Hi, I’m Albert, I write for Deadspin. Here’s me, in more ways than one:
In fact that’s me in pretty much every way, if I am being honest with myself, except that Private Hudson looks like he’s in pretty good shape. But mostly what’s me is uncomprehending bafflement and the thick visible layer of grime coating him. That’s me in the supermarket, in the self-care aisle; that clump of wreckage he’s holding is a bottle of, like, Aveeno moisturizer, and I am deeply perplexed by it. That’s also me everywhere else.
In a more literal sense, though, here’s me:
No points for guessing that my daily self-care regimen is, uh, not super elaborate.
My day begins at 7:00 a.m., when the alarm goes off on my phone. Right now it’s summer, so my two young sons are not in school. This week in particular they’re not even in summer camp, so realistically what happens at 7:00 a.m. is, I turn the alarm off and go back to sleep for another hour or so. That’s sure as hell what happened this morning, anyway. Will it be what happens tomorrow? Who can say!
It’s, ah, it’s important to get, ah, another hour of sleep, maybe? For my health. For... for beauty. This morning I got out of bed at 8:19.
I’m very extraordinarily not a morning person; it takes hours for my higher brain functions to boot up, and I will still be sort of stumbling around with the squinty-eyed, confused, just-woke-up face and bearing and capabilities until like 10:30, at the earliest, if not for the rest of my life. Accordingly, I will not claim that I walked straight from bed to the shower, or to the bathroom sink to attend to my teeth. I will not lie to you, Jezebel readers! The first thing I did, today and most other days, was make coffee. Sometimes on weekend days I will not make coffee, out of some vague mingling of resistance to becoming totally dependent upon it and weekend laziness, but during the week I cannot be human at all without my hot bean juice. I consider this a Product in the way that a functional person with an established self-care regimen might consider, say, sunscreen a product.
Recently I switched from a French press to using a pour-over, uh, thing; my kids got me one for Father’s Day and I used it to make them happy, and then kept using it because the coffee it makes is a lot tastier. Here’s that:
The beans are just the store-brand Espresso roast (I like very bitter coffee); I grind them with a cheap spice grinder. I pour the finished product into one of those stupidly large metal travel mugs with a screw-on lid—y’know, for the commute to the kitchen table, where I work. I don’t eat breakfast.
I live in a weird log cabin in what used to be the woods of western Maryland before a developer bought the lot next to ours and turned it into a subdivision of single-family homes; now my silly home skulks behind some very ordinary aluminum-clad suburban houses, as incongruous and resentful as a rusticated cousin who shows up to family reunions wearing a raccoon on his head. My house sits on a hillside and you enter on the upper floor; the bedroom and bathroom I share with my wife are downstairs, and that’s where I go at around 9:00 a.m. to wash and brush and whatnot. (Please note here that I have not finished more than maybe a third of the big dumb coffee mug’s contents by this point, and that I will continue drinking coffee as soon as I come back upstairs with my freshly cleaned teeth.)
First I rinse my mouth out with Listerine Ultra Clean With Everfresh Technology. I like the Arctic Mint flavor because it’s a good shade of blue. I swish it around in my mouth for probably longer than necessary, because the growing discomfort feels like Rigorous Dedication to Oral Hygiene. For toothpaste I use Sensodyne ProNamel Daily Protection even though I don’t actually have sensitive teeth; ideologically I, too, am pro-namel, and I believe in solidarity. I use a motorized toothbrush that somehow didn’t make it into the photo.
Is it weird that more often than not I wind up applying toothpaste to the toothbrush, carrying it into the shower, and brushing my teeth in there, under the hot water? That’s what I did today. I am a Toothbrushing Wanderer; last week my wife kept finding my toothbrush in the kitchen, because on three straight days I happened to wander up to the kitchen while I was brushing my teeth, finished there, rinsed the toothbrush off under the kitchen faucet, and then got distracted before I could take it back downstairs to the bathroom. Other people have personality traits; I just stumble around leaving things where they don’t belong.
It’s scary how close we are to the end of my daily regimen. We’re almost at the end.
In the shower I wash myself with a bar of the orange-colored Dial soap, which has credibility with me because it’s harsh and absolute, bordering on hostile, and that means I can trust it. Twice a week or so I will wash my hair and beard with Head & Shoulders Advanced 2in1 Classic Clean, because I had dandruff for a few months 24 years ago. Other days I just let the hot shower water blast my head for a few minutes.
I don’t wash my face. Maybe once a month I will wash my face. But not washing my face has worked out okay so far, in the sense that I still have a face and it is not distractingly filthy and my wife claims to like my face, and that is what I look for in a face, so I am not inclined to subject it to washing. I also don’t use moisturizer or sunscreen, on my face or anywhere else.
Here is a genuinely embarrassing confession that I feel uncomfortable making. So, I don’t like getting my hair cut super short, but I also don’t like having hair hanging down in my face, and so like two years ago I confided in my wife that I didn’t wash my hair as often as I felt like I probably should, because afterward, when it was freshly clean, it was all... you know... frizzy and uncooperative and it would hang down and tickle my forehead and I’d have to spend like two days sweeping it backward with my hand before it got filthy enough to stay back there. She, an extremely high-functioning and fantastic-looking human who nevertheless somehow married and bore the children of Earth’s last australopithecine, made the very kindest face of patient, pitying tolerance, and told me that it didn’t have to be that way, that I didn’t have to walk around with a filthy, disgusting head all the time, that after I washed it I could just put some stuff in it that would make it manageable. She even had some of the stuff!
That is how I came to put a little bit of American Crew Fiber into my hair after every time I wash it. I get like a pea-sized dollop of this stuff on my finger and kinda smear it around on my fingertips, and then use those fingertips to brush my damp hair back away from my face. When my hair dries it looks wet and crispy and gross, but I have a nervous habit of brushing my fingers back through my hair anyway, and after a few repetitions of this it looks less bad.
I am sorry to report it does not make me Elvis.
When I am feeling charitable I will grant myself that I come by my comprehensive self-care incompetence honestly, having grown up in a completely busted and then broken home with two clueless, semi-feral teen parents, each of them in turn hailing from car-wreck households that taught them nothing good about how to, for example, maintain a rosy glow or preserve one’s youthful complexion. Long before I was old enough for anybody to point out that I should have begun shaving years earlier, I’d already fully integrated the idea that what self-care is is the means by which you mount a transient impersonation of a functional human being just long enough to get in and out of the grocery store without anybody calling the police on you. For years and years I tried to have the kinds of regular jobs that require a much more thorough and durable impersonation of a much more impressive and put-together type of human being, and I was catastrophically bad at it. Now I’m a blogger who lives in a log cabin. It suits me a lot better.
Speaking of shaving, I don’t shave. I haven’t shaved in probably 12 years or more. The skin of my face is made of Kleenex and dragging a razor across it just rips it to shreds; also and more importantly, my wife likes beards in general and claims I look handsome with one. But once every couple of weeks I will shorten my disgusting beard somewhat with the motorized hair clipper we keep in a bathroom cupboard. Then one of my kids will tell me I look like my brother; they don’t have the vocabulary to say that what I look like is the walrus who ate my brother.
In the winter, when socks and closed-toe shoes are mandatory, I will sometimes put baby powder all over my feet once they’re dry, to keep them from getting swampy. Sometimes not. In the summer I refuse to put anything more confining than sandals onto my feet, so I don’t bother with baby powder. I don’t use cologne. Use cologne if you like using cologne, but the idea of putting cologne on, well, me, seems absurd. Who would I be trying to fool, here. I am not James Bond. I sit at my kitchen table and write blogs about how much I hate bees.
I use Old Spice Original High Endurance anti-perspirant/deodorant, in whatever smell I happen to grab off the supermarket shelf. It seems to work okay. One time, because it made her laugh, my wife bought a stick of a kind of deodorant called “Dark Temptation” for me, but I can’t bring myself to use it. I am neither dark nor tempting and do not want to do any false advertising; also, it’s from that Axe brand that markets its stuff pretty much directly to PUAs and I don’t want to smell like them. It’s still sitting in the bathroom cupboard drawer; I think my wife uses it sometimes?
Anyway, after I’ve applied these various things it’s around 10:00 a.m. and... I’m pretty much done with products for the day. I drink a lot of sparkling water all day; this counts as self-care, I think, because even though I just like sparkling water and enjoy drinking it I also make a conscious effort to drink lots and lots of it, even when I’m not really in the mood, so that I will not idly snack on food instead. Usually and ideally this is San Pellegrino, in the big green glass bottles, but lately the store hasn’t had the 12-pack boxes of these so I got Gerolsteiner Sparkling Natural Mineral Water instead, which has a lot more minerals than San Pellegrino.
Later, in the afternoon, it will be time to get started making dinner, and I will wash my hands with the contents of this bottle, next to the kitchen sink:
As you can see, this bottle originally contained lavender rosemary dish soap. We’ve long since refilled it with whatever liquid dish soap they sell in the biggest jug at the supermarket. It’s for dishes but I wash my hands with it too.
Oh, also, late at night when I’m on my way down to bed I will discover that one of our dogs left a crap on the basement floor instead of going outside during the evening’s thunderstorm. After I clean that up, I will wash my hands with this bar of mystery soap in the hall bathroom:
I would like to tell you that I make sure to brush and floss my teeth before sleep every night, but more often than not I just stumble straight into bed. The last sort of vaguely responsible thing I can remember to do is to plug in my phone and make sure the alarm is set to go off at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. So that I can get an early start!