April 28, 2020

How to Do It

We may not always want to admit it, but our behavior is influenced by what we see in the media. When we see beautiful and seemingly competent people doing even everyday things, we feel that we should be doing things the same way. This is easier said than done. Let me offer three examples.

In the commercials, we see attractive women washing their faces with some promoted brand of soap—or should I say, “beauty bar.” Then the person in the commercial puts her two hands together and deftly collects water that she then splashes elegantly across her face to remove the soap—beauty bar—residue. Somehow, I cannot seem to master this procedure. If I use both hands to collect my rinse water, when I lift my face, the water drips down my shirt because I don’t have a towel handy. The towel rack is too far away to reach with my head down, and, should I put a towel on my shoulder before rinsing off the soap, it will likely fall into the sink. Instead, I keep a towel in one hand and use a single hand to collect rinse water. More than one hand’s worth of water is invariably required. My method works, but it lacks the elegance of what I see on television.

Then there’s the matter of brushing my teeth. At the suggestion of my dentist, I bought an electric toothbrush. I am reasonably convinced that it does a better job of cleaning my teeth than I was able to do with a manual toothbrush. In television commercials, models use their electric toothbrushes smiling and generally looking both beautiful and capable. How hard can using a toothbrush that does most of the work for you be? I haven’t worked on the smiling part—I’m not a perpetual smiler anyway—but I would at least like to look neat. Instead, the brushing procedure seems to produce a foam of toothpaste that I cannot keep completely in my mouth. Instead, it leaks out, making me look like I have rabies. Not a pretty look.

Finally, there is the simple matter of removing a tee-shirt. YouTube hosts a demonstration of what, reputedly, is the fastest way of doing so. It only uses one hand, sort of. I don‘t think that many people use this technique, which looks more like a magic trick than an elegant lifestyle skill learned in charm school. No, what appears to be the standard way one is supposed to remove one’s shirt is to cross your arms, grasp the hem of the shirt with each hand, and pull up, thereby removing the shirt over one’s head. In Equus, Jill performed this maneuver so effortlessly before Alan, revealing that she was wearing nothing underneath. I, however, cannot pull this off. (Pardon the pun.) When I get my arms halfway up, my shirt kind of gets stuck. I can remove the shirt in the end, but I don’t look at all cool. In practice, I pull my shirt at the neck and pull it over my head.

I’m sure there are other everyday tasks I’m not good at, but those described above are the ones that most seem to bug me. Do others share my disabilities?

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