Pantene, you had me at: “Shampoo and Conditioner in One.” To me that mean half the time, half the risk of getting burny stuff in my eyes and half the number of bottles in the shower. That last bit is important. When you’re a guy, sharing a bathroom with your wife and teenage daughter, you don’t get much shelf space.
I first met Pantene® in a hotel. It seemed simple enough, saved some time and left what little hair I have left on my head feeling pretty good. Done. I don’t put a lot of time into evaluating personal cleansing products. Up until about 15 years ago, I had used the same soap, Safeguard™ since I was old enough to use big-people soap. It’s what my parents used. It got me clean. My wife didn’t like the idea of me washing with so many chemicals. In a unilateral action, she swapped out my bar of Safeguard™ for some green organic product cooked up in a cauldron deep in the woods of Maine (1). The stuff works fine. No use fighting over soap.
She doesn’t use Pantene®, but she hasn’t made a fuss over my using it. She will even buy it for me when she’s shopping, but she always asks me “what shampoo do you use?” when I tell her that I’m almost out. What shampoo? Pantene®. How hard is that to remember? (I would think, but never say).
Last week, I went to Target and I decided to restock my own toiletry items (you know, the Lent thing). I needed Pantene® and I needed dandruff shampoo. Yeah, it’s not bad enough that much off my hair is gone, the stuff that’s left still needs a hit of Head & Shoulders® now and then. And, yes, I’ve been using Head & Shoulders® since I was a kid too.
Confusion set in.
The first thing I was confused by was the fact that Head & Shoulders® and Pantene® aren’t in the same place in Target. Head & Shoulders® is in the “Men’s Hair Care” aisle and Pantene® is in the “Hair Products” aisle. What? Don’t women have dandruff? Maybe Head & Shoulders® is the Lava Soap of dandruff shampoos. A heavy-duty cleaner for a man’s dandruff. Maybe women use some ginger root dandruff shampoo with Aloe, coconut and fairy dust.
The second thing I was confused by, and the reason I have to think about apologizing to my wife for all those unsaid-but-still-snarky shopping comments, is that there is an entire section of Head & Shoulders® and there’s an entire Pantene® aisle in Target. There are 10 bazillion kinds of shampoo.
It took me several minutes to find the Head & Shoulders® product that I wanted. You know, the “Original Formula.” The old tried and true. The stuff I’ve been using since I was 12. It wasn’t labeled like that, but I found the “Classic Clean” variety. I bought the biggest bottle they had. If it came in a gallon bottle with a pump, I might have bought that so I’d only have to go through this process once a year. Plus, I’d have that full-on manly look. You know the kind of bottle that says “this is the kind of shampoo they use in the pit at Indy.”
Over in the Pantene® aisle, there was no “Classic Clean” version. In fact, there wasn’t even a version that said “Shampoo and Conditioner in One” on the bottle. “Repair and Protect” but not “Shampoo and Conditioner.” In fact, they now have “Shampoo” and “Conditioner” in two bottles, not one, and they have versions of those. “Clarifying” shampoo. “Lightweight” conditioner and so many other products that I couldn’t back up far enough to get the Pantene® section to fit in the wide angle version of my camera!
“It’s over Pantene. We had a good run but we need to see other people. It’s not you, it’s me. You want to grow. You want to achieve more, try new things, and scale new heights. I would just be holding you back.”
That might be what I said in the store, but inside my head, as with any good breakup, I was thinking:
“All our years together mean nothing to you. You’re willing to toss our history aside just so you can lather up your fancy female friends. Well, I don’t need you. I’ll find a good man’s shampoo. Something with pumice and wood pulp and harsh chemicals that’s tough enough for a man’s dirt.”
It’s not just shampoo. Everything comes in too many choices. It’s why shopping is such a hassle. If Pantene sold just the original, maybe an expanded flavor or two, Target could be the size of a 7-11 and we could be in and out in 15 minutes flat. I have pictures of chips, candy, crackers, salsa and cough drops. Cough drops! I remember when it was Ludens, Smith Bros. or Halls and if you ate the cherry ones too fast, your mom was sure to buy the black licorice variety the next time. Today, you need to be some sort of certified medical professional to self-diagnose the type of cough you have.
I’ll stop complaining. I could go on and on about all of those products. I’m sure. I’m so sure, that I created a category for this post. If this self-sufficient practice of mine hasn’t worn off by Memorial Day, prepare yourself for a Doritos rant. By the way, is there any harm in using dandruff shampoo every day or do I have to work with those folks up in Maine?
(1) According to my editor, the green stuff is Olive Oil soap and it’s made in Greece