In the bathroom closet is a brass bowl full up with little cakes of soap. They are irregular shaped from once or twice use; they are wrapped in torn off bits of toilet paper or Kleenex. These are the remnants of cakes collected from countless hotel bathrooms. At the end of a hotel stay, as I make rounds doing  a last check for left-behind objects, I wrap up the gently used soap cakes and take them with me.  I see it a terrible waste otherwise.  As a consequence I don’t think I’ve bought soap from a grocery store in years. As soon as the cakes are used up, some other trip with a hotel stay happens to replenish my supply. 

I am not fussy about soap. I don’t take truck in fancy types. These little cakes, usually white or beige, seem sufficient for getting off the grime. I am one to try to compact soap remnants into a Frankenstein-like cake so as to not waste the slivers.  

Once in a while a hotel provides no bars but liquid body wash. Sometimes at Christmas time I get a bottle of such.  They do the job but  they don’t supply the satisfaction of lathering up a cake while rubbing it up and down your contours. There is an amusement to recall that old chestnut of a joke while bending over to retrieve dropped soap. One doesn’t get this mirth from shower gel. 


I said I am satisfied with basic soap but that’s not entirely true. I am a sucker for brightly coloured cakes with fancy stripes and patterns. They usually come with exotic names and aromas. Nothing brightens up the morning ablutions  as seeing among the grayness of bathing tools a brilliant green or blue cake redolent of ‘ocean’ or ‘mint’. They are usually made by hippie-types and sold at street fairs. Someone doesn’t like aromatic soap. If he just walks into a soap store this evokes headaches in the man so he stays out while I go in and stick bars up my nose. 

Someday during a travel drought I will run out of both types of soap and I will be forced to buy some at Albertson’s. I suppose I will get Irish Spring if they still make any. I recall from the television commercials if you use Irish Spring you feel as if you are showering outdoors with a dirty Irishman. This is worth the price of all the soap in all the Marriotts that ever ever was.