The Eye introduces Ogle: a new series dedicated to celebrating the everyday and the ordinary.
Ogle: Butler Soap
My first time at Ferris Booth Commons seemed like the perfect introduction to Columbia University. Hungry students sported apparel plastered with the school’s name, eager club members on the Lerner zig-zag ramps enticed passersby with donuts, and “Diane Young” by Vampire Weekend blared from the speakers. “Wow,” I thought, “this is college.”
In the coming weeks, I continued to have experiences like this. My fellow transfer students and I swapped the knowledge we’d explicitly asked for or quietly acquired ourselves: “Claim your spot at the library,” “No, the library is not the one behind Low Steps,” “Eat the carrot cake at Hewitt.” But one nugget of wisdom perplexed me: “Smell the soap in Butler Library.”
What? “Smell the soap in Butler Library”? What was so special about it? Yes, I know that Lush and L’Occitane and the like have made it their mission—their life’s work!—to make the lowly soap bar prestigious enough to rival designer bags, shoes, and clothes. But, I thought, wasn’t soap just soap, a utilitarian object intended to liberate your skin from the grit and grime and grease of New York City? The final step of your study break at Butler, before dragging yourself back to 209 or 301 or 404 or 603?
I thought wrong.
The soap in Butler Library is extraordinary. It’s fresh. It’s clean. It smells like a Lemonade Capri Sun with hints of Limeade or SunnyD. Who would’ve thought that in a building bursting with enlightening books, it’s the soap that nourishes.
In the shiny black canister—it’s shaped like an alien head emoji—you can see a clear bag filled with the yellowish liquid. The little capsule proudly displays its organs. When it oozes into your wet hands, it’s like honey or molasses: sluggish. It gets smoother and slipperier as it moves around on your skin, until, sadly, exhausted bubbles begin to appear.
While scrubbing, my eyes wander to the soap’s signage: “Employees Must Wash Hands Before Returning to Work,” and “If out of soap, please call 212-854-2222.” Do the employees of Butler take this not as a command but a welcome invitation, considering the astounding quality of the soap at hand? Can the soap hotline deliver to your dorm room? Has anyone abused this potentially Seamless-like service?
Perhaps I will be the first.
Ogle: Pill Organizer
“Live, Laugh, Love” signs. “Keep Calm and Carry On” spoofs. While both celebrate—command, even—some important parts of life, these mass-produced mantras are slowly taking over the world, or the dorm-room decorating world, at least.
That’s why, when I entered college, I refused to put them on my walls. No, thank you—I would rather stare at the Command Strip residue on my otherwise blank, peeling walls. I opted for a few lanterns and, for my desk, a photograph of my family. Clean. Simple. But there was one more addition.
In the section before the checkout counter at The Container Store, in between the salad dressing holders, the toothbrush protectors, the Tide To Go Stain Remover pens; across from the carabiners, the even larger carabiners, and the so-large-you’d-never-even-use-it carabiners; under the cord organizers, chip clips, and salty snacks, lies a pill organizer.
It is cherry red and lemon drop yellow. About the height of a very well-stuffed sandwich, the pill organizer is so shiny, it’s as if it has been dipped in a saline solution or a sugary syrup. Lacquered and luscious, it attracts the weary customer’s eye. It is the ultimate impulse buy.
And true to the ultimate impulse buy, it’s also useless.
It lacks the organization of traditional pill organizers, bearing no markings of weekdays or times of day. There is no timer designed to limit your pill consumption. It’s a free-for-all piece of eye candy.
Pills roll and tumble and fly, get trampled and crushed and mixed up, get so intimate with the metal wall that they taste like mints kept next to pennies.
This “organizer” entices you and your medications with its beautiful exterior and later—when you really need it—reveals its vicious, hostile womb.
When you use the slightest force to sever the embrace of the red and yellow halves, there is a satisfying pop, like when you smack your lips apart after drinking a refreshing pop.
The red-and-yellow-painted metals glide against one another until each half is free—undoubtedly scattering your pills and negating its ostensible purpose.
Reasons I embrace my manual toothbrush and do not succumb to the glitzy and glamorous world of its electric counterpart:
- It’s quiet—it doesn’t sound like I’m gurgling a wind-up toy in my mouth.
- When it’s completed its service, it joins the ranks of my kitchen scrubbing tools.
- My dentist includes it in my party favor bag, a reward for letting her pry my mouth open and tinker around for an hour. This is a small plastic bag stuffed with a tube of toothpaste so small I think it was part of a rejected mockup for an American Girl product, a morsel of floss that she and I both know I will never open, and—when I was younger—a tightly wound, multi-colored plastic choker, the sort that has made a comeback in recent years.
- I can tell it’s mine, because of the color. I don’t have to remember the exact shade of the annoyingly small ring that snaps on the toothbrush head to distinguish it from my friends’ electric toothbrushes.
- I’m a luddite.
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