Soap Story




I was in the shower, the water running, and I reached for the soap. There was only a sliver left, barely enough to wash my left elbow. I opened the shower door, leaned and dripped toward the drawer where we kept our extra soap, and reached for a new bar of Ivory. My hand came up empty.

I backed quickly into the shower, turned off the water, and haphazardly dried myself. As soon as I found some soap, I would return.

"Hon," I yelled loudly enough to be heard around the neighborhood. I stood partially draped in the large towel and waited for my Darling Wife to heed my call and run to my side.

Five or six years later, carrying two yards of wine colored cotton fabric she had just removed from the drier, she came sauntering in. "Yes, Dear," she said.

"We're out of soap," I said.

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"I'm sure," I said. "The drawer's empty. I thought we had some soap in there. Didn't we just buy some soap last week? There must be soap somewhere."

"I used it," she said. She casually began folding the piece of fabric.

"You were that dirty to use four bars of soap since last week?"

"Six," she said.

"Six?" I asked.

"I used six bars of soap."

"Well, that means either you're very, very clean or you are up to something." My bet was that she was up to something. I waited for her to confess.

"Pincushions," she said.

"Is that some kind of code?" I asked.

"Wait here," she said. Where was I going to go? My towel only covered so much. I sat on the bed as she left the room. I watched as she headed across the hall to her sewing room.

"Here," she said when she returned a moment later. She held something in her hand that was wrapped in blue fabric and looked like an upside down hairbrush. The top of it was dotted by dozens of tiny yellow balls. Each ball topped a steel pin. "My new pincushion," she said.

"Pincushion?" Yes, it looked like a pincushion. But it was not round. Pincushions are supposed to be round and look like a cherry or strawberry. This was oblong, just about the size of....the size of a bar of soap.

"It's the wrapped bar of soap with some steel wool over it," she said. I gave her a very puzzled look. I had a good supply of puzzled looks and never ran out. I took the bar of soap, err, I mean, pincushion. I pulled out a quilting pin. I knew it was a quilting pin. It was long and thin and had a very sharp point. She was in the middle of another sewing frenzy. Hundreds of these midget daggers of steel had been all over the house. Now they seemed to be in my bar of soap.

"Steel wool?" I didn't use steel wool when I took a shower. I wasn't THAT dirty.

"The steel wool keeps the points sharp and the soap keeps them easy to use. Remember when the kids were babies and I kept all the diaper pins stuck in the bar of soap?"

"That was over thirty years ago," I said. Long before disposable diapers and Velcro and sticky tape, those slippery pins somehow found a way into our fingers when we changed the diapers, she much more than I. Ouch, I remembered.

"That doesn't explain why there's no soap in the soap drawer," I said, sticking to the point.

"I didn't plan to use it. I made some pincushions using all those small bars of motel soap we've collected on our trips. But when I started quilting, I started sneezing. I sneezed all over a yard of that nice corn-yellow fabric I just bought."

"You sneezed, so you stole the soap?"

"I didn't know why I was sneezing, but I only sneezed when I was quilting. So then...."

"Yes, go on. I'm listening to this strange alibi of yours for leaving your loving husband unwashed."

"All those little bars of soap were scented. That's why we put them in the guest bathroom and never used them."

"They made you sneeze and so you committed a third-rate burglary and plundered all the unscented Ivory."

"You got it, Babe," she said.

"But why six bars of soap?"

"I have lots of pins," she said. "I need two in the sewing room by the serger and sewing machines. I need one in the cutting room. I need two for basting the quilt. The queen-sized Amish quilt she was making was laid out on three banquet tables in the living room.

"That's five. What about the other one?"

"That's in case I lose one of the others."

"That makes sense. But what about my shower? I asked.

"You can use the motel soap. Wait, I'll go get it for you."

She did, and I showered with the miniature soaps. I also sneezed. I sneezed because I'm also allergic to scented soap. But she wasn't sneezing. Oh, no. She had used six bars of unscented soap to keep her pins sharp and easy to use and clean and very happy, and she wasn't sneezing at all

Copyright A.B. Silver 1998

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