A Soap Story – Bar 2 of 3

Last year in June, as my then turned-pale, moss-green bar of my favorite soap was shrinking to a size smaller than a skipping stone, I began searching for the next bar in whichever grocery store I happened to be. They all carry it, albeit, depending on the store, found on a different shelf and order. With a couple months or so in between buying a bar, it usually requires a little exploration every time to find it, and when found, the obligatory “ah-ha” moment of “oh, it’s in that aisle here.” I never doubted and always relied on finding my soap when it was time for a new one, and like a reunion of old friends, it was always comforting to see, like no time had passed in between visits. By summer’s end though, it was clear it was not to be found.

You could say, “well, just order it online,” and resolve the problem, but that’s not my first, go-to choice or the point here. The point is, to answer questions like “where did it go?” and “is it coming back?” and “is it just me not finding it?” I needed answers to these questions, and sort out what’s real and not real. I can’t imagine this brand suddenly not being stocked by popular stores and definitely not a worst-case scenario of it no longer being made. Are other people, like me, wondering the same thoughts about not finding it? Even though valuable time and energy of every day is already divided into so many pieces, so often spread too thin, to me this is a mystery worth solving. I am compelled to add this one more thing to the to-do list: find my soap!

Before full-panic could set in, I turned my search to within my house. I found myself rummaging through bathroom drawers and closet shelves for some other acceptable substitute soap, and even hopeful for the possibility of finding a random surprise-bar of my favorite, somehow stashed away and deeply hidden under extra toothbrushes or behind a lineup of bottled toiletry tonics. No such luck. So, I chose from what I found: a gifted, handmade peppermint-herbal bar on to which I topped with a smallish, milled-lavender block from a hotel.

These bars stuck together with use, resembling a little, Zen stone stack neatly positioned at an angle on the built-in, shower corner-shelf. The creamy-white lavender bar sat atop the larger, chunky-beige peppermint bar on the bottom. Unexpectedly, the two distinctive bars combined fragrances and had taken on a cinnamon-red-hots, candy scent. The spicy smell mixes with steam and fills the shower, it’s pungent odor abruptly hits my nose and I try not to let it into my nostrils. I end up breathing through my mouth, but that, too, gives me a weird, candy-concoction taste on my tongue, and I don’t like that sensation either. It is not a smell that is appealing or wanted. I’d much rather be calmed by the non-aromatic bouquet smell of my simple, soothing olive soap bar. Without it, I feel like I am not getting clean, my comforting smell is not here, and I might as well be attempting to wash a body that is not mine. The one peaceful, important part of my day has become a time of hurriedly getting through it, avoidance, and it not being a time to relax.

One day in particular, my patience worn thin, I began a more direct investigation to find my soap by calling a couple stores, and unfortunately, received no straight answer of its expected arrival back in stock anytime soon. Those stores I called, were able to confirm that I’m not imagining it’s absence, and at least they were able to say, “no we don’t have it right now.” However, no one could say when it would definitely be back on the shelf. Humph.

My desperation masked behind hope finally came out in one shopping trip. I found myself interrogating an employee in an aisle where it should have been, explaining how there is no other soap quite like this one, how disappointed I am not to find it, and it is nowhere to be found. She agreed with me that she didn’t see it here on the shelf, and while glancing at the new, full arrangement of bar soaps, none-of-which-are-my-soap, she casually guessed, emphasized with a tilt of her head, that their store may have discontinued carrying it. What?!? No, no, no!

Meanwhile, this visual confirmation that no store has my soap, was compounded by the discovery that all of them have been quietly rearranging their soap product assortment as summer yielded to fall. In some cases, I observed the whole grouping of bar soaps having leaped to the other side of the “usual aisle” and placed down low. My sore legs from summer mountain biking accidents now creak and strain as I stoop down, cranking my neck and squinting my eyes to view the newly-sorted product lineup. Trying to read small type on colorful packaging, deciphering fragrance descriptions and ingredients lists, this only reminds me that I’m overdue for a new glasses prescription, and maybe I should be spending my time at the eye doctor, not chasing a rabbit that can’t be caught.

I was done with my exhaustive research on all of this, needing to save energy for other things that, quite frankly, are not getting done and require some attention, like the need to call my eye doctor for an appointment being just one “must-do” on a very long list. Then, a near-last resort of action came to mind, which probably should have been my near-first choice: go to the company website, and contact customer service and ask them directly what is going on. My long, soap-sob-story was finally put into an email. I was thankful to receive a reply back a couple days afterwards, with the reason that there was a “production problem,” but it is expected to be back in stores “by the end of October.” As fall began, my patience was somewhat restored with this reassurance, and as time passed, I chose to add, subtract, and mingle other soap bars to my substitute soap-stack, however not finding anything quite right. [This story continues in A Soap Story – Bar 3 of 3. Thank you, again, for reading.] ~Paula

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