For the last several days, we’ve been battling some sort of mystery flu bug, and by golly, I think we’ve won. All the afghans are in the laundry. The trail of tissues and empty water bottles is gone. The Motrin and Nyquil are back on the medicine shelf, and there are fresh sheets on the beds. The kids have had long and thorough baths, and now look like altogether different children. Their baths even seem to have left them with better, sweeter dispositions than they’ve had the last several days.
I was sick right along with the kids, and I looked like it. When Mr. H got home last night from his trip (right on the tail end of the Weekend of Sickness, which was part of his Very Smart Plan, I’m sure.), the woman who greeted him looked nothing like the lovely me he left behind just days before. My air-dried, wavy hair was pulled back in a bun-ish sort of way. Not a smudge of makeup on my face, and I was wearing the comfiest clothes I could find. I caught him looking at me a couple of times, and I think he was squinting his eyes, hoping that if he squinted hard enough, a freshly showered, blow-dried, made-up Jennifer would emerge from the sight before him. I asked him later if, in his mind, he was composing a letter to an advice columnist along these lines: “Dear Miss Good Advice, she’s let herself go. For the love of god, what do I do?” He laughed. Nervously.
We’ve been together too long for me to feel embarrassed. But since I was feeling better, I knew what time it was.
It was time for the Super Wash.
Now, I don’t know about you, but there’s just not always time (or, let’s face it, the desire) to do the complete, full service shower/primp every single day. If any of you are able to accomplish this, I applaud you. But, in my house, there’s a little system that bears more than a slight resemblance to the car wash menu. There ought to be a sign next to my shower with these choices:
The Basic: This is your simple, no frills, gotta-get-out-the-door, don’t care about looking pretty for Mr. H or the guy at Starbucks, wash. Hair goes up and out of the way (I will neither confirm nor deny the use of a shower cap), and the legs do not get a shave. The Basic is good for the days when I don’t have any errands to run, and my only public appearance is the car line at school, well-hidden behind a book or a magazine. It is also the shower of choice, and necessity, when I’m sick (though the hair sometimes gets washed, without a blow-dry, or I start to look scary).
The Deluxe: Still no hair wash, since it’s getting pulled back into a chic (-ish) ponytail or into a hair clip, but the legs do get shaved. To the knee. Somewhat haphazardly. The hair gets enough attention after the shower to look like I made an effort. (Girls, the Day 2 hair is only made possible by Bumble & Bumble spray hair powder. Awesome, can’t-live-without-it stuff.) Since I’m always a girly-girl about wearing at least some makeup, the final result is not bad. I can do errands without making small children cry.
Then there’s this one…(cue the disco ball)
The Super Wash: This is the full-service, bumper to bumper, top to bottom, cowboy-ready wash. The hair gets washed and conditioned. I shave the legs top to bottom. I might even exfoliate my face while I’m in there. And buff my elbows and the soles of my feet. This shower takes no less than 15 minutes, if done right, and maybe longer. The woman who emerges just might have an altogether different disposition, not unlike my kids after their baths last night. My hair gets a careful, tedious blow-dry, and probably a few Velcro rollers, too. (I don’t go more than one day between Super Washes. Just so ya know.)
The Super Wash happens a few times a week, but never when I’m sick. Which he must have realized last night.
It happened today, though. You can stop squinting now.