Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Vanilla Sugar

In my affinity for housewares, I rank somewhere between Homer Simpson and James Lileks. I don't do the purchasing, but I do know what I like.

A year or so ago my wife brought home some hand soap from Bed, Bath, Bodyworks & Beyond, or some such. I declared it to be a major find.

To backpeddle, hand soap is a big issue when you've got little boys. We try to get the boys to wash their hands at all of the socially acceptable times (after potty, before eating, etc.), but proper use of soap had become a real issue.

Most hand soap dispensers, in one push, give out enough soap to wash the upper half of a full-grown gorilla. Adults develop a Kerry-like appreciation for nuance, and so can press down just enough to get a small amount. Children, especially little boys, are still binary: do it all the way or don't do it at all.

This led to two problems: 1) the soap ran out fast and had to be replaced often. 2) very little of that soap actually helped to wash the hands of the boys in question. Most of it ended up on the counter, on clothes, on the cat, etc. Some of the time, these eager-to-please fellows lathered up to their armpits, only to forget to remove the lather with water. We'd find dust, dirt, and small children sticking to the boys' upper arms come bedtime.

So the glory of the new dispensers was that a) they used a small amount of soap, and b) they foamed the soap. This made handwashing both economical and fun! It's a floor wax and a dessert topping!

Knowing that this couldn't last, I asked my wife to get a lot of these new dispensers. She did, and now we have one for each sink in the house, plus a few extras to combat entropy.

Ah, bliss.

The boys primarily wash their hands in the downstairs bathroom, so I expected that dispenser to run out first. So a few weeks ago, I started noticing that it was getting low. In checking out the soap to see what would be involved in refilling it, I noticed that it was pretty runny. That must be how they get it to foam so easily. It's at least half water. No problem, I could do some tests, match the mix, and then refill it with Publix knock-off hand soap.

Then I noticed that the rate of decrease in the downstairs dispenser was accelerating. The boys must be washing their hands more, I figured, and patted myself on the back. "Good dad," I said.

So one day, I'm downstairs getting a Coke (it's a daily occurance, get over it) and notice Sam going into the bathroom, saying "Wawo," which, roughly translated, can mean "I would like to play in the water." I follow him in, intending to turn on the faucet for a few seconds and provide a major thrill.

Note: another translation of "Wawo" is, "I would like to drink some water."

Before I can get to the faucet, Sam grabs the soap dispenser, sticks it in his mouth, and begins to suck the half-soap/half-water down. He turns to me, grins, and says, again, "Wawo."

We're going back to bar soap.


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