Late-night routine not so routine

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Anyone who is part of an "old married couple" knows the ritual.

You watch that last late-night show -- Letterman, Leno, the 10 p.m. news ... whatever it is in your household -- and then someone says, "Whhhoooeee! It's after my bedtime" or some similar phrase.

Then it's time for each of you to begin your nightly ritual. There's a funny e-mail circulating about how, for women, that involves washing the last few dishes, darning a sock, packing the kids' lunches for the next day and whatnot. But what I'm talking about here is the nightly beauty ritual.

As of just a few months ago, my ritual took five times as long as The Other Half's. Gone are my young, single days when I was lucky to kick my shoes off and chase my assorted roommates out of the bathroom for 30 seconds so I could brush my teeth before collapsing.

Now I depart to my own bathroom each night -- what luxury! Then there's the electric toothbrush, the special flosser, the eye makeup remover, the exfoliating soap, the deep pore cleanser, the eyelid moisturizer, the all-over moisturizer, the occasional dot of acne cream here and there (I was TOLD that would end at some point -- yeah, right), the foot lotion and, finally, body cream on whatever other parts I can get moisturized before I give up and go to bed. And let's not forget the two kinds of vitamins and heartburn medicine that have to be gulped down, too.

The Other Half's bedtime beauty routine used to be washing his face and brushing his teeth. He'd be snoring by the time I crawled under the covers.

But as the days got longer, so did Mr. Half's ritual. I began to notice we were getting to bed at the same time -- sometimes he was even later! What the ... ?

I went into his bathroom to investigate and was shocked -- SHOCKED -- by what I discovered.

It was a large part of Clinique's men's line, plus tons of Nioxin products. Follicle Booster? Turnaround cream? I turned pale. My stomach was in knots. Could my husband of nine years be a ... METROSEXUAL??? I was reeling.

Where did he get this? His dad is the kind of guy whose medicine cabinet holds one beauty/hygiene product: Irish Spring soap.

Frankly, I blame "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" for all this nonsense. The Fab Five have taught our nation's straight men that they don't have to live with puffy eyes and bad hair. They've got construction workers using words like "product" and "zhurzhing." (That spelling might not be right, but apparently it's what you're supposed to do with the product to make your hair purposefully messy.)

So now there are two people in the house spending a lot of time and a small fortune on beauty. I guess we'll have to put off that new car.

At least I know what to get The Other Half for Christmas: a really good moisturizer. He'll love it.

Heidi Hall is a former managing editor of the Southeast Missourian who now lives in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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