For Heaven’s sake, please use soap

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

By Les Ferguson, Jr.


In the old sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air, the theme song sung by Will Smith features the words “smell you later.”

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That’s a line that’s always resonated with me. The truth is, I have a strong sense of smell with an accompanying gag reflex. If it smells terrible, well, it might get unpleasant. 

In family lore, there is the story of my first time going to summer church camp. I was very young, having just completed second grade. As the story goes, Mom sent me to camp with strict instructions to change my underwear daily. Because I was an obedient son, I did. I just never showered or brushed my teeth the entire week. 

I’m told my dad’s gag reflex was firm on the two-hour ride home from camp. It was equally present as my mom repeatedly drained the bathtub to get me clean. The Gag Gene must run in the family. 

Thankfully, I outgrew the propensity to non-hygienic practice when I realized that good hygiene was essential to pretty girls. Funny how that worked out. 

The number of available personal hygiene products has dramatically increased since I was young. In our house, bathing consisted of yellow bars of Dial soap. As I became more concerned with manliness, I switched to Irish Spring. Coast Deodorant Soap was never an option. Not because of cost, but its smell — which reminded me of the foul body odor I was trying to escape. 

These days, I’m inundated daily with advertisements for new brands of soaps with names and scents guaranteed to make women take notice. Maybe you’ve seen them too. Read this article out loud near your phone, and the ads will show up for you, too. 

The names and scents of these soaps are pretty creative. “Dirt under your fingertips” proves you’re a good worker.  “Sea and Hay” means you know how to work and play. “Artic Shenanigans” attracts snow bunnies even in South Mississippi. 

Yep. If you can imagine it, there is a soap for it. Heaven help me; I’ll need a whole page in the paper if we talk about beard care products. 

In the meantime, if you practice good personal hygiene, thank you. As an added value, if you don’t smell like Coast Deodorant Soap, my gag reflex also thanks you.  

Unfortunately, we sometimes accrue dirt and stains that are more than skin deep. Indeed, our behaviors can stink worse than a dead skunk in the middle of the road (there’s a song reference from the 70s). 

In the words of King David of old, I’m thankful for spiritual lather — for the One who cleanses and makes us whiter than snow. 

As we often tell our kids, don’t forget to use the Soap!