Barely a day goes by when someone doesn't scrunch their nose at me and say, "Hey, Roger, don't you believe in using soap?" To which I reply, "Oh, I believe in it. I'm just no good at it."
You'd think people would understand. All the time, I hear folks say things like, "I'm not a math person" or, "I'm terrible with names" or, "I can't golf to save my life," only to be chided goodheartedly. Yet when I say, "I'm really bad with soap," you should see the odd looks I get.
I mean, people who have difficulty with math don't get calculators left on their desks. But you offhandedly mention to your coworkers that you just don't "get soap" and what happens? Little "gifts" of soap, shampoo, and bath beads start showing up in your cubicle. What the heck am I supposed to do with them? It's like giving a ratchet set to a guy who's just told you he's lousy with cars. I either give these so-called presents to the homeless or toss them in the trash where they belong.
It's hard enough dealing with the hairy eyeball at the office, but getting grief from my family–well, that just stings. Every time I call Mom, she asks me if I'm taking showers, which I am. Then she asks if I use soap, and I'm like, "Come on, Mom, you know how it is with me and soap." I don't see her giving my brother Gene grief for being a terrible bowler, so why do I always have to get harassed about my little soap weakness?
Is it really the end of the world that I'm a lousy soaper? I mean, can't we focus on my positives? I don't chew with my mouth open. I speak clearly. I get my work done in a timely, efficient manner. I just have this mental block when it comes to soap. It's not like I urinate in the sink or talk about abortions while everybody's eating. Gee whiz.
I used to think this whole soap thing might have something to do with me being left-handed. You know how left-handed people are more creative because they're dominated by their right brain? Well, I asked my doctor if the part of the brain that controls your ability to use soap is the right or left side, and he said he didn't know. I thought doctors had to know stuff like that before they started operating on people.
Rather than get down on myself, I try to look at my lack of soaping skills as something that makes me unique. Sometimes, as a joke, someone will call me Pig Pen, like the guy from the Peanuts comic. I'm pretty sure they're trying to hurt my feelings, but I just remind myself that Pig Pen was pretty cool, pretty laid-back and sure of himself. He was always doing his own thing, just like me. Plus, most of the other characters in the strip seem to accept that he's just a dusty kid. (Except Lucy, but she's just a crank nobody really likes anyway.)
When I was a little kid, a lot of my friends were bad with soap. But then, sometime around age 13, they all started getting really good at it. Except me. My parents figured I'd start using soap when I hit puberty. But I'm 27 now, and my soaping abilities have not developed at all. I've decided to not worry about it, though. After all, if I don't have it by this point, I'm never going to have it.
Maybe one day, a meteor will crash to Earth, and I'll touch it and it will magically turn me into a tenth-level master soaper. But until that day comes, I guess I'll have to make do with tap water and the forcible hose-downs I get from time to time.