What is soap, really?
From childhood we are raised to use it to a point where we rarely stop to think about what it really means anymore. But there is a dark side to soap, and, in it, there is a lesson we would all do well to remember.
My earliest memory of soap took place in my grandmother’s New York home back before I was old enough to cross the street without looking both ways.
I was told to take a bath, and whether as some incentive to insure my compliance or just because my parents were supportive of early bouts of television addiction, the soap had been purchased with special consideration towards the intended soap-ee.
The package contained three separate bars, all molded into the shape of my then (and always) heroes, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Their masks stared through the plastic film at me, flaunting their awesomeness. The three Rangers depicted were the white, red and pink rangers.
As bars of soap, they, of course, weren’t the size of the actual masks I would surely don when I became old enough for Zordon to recruit me, but they were the perfect size to complement my 5-year-old mug.
I looked upon them with the reverence of Tim Burton gazing into the celestial smile of Johnny Depp. Any resistance to this bath was out of the question, as I’d been gifted the most regal of luxuries.
But when the bath started, that’s when it happened. I settled into the bubbly waters of the tub, splashing about without a care in the world. I’d finally made it. I was finally somebody. I was going to bathe with Power Rangers brand soap.
Then it went horribly wrong.
I chose the red ranger from the package. Any true fan will understand – Tommy was the white ranger, and Tommy was the single coolest human being ever to have existed, so obviously Tommy was going to be saved for last.
The pink ranger was cool and all, but let’s be real. Kimberly was for girls. I’d probably someday bestow that particular bar of soap on my wife. Or maybe we’d split ownership. Or …we’d talk then.
But the point is, I had naturally chosen Jason to break forth from this box of soap first. Jason, who was the first leader of the rangers, but, being no match for the sheer perfection of Tommy as green or white ranger, had moved into the loyal best friend role, the brooding tough guy position opposite the leadership of the white ranger.
I was handed the red ranger bar of soap. I immediately flipped it around to position the mask in front of my face, and I felt a sense of purpose and accomplishment like nothing I’d ever felt before or have ever felt since.
But when the red ranger bar of soap finally touched the water, my joy began to deteriorate and break away. Happiness was jettisoned by the swirling currents of reality.
Bliss rubbed off from a pristine, crystalized form to a flat, red half-egg of not ranger face. I looked on in horror as the bath took what I had treasured most from me.
The terror of that day stays with me as I type this between heaving sobs and Alfred Hitchcock-style flashbacks. But as I look up at the faces of the white and pink ranger, perfectly preserved and professionally lit in a bullet-proof, temperature-controlled case above my bed, I know there is a truth in this life that can only be taken from an experience like mine.
Soap doesn’t last forever. Eventually it is overused, broken down and mangled to a point beyond recognition, until it becomes a tired, slimy mass that we cast into the garbage to never be looked at again.
Just like our dreams.
Ranger M is a martial arts major from Mighty Morphin, Calif.