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The Before Times…


As Eric and I sat boxing soap, our discussion turned to, “The Before Times.” The Before Times are the period in our marriage we affectionately refer to as before we got Jordan and became a party of three. In “The Before Times,” we did cool stuff. Well, we actually did stuff, maybe not cool but it was still stuff. We used to spend weekends going to small wineries, buy bottles of ice wine and good cigars, and sit in the hot tub until the wee hours. We watched movies with ratings higher than “G” on a regular basis. We attended concerts, the theater, and festivals. Our last big hoorah was in November of 2008, a month before we met Jordan’s birth mother. We went to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico for 14 glorious days…sigh. By 10 a.m. every morning I had a frozen frothy beverage in my hand and we languished by the pool until noon. At noon, Eric ate, “the best Mexican food ever!” and I ate ice cream. Seriously, I haven’t had ice cream that delicious since. I think it was made from goat’s milk, no joke. As with all our adventures, this too was filled with sitcom moments one would not believe if one had not experienced it.


Many of you know I refer to my handsome, little husband as The Bibbed Wonder because he wears Carhartt bibbed overalls everywhere. He has two pairs of actual pants he will wear and one pair of shoes he’s had since our honeymoon in 2006; otherwise, it’s bibs and boots. His attitudes are often communicated with quotes he takes and misconstrues for his own nefarious purposes: “Those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter” Fred Rogers. Only my little gem can take Mr. Rogers and use him against me on a daily basis concerning fashion choices. He refused to shop for holiday clothes. I am an avid shopper; this does not bother me. I bought him shorts, button down shirts and t-shirts. He was fine with it all until we got to the shoes…yes, I shop for his shoes too. I bought nice leather flip flops, normal, everyday flip flops. You would have thought I brought him home a pair of stilettos. He refused to wear them. They had to go back, no question about it. At this point, I’m exasperated with him and his new found fashion sense. I implore he go to try on shoes. He refuses to go try on shoes. Okay, you will regret this I say. This is a bad idea I say. We will be doing a lot of walking I say. He says bring me shoes that cover my toes. I got him a pair of Sperry’s. He refused to try them on when I brought them home and before I packed. You will regret this; truer words were never spoken.


Our first misadventure occurred poolside on day one. I brought sunblock, SPF 50 because the sun is different down there…that’s what my grandma said. I slathered my bluish white body up and prepared for a day by the pool. I offered the sunblock to Eric, “No, I will be a little red today but by tomorrow, I will be my beautiful golden, god-like tan.” He really does turn a pretty color in the summer says the woman who has never tanned just burns, freckles, peels, and turns white again. However, his cocky arrogance makes me want to write bad words in sunblock on his back while he sleeps. He did indeed turn red. Angry lobster, splotchy monster-like red. He did not turn his beautiful golden, god-like tan the next day. No, no it took more like four days with a series of blisters and peeling.


Speaking of blisters, we toured the ruins of Chichen Itza and we walked a lot. Those shoes that covered his toes and he refused to try on gave him blisters on the back of his heels the size of a fifty-cent piece. We went shopping for new shoes, guess what we bought, yep, flip flops…brown leather as a matter of fact. Dear reader, do you see now why I write with exasperation when I write about The Bibbed Wonder?


Our final misadventure, took place in the beautiful waters of Mexico. We went on a snorkeling adventure in the underground rivers. It was wonderful, probably one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had. You see, I can’t swim. Eric, he swims like a fish. Everyone had to wear a life preserver so I A) didn’t feel like the self-conscious kid in high school swimming class and B) thought I could handle being in water deeper than my knees. Also, I kept the guide with the extra life preserver within arm’s reach…just in case my life preserver failed. There were no romantic water interludes for us. Eric stayed at the back to avoid the crowd (social distancing comes very naturally to him) and I became great friends with Juan, the tour guide and my potential lifesaving hero with the extra life preserver.


At the time, Eric had a goatee, which did not allow for his snorkeling mask to seal tightly. Now mind you dear reader, we brushed our teeth with bottled water and did not order ice for our bottled drinks because we had heard nightmare stories of Montezuma’s Revenge. We never considered the fact that swimming in the waters of Mexico, not having a strong seal on a snorkeling mask and subsequently ingesting tons of tainted water would create gastrointestinal issues so explosive and catastrophic we would be discussing it almost two decades later. It was bad. It was really bad. Luckily, being the control freak that I am, I had gotten antibiotics from our doctor before our trip. Eric, who normally won't take Tylenol happily downed every prescribed dose. The rest of our trip was fantastic.


However, the discussion and remembrance of the dreaded Montezuma’s Revenge generated a conversation about Covid-19 and the masks. Eric brought up a valid point, a point so valid in fact that he quickly acted upon it. With the fear of exposure to the virus, it would be important to have a protective mask fit properly. Just like the snorkeling mask, a protective mask can not seal properly if one is covered in facial hair. His “man-man beard” he worked so diligently all winter to grow was hacked off and reduced to a more civilized goatee.


Which leads us to the Tuesday Spotlight…just follow me, I will get you there eventually…I promise. Very early on, I created a shave soap for my bearded, bald buddy. After reading about the chemicals and detergents used in mass produced soaps, I began reading the ingredients in everything we put on our bodies. I knew I had to create a more natural alternative for shaving since he does it diligently on a daily basis. I researched different recipes, ingredients, and methods and finally tweaked a recipe to my own satisfaction.


What makes shave soap different from other soaps, you may ask. The answer is the oils and the addition of clay and aloe. In order for a shave soap to be beneficial and successful, it has to be ultra-moisturizing and have a nice “slip” or moisture barrier. Not only does my shave soap incorporate the raw goat’s milk and coconut oil, it also has almond, jojoba and vitamin E oils. Adding to the increased moisture level is shea butter. Aloe vera makes it soothing and slippery while Kaolin clay is mildly exfoliating and moisturizing.


Eric swears by it and it’s not just because I make it and he has to live with me. He truly feels he gets a cleaner, closer shave and his razors last two weeks longer than with shaving foam or gel. Also, he has not had razor burn or bumpy irritation since he began using it. If you’ve met Eric, you know he has a clean-shaven head that he does indeed shave on a daily basis. I consider him my in-house expert. We are now able to giggle over his ill-fitting mask experience in Mexico. Sadly, I don’t think there will ever be anything to giggle about with Covid-19. If you have a loved one working the front lines or who is an essential worker, please ask them to consider their facial hair choice. In the before times, beards were cool and made a statement but safety and good health have to come first. These are just musings of a soap maker and her bald, bearded husband. We all have choices and options which is as it should be. As always dear reader, stay calm, stay smart, stay safe and wash your hands.

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