Monday, January 17, 2011

Ex-Pat’s Dirty Little Secret: Hoarding

Awright other ex-pats, ‘fess up, I know you do this, too!  Hoard your own, personal, can’t-do-without, hygiene accoutrements.  This phenomenon is pretty much universal, so I’m just going to put it right on out there for everyone to read.  When you are first told that you are moving to another country, you start to immediately make a mental list of things that YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED to bring from home because you are convinced that your new country will not have THE EXACT SAME ITEM.  9 times out of 10, this is a perfectly legitimate assumption.

After you arrive and, as you acclimate, you discover that your new country will have something pretty close.  It may not be exact, but it will work.  After a few YEARS, you find yourself just using the new country’s stuff and you get over it.  Except.  Except for those few things that you discover, yes, it is true, you might perish if you have to go without them.

I have learned to live without every single personal hygiene item that, two years ago, I was convinced was irreplaceable.  Except.  Except for Pantene Smooth and Straight Shampoo and Conditioner.  I am still transporting this particular hair care product over in bulk from the US.  I have really, really curly hair and this shampoo tames it into something manageable.  It does not exist in Switzerland.  All of the Pantene shampoos here add body.  I promise you, if I added body to my hair, you could house a Haitian refugee family on my head and no one would be the wiser.

C’mon, you all do this, I know.  A certain soap.  A certain tampon.  A certain shaving cream.  I know.  I understand.  Your body just does not feel right, your hair just does not look right, your teeth just do not sparkle, etc. without PRODUCT X, right?  I know.  I can relate.  But there is someone who can relate more than me.  Yes, Mr. Big.

Mr. Big has not even tried to acclimate.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve yet to see Mr. Big step one foot inside a Swiss pharmacy.  Oh, wait.  I take that back.  Two weeks ago, he was sniffling and sneezing and trying to cough up a lung.  I DRAGGED his reluctant ass into a pharmacy and told the pharmacist that my husband had a cold and could he recommend some medicine.  Mr. Big was soooo desperate for relief, he actually used the Swiss pharmaceuticals.  Lo and behold, he felt better.  Amazing, I know.

But other than that one instance,  he brings everything over in bulk from the US.  Y’ALL!!  Q-TIPS!!  I’m like, um, Mr. Big, they have Q-tips in Switzerland.  Deodorant.  Please, Mr. Big, they have deodorant in Switzerland.  (Switzerland, yes, France, no).  Just kidding, French people!  BUT IT”S NOT MY KIND, TRAILING SPOUSE!!   

Right now, I’m going to sneak upstairs and take a picture of Mr. Big’s giant stash of hygiene products.  It’s unbelievable!  I’m going to go count his hair gel products alone.  I’ll bet he has enough to last until 2018.   Be right back.  OK.   25 tubes of hair gel.  He has more tubes of hair gel than he has hairs on his head!!!

He has eleven deodorants.  ELEVEN!!  How much deodorant do you need, stinky man?  His hoarding psychoses even extend to me.  He has started amassing travel-size Pantene hair products for me.  Mind you, I do not need these.  I buy and import the ginormous size.  And I buy one.  ONE.  One at a time.

However, should I ever run out, apparently, Mr. Big has got me covered, because, in a corner of the bathroom cupboard, I spy a bag of tiny Pantene shampoo and conditioners.  SEVENTEEN bottles.  Of a product I do not need or want!!  Some women get jewelry.  I get sample-sized hair supplies.

As long as we are airing our dirty laundry, I might as well confess that I have a cupboard here in Switzerland full of . . . Newport cigarettes.  Yes, in addition to my many, many other bad habits, I am an uninhibited, out-of-the-closet, unashamed smoker.  Shoot me.  Anyway, I have been smoking the same kind of cigarettes since I was 13 and my BFF’s big sister, Janet, taught me and my little pal how to smoke.  Thanks, Janet!  You have destined me to a life of ridicule and standing outside on frozen balconies indulging in my disgusting habit!  As soon as I am finished here, I am looking you up on Facebook and see if you have as many smoking-induced wrinkles on your dried-out-little-prune-of-a-face as I do.

Sorry, lost my head there for a moment.  So, to indulge my habit I have to have everyone who comes to visit me from America bring me two cartons of Newports.  In a box, not a soft-pack.  Not the long ones, the short ones.  Not only am I an evil smoker, I am a picky, evil smoker!  My friends and family know that it is the price they have to pay to have a Swiss vacation.  Two cartons of Newports.  Each.  No exceptions.  I live in fear for the day when I run out and have to start smoking the only menthol cigarette available in Europe, the dreaded Marlboro Greens.  That will be the day I quit.  It will also be the day I start to gain 50 pounds and become 3,000 times more nasty than I already am.  This is not a day Mr. Big looks forward to, so he enables me.  He sends money to the children before they come to visit to go and buy my cigs and schlep them over here.  The thought has also crossed my mind that he may be enabling my bad habit  with the secret hope that I kick the bucket early and he can trade me in for Elin Nordgren, who is available and at large over here in our neck of the woods, (no pun intended).

So, we are closet hoarders.  I feel much better now that I have exposed this neurotic tendency.  The rest of you can now feel free to chime in with a story of your own personal stash.  And, if any of you has a closet full of regular bleach that you are hoarding, I will pay good money for that shit.

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