Monday, April 13, 2009


When our children left home we installed a revolving front door. It is the same as those revolving doors you see as entrances to large department stores. The door provides access while keeping the weather out. It also makes it difficult for department store thieves who might want to sneak out something large like a Steinway piano under their coats.
We thought that a revolving door might limit the size of the furniture and and all the other junk that they would bring home as they revolved through the door over the decades - (Saying goodbye to your children is not called ‘The Long Goodbye’ for nothing.)

Of course like most parental strategies it didn’t work very well. One child returned and managed to drag through the revolving door a 747 jumbo jet and a concrete mixer. Another bought home 3 water beds, 20 kms of telephone cabling on a giant reel, a bus and a Russian nuclear submarine – I had high hopes about the submarine because as it squeezed through the door I heard voices inside. I thought that maybe it was crewed by an all female Russian crew who did belly dancing in their spare time. But it was an all male crew who sat around looking very gloomy, drinking copious quantities of vodka and farting a lot.

Our only daughter bought home her new boyfriend who is a trapeze artist with a circus. He had trouble getting the elephant through the door but the cute little Shetland ponies were a cinch. This particular boy friend had a particularly interesting tattoo. He had a large fox tattooed on his back. The fox was chasing a rabbit which was disappearing up his rectum. I know this because I saw the chase live as I opened the bathroom door at the same moment as the boyfriend decided to bend over and pick his toenails – “Sorry” he said, standing bolt upright as I entered the bathroom ( as you do in your own house) – “Can yer ken John Peel ? ” I enquired - as you do when confronted with a fox rampant chasing a frightened rabbit. “Jeez man you are a wag” he replied as he left to dress in my daughters bedroom. I must say he looked quite handsome in my dressing gown, its amazing how my clothes fit their friends.

All this might make you think that I am feeling a little cynical about my children continuing to revolve as they evolve into adults. Well not really. Who am I to make judgements about how my children wish to behave in my house, such sentiments are sooooooo last century.

Seriously, I have no problem with all of this – but I do with the next part of my story.

I am a very clean individual. I shower every day. I wash myself and shampoo my hair. It is a simple ablution in a simple setting. One shower head, one shower tap to turn the water on with and one plastic shower bottle. I use VO5 Volume boost shampoo – not that moi needs a volume boost but hey baby if you have got it (hair that is) why not flaunt it – but I digress.
When my daughter starts using the shower, life gets complicated. The floor of the shower becomes covered with a multitude of bottles. Many of these look exactly like my own bottle of shampoo. There is Schick Skin Protect, St Ives Apricot Scrub, Garnier Fructis (whatever the fuck that is), Schwarzkopf Colour Protect Conditioner, Pumice Foot Scrub ( where do they get the pumice? hold nets over active volcanoes?).

Now my problem with all this is that as I find myself confronted with all these plastic bottles, and being aged 57 and one half I forget which is my bottle of shampoo. And because the print is so small on the bottles and I am in the shower without my glasses on I can’t read any of the print on the bottles. So I fumble around like a wet 57 and one half year old naked man in a shower exclaiming very politely about my inability to read the fine print under a deluge of water.

But just as for every rabbit there is a hole and for every cloud there is a silver lining, there is for every bottle of shampoo with unreadable words a business plan.

There are many millions of parents around the world who endure in the shower what I endure so this is what I intend to do.

I shall market a range of my own shampoo. The bottles shall have the words SHAMPOO written on them in very LARGE letters. My shampoo shall be marketed under the brand name FOXY. It will have a little poem under the word 'Shampoo' that states – “Look Foxy and make your hair as soft as a Rabbits” – It will have a picture of a fox rampant, chasing a rabbit that is disappearing down the shampoo bottles spout.

I shall of course become a multi billionaire. As an act of whimsy I will probably buy the brewery that makes the best sailing beer in the world - the Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam. In fact I might buy the whole of the Netherlands, up anchor it, sail it to New Zealand and moor it off the coast. Jeez when you have lots of money why should you go all that way just for a bloody beer.


Janice said...

Oh Alden, excellent, I laughed hard at what you wrote!! Partly because of your hilarious style, and partly because I have a revolving door of my own. A couple of years ago, my yooungest, who is about to turn 37, managed to sneak back in with a girlfriend in tow, and I didn't get rid of them for about 8 months, by using a special spray that I found. It's called Kidsbegone, and if I hadn't found it, I would have had to invent it. That, or murder them both, as they were clinging like limpets. I am watching the door diligently these days as he is about to become a father, and I'm damned if I want him sneaking a small bundle in with him that he doesn't remove when he leaves. He is, unfortunately, an Aries, (really poor planning on my part!), so I don't expect him to grow up any time soon, and I must be vigilant. lest he get his size elevens under the table again. I'm thinking that when we move to Comox we'll do it on the quiet. and not tell him where we've gone, although some well meaning relative will probably rat us out.

I love your idea for the shampoo, I would buy it, just so I could see what it said. While you are at it, could you design a bottle that isn't shaped like a torpedo, one that doesn't shoot out of my hand when I pick it up? My God, they can send a man to the moon! I actually heard a joke about that that I will leave you with: If they can send one man to the moon, why can't they send them all?

Hey, I came across your name when I was looking at names for the new baby. Did you know that it meant half-Danish? Are you?

Alden said...

Janice my take on all of this kids for the return home business is this - downsize your house so that it is physically impossible for them to return - unless of course they are very resourceful and end up pitching a tent on your front lawn - which in time puts the pressure on local councils after complaints from neigbours - so the problem becomes someone elses - The other strategy is to win the Lottery and buy them all houses of their own.

I laughed about your torpedo shampoo bottle - its a metaphor on much of todays life isn't it? - Form before Function!

Sending all men to the moon is of course an interesting idea but have a bit of sympathy for the moon!!!

I am a fifth generation New Zealander whose ancestors come from England, Ireland and Scotland. On my fathers side my lineage goes back to the Gunn Clan in Scotland and a character called Olaf the Black who is obviously from somewhere in Scandinavia.

I am named after the American yacht designer John G Alden. My understanding of Alden is that the name is Old English and means Old Friend ----- Your Danish connection intrigues me and I would be interested in any more information about that.

Earl and Vickie said...

My wife shampooed her hair THREE times yesterday because she couldn't read the print on the bottles and was trying for the cream rinse..... I've been married long enough to know that one does NOT make suggestions in situations like this, you know, like, "Maybe if you only had one bottle of shampoo and one bottle of cream rinse it wouldn't be such a problem....." Right. Lets not go there. I had a really hard time not busting out laughing though at the three shampoo tries.

Alden said...

Thankyou for the comments Earl.

The print size is a problem - with the brand of Shampoo I use, the Shampoo and the Conditioner bottles are exactly the same shape, size and colour - the only difference is the fine print - I have bought Conditioner twice when really wanting Shampoo merely because the print is too small and I haven't looked carefully enough -

All of this is a very small problem of course compared to the world's debt and global warming, but where would we all be without nice shiney shampooed hair I hair you ask? Well we would all be bald of course... hmmmm I feel a blog story coming on hair.

Janice said...

Speaking of metaphors, and torpedos, the remote for our new tv is also shaped like one. It was the darndest thing, because the volume control and the channel changer kept switching sides so that when I expected to turn it up, the channel would change, and the next time I tried, things would be back to normal. I got so annoyed with this that I mentioned it to my husband. He looked at the remote, and said that I was holding it upside down! And of course, there were the two controls, dead in the middle of this thing, so who could tell which way was up? I felt completely stupid, and he had a good laugh, which God knows he ceserved as I laugh at him all the time.

It must be nice to know your lineage so far back; I am of Irish/Danish/Dutch/First Nations descent, but can't go very far back except on the Irish side, they were very early settlers (1600's) in the United States.
I'll see if I can find out where they came up with the meaning of yur name.

Alden said...

Janice I think TV remotes were designed by aliens as a sort of private joke amongst themselves. I know of no human being who can use or understand the higher functions; the people who can are actually aliens in disguise.

Kathryn said...

So Alden (Old Friend), I would like to purchase your shampoo bottle with the LARGE PRINT label. Although I also sympathise with your daughter because I have several bottles in my shower and they are very difficult to tell apart without spectacles sitting on your nose. I've tried wearing my glasses in the shower but it doesn't work.

I defeated my children years ago in the revolving door caper - I left first. They were not happy when I used the revolving door to come back.

And I wonder why Janice thinks it unfortunate that her son is an Aries? I too, am an Aries, and have just had my 57th birthday. When someone asked, I had to work out how old I am now, because I actually hadn't thought about my age - I was just looking forward to my party, my presents and my Easter eggs. :-)

Alden said...

Well happy Birthday to you. You are almost a year younger than me Kathryn as I am 58 this June.
You were obviously a clever clogs at Aranui High School all those years ago being a year younger and a class grade (3PA to my 3PB) higher than me - also innovative for trying your glasses in the shower and for moving out before your kids - good on you for cramping their style by moving back - thats what parents are for.

I don't believe in Star signs much but I believe your statement

" I was just looking forward to my party, my presents and my Easter eggs. :-)"

This statement tells me a lot more than a star sign. It tells me that even though you have just turned 57you can still look on the simple things in life with a childlike outlook and thats gotta be good!

Kathryn said...

I might have been a 'clever clogs' but I wasn't the only one. We have a mutual friend, whose name also begins with a 'K' who is just 2 days younger than I am!

Also its quite difficult to see in the shower when your glasses are fogged up :-) so I wouldn't bother trying that one.

Katherine said...

Wonderful post, fab idea about the shampoo label. Trouble is, when you tow the Nederlands, the bow wave will slosh over the dykes and the whole country will sink before you've even got through the Channel...

Apart from that, it's a great idea. I'd love my Dutch friends to be closer - I know! - perhaps if you floated it on 44 gal drums, or those polystyrene fish boxes from the supermarket - and when you get here, winch it up over Northland, so when the sea level rises it (Nederlands) will be safe, thus killing two birds with one stone.

Katherine said...

PS I once read that if you really want your children to stay away (as in, once they are 35+) all you have to do is wander naked through your own house after your shower.
It doesn't solve the problem of all the junk they deposit, however.

Alden said...

Katherine you are quite right about towing and sinking - but I intend to place a huge mast on the Nederlands and sail it out here - the whole country is a bit like a yacht really as such a lot of it is actually below sea level - just like a yacht hull.

Your idea of wandering nude throught the house is brilliant and of course at the same time one could play seriously uncool music (I have heard they are doing this in shopping malls where they are having trouble with youth behaviour, play classicl music and they stay away in droves) :-)

Katherine said...

Uncool music! A stroke of genius! Apparently I have plenty of that and don't even need to resort to things I cannot bear to listen to.
Pal, you are my hero.

Alden said...

Katherine - go and see the movie 'The Boat That Rocked' and like me I think that you will be reminded of something you already know - that every generation is both cool, uncool, naff and brilliant all at the same time - its a great feel good movie that plays a lot of our generations very very uncool music - bugger wish my foot would stop tapping.