For several weeks I’ve had an empty Stetson deodorant stick container sitting next to my computer monitor. It’s one of those things that if it were found there after I died it would drive the people cleaning out the house nuts. “Why keep an empty container like that?” they’d want to know. “And why keep it inside the computer wardrobe?” “What was a man’s deodorant stick even doing in the house?” “Why didn’t we notice how flaky Aunt Jean must have gotten in recent years?” Confession time. It’s a widow’s thing and a little back-story is needed to understand all the whys and wherefores involved.
My husband wore Stetson everything---cologne, deodorant, antiperspirant, after-shave, their whole product line---that part isn’t too hard to figure out. But it was getting increasingly harder to find it in the area stores so one time I bought another brand. Big mistake. You should have seen Don at bath time when I handed it to him and his aphasic, stroke damaged brain couldn’t tell me he didn’t like that brand. His vocabulary at that point in time was around twenty-five words and “don’t buy this crap anymore” wasn’t one of his working phrases, so day after day he’d throw the offending brand at his feet until I figured out what the problem was. A guy wants to smell like he wants to smell.
Rather than chase all over town to the better department stores that probably carried the Stetson and where we’d had to wear our Sunday-go-meeting-clothes just to walk in the doors, I finally started ordering Don’s Stetson online at $9.00 a stick plus shipping. I know, I know that’s a ridiculous price to pay. My husband grew up poor and later in life grew into a bit of a label snob and to make it worse he was a bulk buyer. If he needed paper towel, for example, he’d fill up the back of the Blazer with paper towel without thinking about his limitations on storage space. Formerly poor boys don’t like running out of stuff, it brings back old feelings that are better left in the past. We all have our quirks when we look close enough but his weren’t hard to miss. Recently, I found out that Wal-Mart carries Don’s brand of deodorant but it wouldn’t have mattered since we’ve boycotted that chain of stores since Ring was a pup and he’s been gone so long I don’t even remember where the old Beagle is buried.
When I found the Stetson deodorant online and showed Don the website, he was desperately trying to tell me to order more than the two I had selected in the shopping cart window. “Okay,” I told him, “I’ll order three.” ‘No!’ was one of his working phrases and we bargained back and forth until I got him down to me ordering six deodorants instead of “ten clock ten”---translation, 10 times 10 or in other words, he wanted me to order 100! “It will all evaporate before you can use it up,” I told him, “if we order any more than six.”
Fast forward to when Don died, one of the first things I did was clean his presence out of the bathroom---tooth brush, comb, brush, disability things he needed in the shower---but when it came to his stash of unused Stetson deodorant... well, I guess I was too cheap to throw them out and who donates that sort of thing to the Salvation Army? If you’re guessing that I’ve been using them since Don died and the empty container sitting next to the computer is the last of the lot, you’d be right. I figured no one was going to get close enough to my body to detect “the rich, masculine blend of rugged woods and spices” as promised in the Stetson advertisements, so I didn’t mind leaving my cheap brand behind to use up his high-end stuff. Now, near the end of my third year of widowhood, I get to go shopping for my own scented deodorant, something girlie. But I knew I wanted to write about this particular chapter in my “widow’s workbook” thus the container sat by my monitor as a reminder. (Like I’ve said many times in this blog, a widow’s work never seems to end.)
One time I went to an estate sale and every item there had a note attached and I understand the compulsion old people get when they want to do that. I bought a beautifully tailored but tiny pair of wool pants at that sale and in the pocket was a handwritten note that read: “My first pair of long pants, 1902.” I still have those pants and the note is still in the pocket. I’m far enough along in my campaign to stay on the right side of a competency hearing that I was sorely tempted to slap a note on that empty Stetson explaining its presence by my computer. I didn’t, but the thought was in my head. After I post about it, though, it will go in the trash. But let it be known I’m keeping the bittersweet memories that the Stetson deodorant evokes and I’ll feel good about that fact that my heirs won’t end up with a mystery to ponder should I die suddenly. ©
NOTE: If you want to read one of the very first (and, in my opinion, one of the funniest) blogs I ever wrote you can find it here... The Shower Stall Mystery