclear Cheddar Cheese Bombs, Now with Added Danger!”

    Step 3: Scour the wording on the package of all feeling other than pride, greed, angry carport sex, and the subjugation of your inferiors. Refer back to the subjugation often. Imply how easily women are subjugated with just a dab of this stuff. Utilize action verbs. And the font in GQ.

    Step 4: Slash the price or jack up the women’s version to something more expensive. Because you don’t need all that added ylang ylang and Oil of Unicorn shit. You’re a man. And you can’t be fooled.

    **This post has been masculinized for your approval. Don’t believe me? Find all the verbs.

    Further reading: http://msmagazine.com/blog/2012/01/04/marketing-by-masculinizing-the-feminine/

  12. Barb says:

    Elyse said I should come over and read your post for a laugh.
    Let me say, “Ross, you’re spending way too much time in the soap aisle. It’s a trap. It’s meant to confuse and baffle. That’s why there are so many soaps, all meant to lead you farther down the path until you become convinced you should start making your own hygiene products. Get out of that aisle and go to the automotive or hardware aisles. There’s math there,but it’s in 10penny nails, metric wrenches, and mysterious measurements of volts and watts. I think there’s even something in the aisle to clean yourself–well at least remove grease.

    You’re a funny guy. Funny post.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Thanks. And thanks for the advice. I once wrote a piece on glue. So many glues. Who needs so many different glues. Whatever the product, there’s always another one. Welcome, by the way.

  13. Paul says:

    As an aside Ross, I just did a guest post over at Mark Bialczak’s. I would be honored if you had the time to drop by for a read. https://markbialczak.com/2016/05/22/no-violins/comment-page-1/#comment-79841 Thank You.

  14. The word ‘formula’ certainly sounds impressive. I’m similarly perplexed when I see the word ‘technology’ used in anti-perspirant, as in ‘Now with MotionSense technology!’ It’s hard for me to hear ‘technology’ without thinking of microchips and LED lights. I don’t want either of those things in my armpits.

  15. Ned's Blog says:

    If we ever get that chance to meet, don’t be weirded out if I try to smell you.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Back when I was an editor, my proofreader was an eccentric sort, lived in half a house in the woods. (The other half wasn’t livable.) Brilliant man but an iconoclast on many levels. He also wasn’t a big bather. When my daughter Katie, about 4 then, visited the office one day, Malcolm came out to say hi (he loved kids). Katie looked up and said, “I smell you.” This was still less awkward than the time I told him he had to bathe before coming in to work. I miss the guy. He died suddenly eight and a half years ago.

      • Ned's Blog says:

        Those are the kind of people who linger with us. Memory-wise, I mean. And that’s not a bad thing. When I was a chef, I had a cook who would sleep in his car behind the restaurant Saturday nights before his Sunday morning shift, because he made sure to pass out there after drinking all night. He would drag himself in hung over and with a wrinkled uniform. After the second time, I waited until he came in then dropped a metal hotel pan on the tile floor next to him. The sound made him hurl into one of the 3-compartment sinks, which sobered him up pretty quickly. I told him every time he came in like that on a Sunday, I was going to repeat the process. He eventually switched shifts with someone. But Mark Mobely and I eventually became good friends. I don’t know where he is now, but If I were looking for him I’d probably start with a restaurant parking lot.

  16. just_ditti says:

    first time reader and immediately followed. really enjoyed reading this! 😀 time to binge read the rest of your posts

  17. Hey, you’re not alone in the shower! Er…I mean that I found another dude who appreciates lather…um…I mean somebody else likes a manly scrub….I give up.


  18. Perhaps you may want to consider a different brand:


    I am not affiliated in any way. Heck, they did not even send me a bar after I featured some of their products in a brilliant blog post of mine.
    Come to think of it, Dove may be the better choice after all.

  19. I love this as a soap maker myself I hate the claims some commercial soap makers make. It’s soap not magic. Also facial soap and body soap need to be different ph balances.

  20. WP has suggested a number of posts, and it’s fun, reading back through the years…and realizing how many people are obsessed with soap. And the marketing people are still at it. I received a “man bar” (the actual label), that had casters on the bottom of the box, so you could wheel it to the bathroom. You get a short-bladed bowie knife with it, and are supposed to hack off a chunk now and then, but I chose to lay it down on the bottom of the tub, and just lie on it. The musk oil makes my eyes sting, but it’s very comfortable.

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