Choosing shampoo is difficult.
It involves locating an appealing
bottle, plucking it from the shelf
and squeezing the flexible plastic
just enough to push the scent
toward my nose. Cherry blossom,
one bottle says, orange ginger,
citrus honey bergamot. God,
I’m so predictable, for so long
I keep trying to smell like oranges
or flowers, only certain ones,
magnolias, roses. Never vanilla
or apple or raspberry. Another woman
stands beside me in the aisle,
lifts a bottle to her nose, grimaces.
In junior high, us girls would stand
like this before our lockers, spraying
CK1 and Vanilla Fields onto our throats
and brushes, brushing it through
our hair that the kid behind us in
social studies would catch a hint
of sugar in the air, would breathe in
deeply behind us as if in a bakery.
Mostly, we smelled ourselves, traded
bottles, tried out being the girl
who smelled like sandalwood
or coconut or pink grapefruit.
Labels talk to us of sensations,
of bliss. Bottles promise volume
or shine or rejuvenation, and I
hear myself thinking, What kind
of hair do I have, do I need this
conditioner for dry and damaged
hair, have I been washing my hair
wrong my whole life, I actually need
oomph or control or everyday balance.
Who has not been immobilized
by choice. Buying products forces us
to consider who we are, what we lack.