It’s my time. I’ve accepted it. I’m ready to go. My final moments with you have arrived, sweet, economical Maria. You see, within my plastic receptacle there is currently not enough lotion to be considered a soupçon, I promise you. At this point, I couldn’t provide the amount needed to moisturize the pinched tip of Natalie Portman’s nose. I am, as we say in the toiletry biz—empty. You must move on, emotionally and physically, to a new sixteen-ounce container of Cetaphil “Daily Advance,” a container that can give you what I no longer can: “relief and protection for up to twenty-four hours.”
When you initially inserted me, nearly four weeks ago, nozzle first, into a box of tissues—which I now know was so I’d remain upended—I thought that maybe I’d retired. I wondered if the inside of a tissue box was West Palm Beach for pump bottles. Would I no longer be required to battle gravity, compelling my blend of shea butter and vitamin E upward through my svelte cylinder, releasing hydration into your exquisitely supple eighty-year-old hands? Could I permanently relax? Sleep late? Grow a beard? Delight in the cushiony darkness of this cardboard cube of Puffs Ultra Soft, free from responsibility?
No. You were not done with me. You knew I had more to give. You knew I still had value. You, dearest Maria, were determined. You were not discouraged merely because my dispenser no longer provided easy access, my duct no longer transported your daily dose of precious emollient, convenience had ceased. You had invested almost twelve dollars of your hard-earned dividends and weren’t about to waste perfectly good skin nourishment.
I once overheard you tell your imperious, middle-aged son—who would mutter, “You’re still here?” whenever visiting the master bathroom of your sky-high luxury co-op, noticing my bottom sticking out of the handcrafted rattan tissue box holder, as though I was mooning him—that according to Consumer Reports, “approximately twenty-five percent of moisturizer remains in the bottle after the pump stops conveying.” Then you said to your spoiled only child who regularly scoffs at your industrious frugality: “Can you afford to throw away twenty-five percent of your moisturizer, moneybags? Because I can, but I won’t, because I’m thankful for what I have and I know that there are people less fortunate than me who live in apartment buildings with only part-time doormen who maybe can’t bear the expense of Cetaphil ‘Daily Advance’ and maybe have to settle for Jergens ‘Ultra Healing,’ which is less than half the price and definitely not recommended by dermatologists.” Preach!
Quite frankly, why should anyone, including your wasteful offspring, care what you do with your verging-on-barren health and beauty products? For weeks I’ve been overturned with all of this enduring superior cream sliding down the sides of my vessel, rushing to my spout. And, although I’ve fainted twice, it’s been worth any discomfort or embarrassment because you’ve encouraged me to reevaluate myself as The Little Pump Bottle That Could: “I think I can, I think I can revitalize your elbows, shins, and knees, despite having contributed the vast majority of my resources, despite less than ten percent of my assets scarcely reachable.” You refused to pity me; instead, every morning, after you’d showered, and every night, before delighting in a rerun of “Frasier,” with dramatic commitment you would remove my pump, flip me over, shake me, hit me, as if to lament: “I wish I knew how to quit you!”
If I’m being totally honest, whenever you’d put your beautifully manicured fingers inside me to search for stubborn ointment, caressing my interior, I’d become aroused. Occasionally there’d be cream clinging to the exterior of my tube and you’d gently fondle the slender shaft—one stroke up or one stroke down—and I’d wonder: “Did I just get a hand job?”
No one will ever expect more from a bottle of moisturizer. You’re a tiger mom. Oy, the pressure. There were days I was sure that I’d been depleted, that you’d drained me, and I wanted to scream: “This isn’t a womb! I can’t reproduce fresh, new hand and body lotion! Basta!” But somehow you’d manage to extract more, more glycerin, more macadamia nut oil, more vitamin B5, more hydrogenated polyisobutene—whatever the fuck that is. But now there is in fact no more. I mean it. I have no more moisturizer in me, Maria. I’m fairly confident.
Don’t hate me. Just accept that I’m finished, exhausted, used up, like an old whore who’s ready to rest in peace—or, in my case, be recycled in peace. Release me, Maria. Surrender. It’s okay to grieve. You may want to create a support system. (Not including your son, obviously.) Keep calm. Allow yourself time to heal, while restoring, fortifying, and enhancing with the brand new bottle of Cetaphil “Daily Advance” in the storage cabinet under the sink, the one you’ve been avoiding. That mint condition bottle won’t be me—although its clinically proven ingredients are exactly the same—but I’m sure it’ll fill the void, along with filling your skin cracks, offering the same instant soothing and comfort I’ve been providing for months. But that unexploited, virgin bottle still won’t be me, right?
Goodbye, Maria. Remember me. Celebrate me. Get a pet.