I held the Ivory soap close to my nose and breathed in deeply. There was nothing quite like the smell of a fresh bar of soap out of the package. The smell carried me back to my days of late summer evenings of avoiding my bath as a boy.
Needless to say I would always need one after playing ball in the light of the street lamps.
Around the bases were Charlotte, Clay, Bubba, Charlie and Jennifer. Some were on base while others anxiously awaited me as I prepared the swing the bat on Bruce’s pitches.
After two strikes, it was looking like I was going to leave my teammates on base without ever making contact.
I looked closely at the next pitch gripping tightly on my Louisville Slugger my brother gave me, knowing of I didn’t hit it my name would be mud.
And the pitch, the swing, and it’s…. another strike.
Well, I never claimed to be good at baseball, and my friends sure didn’t let me forget it, but thankfully, they had no choice. There were only so many kids along the street, and it took all of us, good or bad to make up two teams in almost anything.
I was quite limited in my abilities due to my ill health. I couldn’t run much without having an asthma attack. I was allergic to everything. So, I generally got the lighter duties among the group to help keep things moving.
Despite the health hindrances, my parents encouraged me to do my best and be active as I could and as a result I managed to earn my appropriate layer of daily dirt, grime and as my grandmother use to call it “a shining aroma that needs attention.”
So after a day and evening of adventures in creative neighborhood creativity among friends and sometimes competitors, when I came back in the door, inevitably no matter how I tried to avoid it, a bath was in store.
At a certain age, the only thing that would draw me in was an abundance of floating toys – ships, ducks, and boats – to occupy me as the dirt floated off me. You don’t think I scrubbed it off do you? At best it got a lick and a promise. I never quite understood what washrags were for back then. In fact I had a fear of them I think along with the scrub brush that came along with my grandma’s lye soap. Sometimes I wondered how I had any skin left.
Even today though the smells of Ivory or lye soap still flood my memories of those days when bathing was something that was just on a need to know basis. If I didn’t bathe, nobody needed to know it until they could tell it all on their own.