I had only been in the bath for a few minutes before my wife came into the bathroom. Your hair looks lovely, I said. Thanks, she said, I'm trying out a new shampoo.
You can't use it, she said, in a subtle yet firm manner. There was no hint of asperity, but a wiser man would have obeyed. You can keep using that one, she said, with a lipsticky urbanity, pointing at the industrial-strength unbranded tub sitting on the shelf. The kind of shampoo that would strip the hair right off a camel's back.
Yeah yeah, I found myself thinking. It wasn't a deliberate dismissal, more of a knee-jerk reaction from deep within my sub-conscious. I didn't even feel as though I was being disobedient. There may have been a tinge of guilt within my soul, but I felt strangely confident in my own savoir-faire. In retrospect this is worrying.
The moment she left the bathroom I reached for her shampoo. I spent a few minutes goggling at it, like an ostrich at a brass door knob*, or a penguin at a piece of cheesecake**, then I slapped it on my head (the shampoo, not the cheesecake).
I still don't know why I did it. I've always been fascinated by shampoo. A constant barrage of shampoo commercials has burned into my skull the misguided belief that somewhere, somehow,
a duck is watching me*** the answer lies in shampoo.
I also love newness, like when you open a new bottle of shampoo or bar of soap, or try on a new pair of socks. I dare you to find me one person in this world who does not LOVE putting on new socks.
Later in the day I again commended my wife's hair. It's the new shampoo, she said. The one you're not allowed to use. Foolishly I confessed to her there and then. I don't imagine letting loose a wholehearted guffaw of youthful mischievousness helped the situation.
I can't believe you used my shampoo, she exclaimed. You have a grade 2****, you don't even need to use shampoo!
What could I say? I couldn't defend myself against her logic, so I just shuffled away and made myself a cup of tea.
* I stole this analogy from Wodehouse.
** I made this one up, funny isn't it?
*** I couldn't resist chucking this one in, comes from a Gary Larson panel.
**** I'm a shaven-headed thug.