I am a man. I am proud to say that I went to Bath & Body Works today—more on this in a moment.

It was raining again today. I was a bit bummed by the weather but I didn’t let it keep me indoors all day. After moping around the house for a few hours in the morning, I grabbed Andre (my Norwegian roommate) and we headed for the hills. Our plan was to go hiking in the rain—and we were prepared for it, GORE-TEX and all.

We were following some sketchy directions up into the woods somewhere along a logging trail. We stopped to ask some workers what time the gate would close—they told us they were closing it in about 15 minutes. We spent 12 of those minutes driving further up the mountain, and the following 3 minutes racing back down. We made it back before the gate closed.  But we hadn’t had enough, so we started off on another adventure.

This time we drove up to an overlook somewhere outside of Mission, BC. I was looking forward to this hike because it would be nearly 2,000 feet vertical, which is much more of a hike than anything I’ve seen in a while. However, my anticipation was to be short-lived. As we were nearing our destination I remembered that I was supposed to go to Bath & Body Works…

Okay, so I’m a pushover. The girls found out on Saturday that I was planning on going into the States on Monday and they started talking about Bath & Body Works. To be honest (and yes, I’m being perfectly honest) this was the first time I’d heard of Bath & Body Works. I don’t feel bad about this because I am sure that about 70% of the guys I know have never heard of it either.

Well, it turns out that this Monday wasn’t the same as any other Monday. No, this Monday was special—it was the Bath & Body Works sale, and some holiday for a president or something…. And since I was going to the States, they asked me if I’d be willing to pick up some things from Bath & Body Works for them. I resisted for a while, but to no avail. I finally gave in and agreed.

“Okay, just let me know what you want, and I’ll pick it up.”

The list was six pages long….

I was supposed to purchase items like Anti-Bacterial Deep Cleansing Hand Soap, in Warm Vanilla Sugar “if they don’t have Cotton Blossom.”

“Be sure you get the Moisturizing Hand Soap, not the Gentle Foaming Hand Soap,” Alicia said.

“Right—of course.”

“Also get the Aromatherapy Body Wash, Relax—Eucalyptus Spearmint if it’s $5. It should be $5, but if it’s not, don’t get it.”

“Okay.”

“These items here are for me. I just want one of each, and they’re all the Moisturizing Hand Soap.  Season and I each want one of these, so that’s two.  And Season wanted four of the Gentle Foaming Hand Soap, but I don’t want any of those.  Oh, and Season wanted an Odwalla Vanilla Almondo juice.  Got that?”

“Yeah.”

Okay, so that was a lie, but I figured that between the list and my cell phone I should be able to get this figured out. I went and grabbed my passport. On my way out the door, I remembered something fairly important.

“Season,…” I hollered down the hall toward their room. “Where is Bath & Body Works?”

So, off I went to the States. I was thinking to myself, “What do I say to the immigration officer when he asks my reason for going to the US? He’ll never believe me. He’s never heard of Bath & Body Works—I’m gonna get locked up!”  Fortunately, the only question he asked was what year my truck was, and if I liked it….

Upon entering the store I was greeted by a variety of expressions ranging from shock to sympathy. Some of the customers looked at me as if to ask if I were lost, or if I knew which store I was in. The clerks looked very sympathetic. I decided to see how many items I could find without drawing too much attention to myself by asking for help.

The walls were all covered with hundreds upon hundreds of pastel-colored bottles.  I looked at the list and began searching for what I needed by shape—“square bottle with a pump on top…square bottle, square bottle….” Then I spotted the square bottles—they were about 1/2-way into the store. But I wasn’t comfortable going that far into this store yet, so I decided to find the round bottle first—they were closer to the exit.

According to my list, whatever was in the round bottle was called Aromatherapy-something, so I started searching for round bottles that said Aromatherapy. After some time of searching, I came to the conclusion that all round bottles in the store said Aromatherapy. I then began searching for which round Aromatherapy bottle contained Body Wash. It didn’t take me as long this time to realize that all round Aromatherapy bottles in Bath & Body Works were Body Wash. I decided to try and find which Aromatherapy Body Wash bottle was Relax—Eucalyptus Spearmint. This time I found what I was looking for. Although I double-checked the name, and it matched perfectly, there was a little voice in my head telling me that this wasn’t what Alicia had asked for.

The next item on the list was a square bottle with a pump on top…. Feeling confident with my success thus far, I walked further into the store to the square bottles. Anti-Bacterial Moisturizing Hand Soap, Pink Grapefruit was first on the list. I figured it was safe to assume that all square bottles with a pump on top were Anti-Bacterial. Once I confirmed that these were Moisturizing Hand Soap, I began searching for Pink Grapefruit. After searching for several minutes, I determined that either Pink Grapefruit wasn’t pink, or they didn’t have it. Then I decided to try reading them. Sure enough, the third one I read said it was Pink Grapefruit. For those of you looking for Anti-Bacterial Moisturizing Hand Soap, Pink Grapefruit, it’s orange—small detail.

Out of the corner of my eye I recognized a shape I’d seen on the list. It was an up-side-down squeeze-bottle. “That might be one of the items,” I thought to myself. I quickly flipped through the list to locate the item, then I compared them. Anti-Bacterial, “yup.”  Moisturizing Lotion, “yep.” Coconut Lime Verbena. “What on earth is Verbena?

“Wait a minute—this is Moisturizing Hand Lotion. The list said Moisturizing Lotion. I’m sure they’re the same…but what if they’re not? I’d better check—I’ll get that later.”

Anti-Bacterial Moisturizing Hand Soap, Warm Vanilla Sugar (ONLY IF COTTON BLOSSOM IS UNAVAILABLE) was the next item. Thus far, I had two items in my hand.

Fortunately one of the clerks took notice of this pitiful sight.

“Can I help you?”

The words came to my ears like water to the thirsty, like food to the hungry, like hope to the despondent, like…. Well, you get the point.

“YES!” I replied almost before she finished the question.

I showed her the list, and she quickly gathered the items. I was quite impressed at how well she knew the products. I think I better understand how girls feel when I’m talking about computer components and technology. Though, if I had to choose, I’d rather understand technology than lotion—even if it is Exotic Coconut.

“I suppose this happens quite often—you get guys in here that are totally out of their league.”

“Oh, yes, guys come in here all the time with lists.”

So, I want to make this point known to all the girls out there. You are loved! I know you don’t understand how it could be so difficult for a guy to do something like this. I’m not sure I understand, but for some reason it is. I don’t know any guy that would do this for me. I don’t want any guy to do this for me….

They didn’t have a couple of the “flavors,” so I called back to the house and worked out some acceptable replacements. I purchased the items and walked out to my truck. The bag loudly proclaimed Bath & Body Works across the side. I was not embarrassed—I was proud that I had been victorious—I mean, successful.

Season and Alicia called me back shortly thereafter. “Thank you so much! We just wanted to let you know that we appreciated this so much that we wanted you to take the leftover money and buy yourself a Soy Steamer.”

Who could have ever convinced me that one day I would be living such an extraordinary life? Does everyone think life is so extraordinary? Will life ever lose it’s mystery and surprise? How much longer will I be doing Bible work? Should I go back to college? Should I plan my future? Would that make my life ordinary? And what is Verbena? For right now, I’m not sure. For right now, I’ll just have to wonder.

This article has 6 comments

  1. Jason Williams

    Brandon,
    This is definitely my favorite of your blog posts, or anything that I’ve read by you… I remember you giving me this to read this summer… I laughed pretty hard… knowing exactly how the situation was at RL.
    Jason

  2. skime

    And to think that for almost 6,000 years humanity has existed without Eucalyptus Spearmint Aromatherapy Soothing Sugar Scrub. (Or, without very much at all in the way of soap, for that matter.)

    Just love your writing style. Keep it coming.

  3. joar andré

    bro – i miss the talks, the tacoma, and the hikes!! have you done any runs down to bath & body works this year?

  4. Brandon

    Thanks guys.

    I’m glad for soap – and so is everyone that’s seen me after a camping trip!

    The interesting thing is that nobody I know actually uses the stuff – they just buy it to give as gifts…

    No Bath & Body Works runs, André. I miss those days too (not the Bath & Body Works trips, but the 4x4ing and talks). I wish you were going to be here for spring break bro – I’m going out to Vancouver Island to be a bum. Just me and my backpack, no vehicle. Ten days, we’ll see if I last…

  5. Lisa Hing

    Oh my goodness Brandon, I am literally laughing out loud right now and think I just woke up my niece in the next room! Since you sent me that email link I’ve been sitting here skimming through your blogs and OBVIOUSLY the Bath and Body Works caught my eye. I can literally HEAR Alicia and Season giving you “the list”!! Too funny! P/S Verbena is a herbaceous plant, I think it’s used to make oil too which is supposed to be extremely good for the skin.