Saturday, November 9, 2013

Long-Time Friendship Teetering Over Lack Of Guest Soaps, Respect

Dear Tazi:

Maybe I am being petty and maybe I am not, but I think my issue has more to do with respect for another person’s property than it does about the cost of soap. That’s right; soap.

Against my better judgment I hosted a few house-guests this past summer – old friends of my husband, “Barney and Betty”. The week of their arrival I scrubbed my house from top to bottom and made sure everything was shiny and clean. Since we only have one bathroom in my house, I put out extra towels – not guest towels, mind you, because I do not think I should have to spend good money on towels that won’t get used except for when I have overnight guests which is rare, but freshly washed clean towels for anybody’s use.

My guests used their towels once and then put them in the laundry, requiring me to put fresh towels out the next day which was an inconvenience for me, but a minor one that I allowed to pass. What upset me is that, at the end of the weekend, Betty threw out the fresh new bar of soap I had put in the bathroom. When I found it in the trash I asked who put it there and Betty replied that she did; she
thought she was doing the right thing by tossing “the guest soap” so I didn’t confuse it with my regular bar of soap. I explained to Betty that she did not toss “the guest soap” because there was no guest soap – that fresh bar of soap was for everyone to use. Betty shot me a look like she had just eaten something bad and choked out an “Oh”. That was all! No apology for throwing away an entire bar of soap!

It has been several weeks since their visit and I never received a thank you card from Betty thanking me for my hospitality, but my husband, “Fred”, just got off the phone with Barney who mentioned that they will be in town again for the holidays and would love to see us. I told Fred that I would never host them again after the way Betty acted, first throwing away a perfectly good bar of soap and then failing to thank me for my hospitality! Fred told me that it wouldn’t be a problem; that Betty and Barney would be staying at a hotel. The way Fred said this left me with suspicions as to why.

I pushed my husband into telling me what he knew but was not telling – it was obvious he was keeping a secret from me – and he broke down, telling me that Betty felt I was “unhygienic” and she had been “physically ill” over the idea of using someone else’s bar of body soap. Well! If Miss High and Mighty needs her own, personal bar of soap to scrub her nether bits than she can just stay at a hotel!

I have no desire to see Betty again; not until she apologizes to me for throwing out my soap and reacting like it was something contaminated when I told her that it was not her personal bar. Fred says I am making too big a deal out of things; that Betty and Barney were our guests and that I should have let them go on thinking that we had set a guest bar of soap out for them. He says when you really think about it, using someone else’s bar of body soap is a rather intimate act, and he can see why Betty would be upset. I say he is full of hogwash! A bar of soap is clean; it is an antibacterial agent that is used to clean the skin and kill germs, so it is not like you are going to catch some kind of disease off of it (and for the record I do not have any diseases!).

Fred has asked me to set aside my anger with Betty and forgive the slight of not sending a thank you note; that from her point of view it is she who deserves an apology. Have I broken some kind of rule of etiquette by not putting out guest soap? Or am I the wronged party here?


Dear Wilma:

I can see your point about soap being an antibacterial cleaning agent, but I can also see your husband’s point of view – that a bar of body soap is used to scrub our intimate places – so I can understand why Betty felt physically ill over the idea of your, ahem, “vajayjay” and “tuchus” snuggled up to the soap she is now lathering all over her body.   

The use of bath sponges (or “shower poofies” as my Mommie calls them) and liquid soaps and bath gels have largely overcome the issue of whether or not it is OK to share a bar of body soap with someone other than your intimate partner (hand soap is still OK). I am going to suggest that both you and Betty let the matter drop and pretend it never happened.

In the future, should you host house-guests, you may want to invest in a cheap bath sponge and a trial sized bottle of shower gel for your guests to use. As humans become more and more conscious of germs and how they spread, they are becoming more and more aware of the ways they come in contact with each other – and the communal bar of body soap is something that leaves a lot of people feeling unclean, no matter how much they scrub with it.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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