Category Archives: People

Homelessness, Heartache… and Hygiene

Before you read this post, read this:
Al Jazeera: Hygiene and Heartache

If you can’t be bothered to read that, don’t read this post.

HomelessGroupWithDogsFrancoFoliniOnFlickrHomeless Woman with Dogs, by Franco Folini on Flickr

The Al Jazeera article just made me cry, and I don’t do that much. Homelessness in all its forms is a concern of mine, but reading about what these women go through really got to me. On a day when I’ve been doing yard work and I get stinky, I can run inside and shower up real quick before work or before going out in public as a disgusting mess.

Maybe it’s because I’m one of those people — okay, one of those women — who is not the ideal of womanhood in that I sweat: I do not perspire gently or “glow.” I sweat and I stink, in all ways, all over — truly gross. I’ve warned my husband not to get too close to me at such times. I’ll never forget dragging out an old batch of T-shirts from the back of the drawer several years ago and thinking I should use them for yard work. They were clean, washed. I saw some GAPO on some of them and it prompted me to smell them. There was a lingering odor of old sweat washed many times. I was sitting on the floor with this pile of T-shirts around me, smelling the pits and wrinkling my nose. “Ugh. Eew. Ugh! Yuck. Really?”

Nitram walked into the room and gave me the side-eye. “What… are you doing?”

I handed him one of the T-shirts. “Smell this… in the armpit.”

He did, and made an appropriate face, handing it back to me with an odd look of —- dare I say it — almost pride, or some kind of weird respect on his face. “You — you are a force to be reckoned with.”

“I know! Gross, right?”

“Oh yeah.”

Thank heavens for tolerant husbands.

Thank heavens for our house, our warm shower, and all the daily things we take for granted that go along with that.

Homelessness comes with a myriad of problems generally inconceivable to most of us. This post in particular focuses on hygiene — female hygiene — but trust me, there are other and many more problems that are a daily concern to homeless people — hunger and warmth and health, to name a few. Respect any person would give another person they pass on the street — that’s a big one.

Another is homeless people who have pets. Maybe it’s a knee-jerk reaction, but I’ve heard so many people say things like, “They’re homeless, how they can afford to have a pet?” Or, so much worse, “They’re homeless — they don’t deserve to have a pet.”

Oh, really? If you even have to think about that one, well then: Fuck. You.

HomelessGroupWithDogsFrancoFoliniOnFlickrHomeless Group with Dogs, by Franco Folini on Flickr

As is often the case, women have a special sort of hell reserved for them in this instance: hygiene. (Women have the same hell reserved for them in regular life, too  — so many men haven’t a clue to what it takes to be one’s own definition of clean, much less a man’s definition of how a woman “should” be clean.) Men don’t bleed out of their genitals monthly, that’s one thing. Men don’t have to shave their pits to feel attractive. Nor do some women, but most of us still feel the need to do so. I’ve been shaving my pits since I was a teen, and if I let it go too long, the feeling of that crispy, growing bit of hair under my arms drives me crazy. I think: Ick, how do men live like that? Yuck! But it all comes down to what you’re used to in your life. And so many women are used to being at least somewhat smooth-skinned, and clean in their gennies.

SailorsPerformComminityServiceOfficalUSNavyPageCClicenseFemHygieneSailors Perform Community Service, Official U.S. Navy Page on Flickr

See, because it doesn’t matter if you just want to just keep clean, or what country you’re in, or how smelly you are or aren’t in your regular life, or if you’re male or female. It’s just a basic thing with homeless people that aside from those who have mental/emotional/psychological or other unimaginable problems that prevent them from taking care of the most basic of necessities for themselves, there are the others who are “like us.” Seriously: truly just like us, or your version of what “like us” means, but without a home or house — who quite literally do not have a fucking pot to piss in. Or a tampon or sanitary pad. Or toilet paper. Or access to a shower or other basic sanitary facility in which they don’t have to worry about being raped or disrespected in some way.

Don’t make me do your homework for you. See what kind of homeless assistance is available to you locally: it’s only a click away.

And if you feel a need to make a judgmental comment on homelessness in general in response to this post, you’re reading the wrong blog. So go back to FB and spout off there. Otherwise: Thank you.

You must be… (take your best guess)

Old school answering machine by aeminphilly on Flickr

I’ve been meaning to write (rant) about this for a while, but a friend’s WTF post over on FB about companies’ and people’s answering messages has re-inspired me.

These are the most common messages — from people who know me — that get left on my home answering machine:

“Hi, I guess you must be in the shower…” (It’s the middle of the day, I’m already showered, thanks.)

“Hi, I guess you must be asleep…” (It’s midmorning, I’ve been up for several hours.)

“Hello, I guess you must be eating dinner or something…” (Dinner? At 4 PM?)

“Hi, I guess you must be… out.” (Well, now, there’s a no-brainer.)

After getting one of these messages, what I sometimes fantasize about having as my outgoing message (other than Carl Kasell‘s voice) is something like, “Hi, I’m either out, in the shower, sleeping, eating dinner at 10 AM, picking my nose, or listening to you right now and not picking up. You just take your best guess from those possibilities and get back to me.”

Why do people feel the need to leave a guess as to your whereabouts and/or whatabouts? Why can’t they just leave a message? Preferably one with actual info in it rather than a guess or just some babble.

Why does this bother me so much? Because I don’t do it myself, and because I also have to listen to people do this in conversations, except they usually say “maybe” or “probably” more than “must be,” and they don’t usually feel the need to guess. I can say something as simple as, “She went to the store,” and get back something like, “Oh, she probably had to get there before it closed.” Well, yes. People do have to get to the store before it closes, if they want to buy anything and not just sit out there in the parking lot. Picking their noses. Or showering.

One and only one person is exempt from my freaking out over this because that person has Alzheimer’s — the fact that they did this all the time before they had Alzheimer’s is irrelevant now, they get a free pass.

None of the rest of you get a free pass.

Dexter in the Lunchroom

So over dinner the other night, Nitram was telling me stories about work. He misses Tim, who’s a real wiseass, and sounds like someone I’d like a lot, though I’ll never get to meet him now since he’s left for greener pastures.

“This guy Greg just does not stop talking, no matter what. I’m having a peaceful lunch, reading the paper, other people are having their own peaceful lunches — even Greg, for once — when Tim walks in and says, ‘Hey, Greg, tell us all about politics in New Jersey!’ and walks out! That bastard!”

Yes, I’d definitely like Tim.

“We’re all trying to eat and Greg’s forgotten about his lunch, he’s just going on and on and on — and no one’s listening! But that doesn’t make a difference to him, he just keeps going. Oh, I swear, I — if I was a serial killer, I’d, I’d… I’d kill him first!”

I burst out laughing. Nitram goes on about Greg and I can’t stop giggling. He gives me the what look, and I say, “That was really funny!”

“It was?”

“Yes! Did you make that up?”

“Make what up?”

“‘If I was a serial killer, I’d kill him first.'”

“I guess so, yeah. But it’s true.”

My mild-mannered, easygoing mate. He’s going to off some guy for talking too much in the canteen at work. Classic sociopath. Gotta love him.

chainsaw_massacre-16_smallWM

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