Bathing is so last century

It took moving to Israel for me to realize how obsessed I am with deodorant. Once I figured out that being caught empty-handed (under-under-armed?) could leave me in the poorhouse, I turned into an antiperspirant detective, tracking prices and doing comparisons in my head in order to take advantage of the best deals.But thanks to a trip to the pharmacy, those days are over now, and I will never have to search for deodorant again.

Pharmacies in Israel come in two versions. The ones affiliated with a single insurance company sell prescription medicine and a small supply of goods that no one would ever buy, except that your mind starts going crazy after you’ve been waiting for 40 minutes listening to the pharmacist explain to people how to take aspirin, and demonstrate correct suppository placement.

And then there’s the mega-chains, which stock things that I would never even expect to be sold commercially, much less in a place that would seem to call for professionalism.

When I go to the chain pharmacies, my usual destination is the personal grooming aisle. This is the section where true philosophers come to solve life’s greatest questions. For example:

“Grasshopper – Here are two creams that can be spread on the body to help with hair removal. One is in a black container and has a picture of a man’s heavily bearded face on it. The other is in a pink container and has a smooth woman’s leg on it. The cream in the pink container costs twice as much as the cream in the black container. Why?”

I could tell you that I bought the stuff in the black container out of principle. But it’s really because swimming season just started. But honestly, after spending the last few months in “winter” hibernation (yes, I know we had several inches of snow this year… but I’m from Michigan; so, basically that’s my idea of spring), my legs just had more in common with the beard at this point.

After grabbing my reassuringly hefty can of shaving cream, my eyes were then drawn to an abundance of bright orange clearance tags strategically placed on several of the deodorant brands. I have a love-hate relationship with the Israeli clearance tag. Half the time, it doesn’t seem to signify an actual decrease in price. It’s more like when a baboon makes its butt turn purple to garner attention.

Another 25 percent of the time, the price has been reduced. However, the original price was so high, that the reduction still means I will be paying twice as much as I would have spent in America before any discounts. In those cases, “clearance orange” is the new black humor.

But in rare cases, the clearance tag is a beacon of hope, guiding me to products that I need at prices that are actual competitive, or even downright bargains. This time, I saw some of the deodorants I tend to purchase were being offered at discounts of at least 50 percent, and I decided it was time to stock up.

I have to be extremely careful with deodorant since the time of the “Great Peach Disaster”, which is how my husband refers to the fateful day I purchased peach body wash, peach conditioner, and topped it off with peach deodorant. I am now forbidden to wear more than two items of the same scent, so I have to pay close attention to the labels. And for those products with names like “Morning Rain” or “Afternoon Delight”, I actually take a sniff.

Yeah, I’ve seen you people judging me.

“Oh look at her. Shameless! Huffing right in the store!”

But this intense scrutiny occasionally leads to new discoveries. I found one black roll-on with a clearance tag, and to my surprise, it said “Ultimate Strength: 96 hours”. I had to read it again; it had to be a typo! But no, there it was: an antiperspirant was promising four days of active odor and wetness control. I didn’t know how to react. Was this even something the public had demanded?

I remember the first deodorant to offer 48 hour protection. It had a commercial about a plane that was delayed for so long that everyone’s deodorant started to fail. That seemed like a great idea. I could imagine being caught unprepared for a day or two. And from then on, I kind of leaned towards the more long-lasting choices. But four days without bathing? Who was the person who went to the manufacturers and said:

“I’m tired of this penultimate crap! The time has come for me to be able to spend four days unwashed without my own stink making me hurl!”

But even as my inner voices mocked this new development, my hand reached out for the glossy container and dumped it into my bag. Because this is Israel, after all. And it’s better to be safe than sorry. And hey, we’re in a drought, right? So, I’ve started to test out my new purchase with a four day bath vacation. I expect a thank you from all of you for my efforts to save the environment.

Plus, if it ever gets to the point where I start force bathing smelly people on the train (and as the weather gets hotter, I can foresee that this may not be that far off), then slathering them with the ultimate protection means less work for me. And that’s a win-win, my friends.

About the Author
Malynnda Littky made aliyah to Israel with her family in 2007 from Oak Park, Michigan. Her recent stay in Paris, enjoying both medical tourism and her new status as the trophy wife of a research economist, has renewed her love for Israel, despite arriving just in time to enjoy several weeks of lockdown.