George Carlin, an American stand-up comedian, actor and social critic, described a very relatable issue with “stuff” that we accumulate over the years. As George so hilariously mentioned, “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” He went on to state that the meaning of life was to try to find a place to keep your stuff. His final takeaway from his five-minute segment was, “Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.” When you really think about it, ol’ Georgie was one hundred per cent correct. Most of us have too much “stuff,” myself included.
As mentioned in previous columns, I am a packrat by nature. I subscribe to the believe that “you never know when you’re going to need it,” whether “it” is an old business card or a pack of matches from a wedding from more than 20 years ago. This is a leftover gem of my grandmother’s and a favorite phrase of hers as well. One can understand why Hubby constantly mentions his desire for an uncluttered abode. Over the years, “stuff” has accumulated in cupboards and on shelves, most of which has been saved for sentimental reasons.
Hubby and my sister are similar in their ways of viewing possessions. Items unused within the year find their way to a donation bin or the garbage. Recently, Hubby attempted to clean out the mug cabinet as a large mug had knocked him in the head from its stacked perch. I retrieved three mugs before they made it to the recycling bin, including a small white mug with the words, “Best Nurse in the Business” blazed across its façade. Although I have not practiced in more than 12 years, the mug was a gift from a close friend. Sentimental reasons, indeed.
Last month, Hubby and I began the arduous task of cleaning out the dining room pantry cabinet, which was loaded with altogether too much “stuff.” We tossed quite a bit, including at least a case of beer that had long since expired. When I inquired about saving the beer for a later date, he opened a bottle to illustrate the lack of carbonation. As the song about beer bottles goes, “what a waste of alcohol.” And stuff.
As we collectively unscrewed the lids and upended them into the sink, I told Hubby that I planned to save a bottle or two for my hair. He gave me a sideward glance and asked why I wanted to pour a bottle of suds over my head. I smiled as I recalled the commercial for “Body on Tap,” a shampoo that was made with Budweiser beer.
Body on Tap was a shampoo that hit the market in 1978 and was manufactured through the early 1980s. Made with real beer as one of its hair-nourishing proteins, the product cleansed the hair and turned dull locks into luxurious tresses. The tagline, “brewed with one third beer—but don’t drink it” was delivered by the famous Kim Basinger, whose fresh face and gorgeous blonde mane was still new on the television scene.
My sister, who enjoyed the fragrance of a good shampoo, had been a Lemon-Up and Wella Balsam girl for years. When Body on Tap came to market, we walked to the May’s Shopping Center to purchase a bottle. It was thick and golden like maple syrup, with a wonderfully floral fragrance that tickled our nostrils. My sister thought the shampoo lathered beautifully and left her locks soft and supple. I have several pictures where her hair gleamed as brightly as a newly minted penny. My natural curls were smooth and silky. Sadly, Bristol-Meyers discontinued the shampoo four years later because it was not a big seller. We switched around often after that and purchased items like Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific, Prell and Pert, none of which gave the same wonderful benefits that the beer-laden shampoo offered.
Fast forward to today, as I gazed towards the forlorn bottle of flat beer as it sat on the dining room floor. I looked on-line earlier today and found that The Vermont Store offered the original Body on Tap, although at last glance it was sold out. Reviews of the product stated that the fragrance is like the original, though some reviewers disagreed. I would order a bottle or two once restocked, but only after I make a dent in the many bottles of shampoo purchased over the years by my husband on his multiple audits at Unilever.
George Carlin was right, truly. Isn’t that what our houses are, really? A pile of stuff with a lid on it. Unused shampoo, tiny soaps from hotel rooms, mugs that have long since seen their prime. Yep, now I understand why my husband wants to toss it all. After all, it’s all just stuff.
Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.