Three weeks ago you came into our lives from the local Fred Meyer, your label redolent of simpler times, your frosted plastic bottle hinting at the orange bounty therein. Since then you’ve selflessly contributed cleanliness and good smell to me every day, but I’m afraid one more douse of shower water–even with your cap off–yielded none of your essence this morning. This was not a surprise as during the past week you’ve seemed less and less your vibrant, sudsy self. After much debate, we decided to put you down in the recycle bin this afternoon, retiring you with the cardboard, tin cans and random paper-y trash, where you’ll rest until the garbage man comes on Wednesday.

How faithfully you sat on the bath tub rim waiting for me every morning! So stoic. A loyal servant, you. Those first few days I remember fondly. The heft of you–there is no other word for it–sitting dollop-like in my hand just before I applied you to my scalp. Your richness adhered perfectly to my thinning coif. This, of course, was before I left your cap off and shower water got into…but let’s not talk about that on a day like this.

Remember the time I ran out of body wash? I didn’t know what to do. But there you were, lid flap up, ready to pull double duty. My wife always found your scent appealing.

I can’t help but apologize for those middling days when I was late for work. I took you for granted, my little Vo-Vo, rubbing you into my hair without a thought to your finer qualities. But you never complained. One reassuring squeeze everyday was all you asked for, and sometimes, when my hair was especially dirty, you got two.

So let this letter serve as my valediction to our all-too-brief time together, VO5 Normal. You can rest knowing that the dollar I spent on you was paid back at least three-fold.



Art Edwards

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ART EDWARDS's third novel, Badge (2014), was named a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association's Literary Contest for 2011. His second novel, Ghost Notes, released on his own imprint Defunct Press in 2008, won the 2009 PODBRAM Award for best work of contemporary fiction. His first novel, Stuck Outside of Phoenix, has been made into a feature film. His writing has or will appear in The Writer, Writers' Journal and Pear Noir!, and online at Salon, The Los Angeles Review, Word Riot, The Collagist, PANK, JMWW, Bartleby Snopes, The Rumpus and The Weeklings. In the 1990s he was co-founder, co-songwriter and bass player with the Refreshments.

76 responses to “An Open Letter to My Bottle of VO5 Normal Shampoo, Now Empty”

  1. Fare thee well, VO5 Normal! Godspeed, you brave little cleanliness champion!

    Is that a picture of bacon and eggs on the front of the bottle, Art?

  2. Gloria says:

    This was the perfect, weird little thing to read this morning.

    That does look like bacon and eggs, too. Was it breakfast scented?

    • Art Edwards says:

      Its scent was somewhere in the “orange” category, like that slice of orange next to your bacon and eggs when you eat at a fancy restaurant.

      Yet somehow completely fake smelling too.


  3. Quenby Moone says:

    I was writing about mundane objects as well this morning! Must be something in the air.

    Buy bulk. That’s the only way we stay clean around here.

    • Art Edwards says:

      I once bought a bottle of VO5 for .89 that had a dollar rebate coupon attached. If it hadn’t been for the stamp, I’d’ve *made* money buying that shampoo.

      I cherish these memories now.

  4. Ashley Menchaca says:

    Now I feel the need to rush out right away to get my own VO5 Normal Shampoo.
    Thank you.

  5. Man I can never get enough stories about hair care products. Twas a passionate tribute. Fare thee well, good ‘poo.

  6. Dana says:

    I like that you took a picture of Vovo while she was still full. Is it your wallpaper?

  7. Judy Prince says:

    “One reassuring squeeze everyday was all you asked for, and sometimes, when my hair was especially dirty, you got two.”

    Is there no censorship on TNB?!

    BTW, Art, what’s up with your tempting me with mentioning Neutrogena…..but not writing about it in the post? You’re nuthin but a tease! I’ll never be parted from my Neutrogena.

    Suggestions: Use Aussie brand shampoo; it’ll perk up and thicken anything and works great *every time* which’s more than you can say for . . . um . . . oh wait, there might be a TNB censor . . . . .

    • Art Edwards says:

      I assure you there was nothing untoward going on between me and my little Vo-Vo during our morning ministrations. What kind of world do we live in where a man can’t enjoy the company of his shampoo without someone coming along and making unseemly suggestions?

      Okay. There was that one time, but I’m taking that to my grave.

  8. I felt exactly the same way about the last packet in the crate of Emeril’s Authentic Instant New Orleans Dirty Rice with Real Red Beans that I ate last night. It was the end of an era of bulk instant rice pleasure. Those little discounted packets worked so hard to satisfy.

  9. Greg Olear says:

    This makes me want to sing some ABBA in the shower…

    There was something in the orange goo, that great shampoo, Alberto
    You kept my hair alive, your number’s VO5, Alberto

  10. kristen says:

    Oh how I love the word “coif.” Sorry yours couldn’t enjoy a few more dollops.

    May the next bottle fare better.

    • Art Edwards says:

      I cracked the next bottle this morning, Kristen, and…I don’t know…it’s just not the same. I found myself comparing this new one to my little Vo-Vo. Unfair, I know. I can only imagine how this new bottle must feel, knowing there’s so much to live up to.

      I’m sure it will get easier with time.


  11. kristen says:

    Well, or maybe it won’t. (Worst-case scenario and all.)

  12. kristen says:

    This guy might be just the thing: http://bit.ly/.

    Nothing Normal about coconut shampoo, son.

  13. angela says:

    now i really want to know what this shampoo smells like.

  14. zoe zolbrod says:

    I have enjoyed the wit displayed here, but this post was painful for me, because I am in the midst of a seriously damaging relationship with an economy-sized bottle of Everyday Shea Moisturizing Conditioner that I can’t bear to get out because I’ve invested so much ($10). I won’t do it again.

  15. Jessica Blau says:

    Okay, so now Reno has me watching football and you have convinced me to try orangey-smelling, bacon and eggs-decorated VO5!

  16. Richard Cox says:

    Is that the same brand Axl uses?

    • Art Edwards says:

      Richard, thank you for asking the questions that need to be asked.

      I imagine Axl has special VO5 shipped in from Kuala Lumpur or something. To buy it at the Shop ‘n’ Go up the street would be beneath him.

  17. James Bernard Frost says:

    That was like Lolita, Art. Only it seemed a little cleaner.

  18. Zara Potts says:

    0.89 cents????

    I am so jealous, given that my bloody shampoo costs me $30 a bottle. I am so living in the wrong country!!

    • Art Edwards says:

      With a dollar rebate! If I weren’t inherently lazy, I’d be retired right now.

      • Irene Zion says:

        I have a friend who is a coupon junky.
        She’ll spend all day on the internet printing out coupons and when she goes to the store she’ll pay something like $2.50 for $45.00 worth of stuff.
        People gather around her.
        (They also change lanes when they want to buy something.)
        Takes more commitment than I have.

        • Art Edwards says:

          The coupon culture has always fascinated me. When I buy something with a coupon, and it goes from like $3.00 to $2.50, I always wonder how people like your friend get stuff for next to nothing.

          I find knocking people over the head and taking their wallets so much easier.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Zara, my brilliant one—–you don’t buy AUSSIE shampoo??!!! It’s THE BEST ever, in the entire world!

  19. Erika Rae says:

    “One reassuring squeeze everyday was all you asked for, and sometimes, when my hair was especially dirty, you got two.”

    Best shampoo line EVER.

    But three weeks, Art? THREE WEEKS? Is that really a way to treat your little vo-vo?

    • Art Edwards says:

      Much thanks, Erika. And coming form the author of “Minipoo,” that’s saying something.

      I was hoping my “love ’em and leave ’em” mentality when it comes to my shampoo was sufficiently cloaked. It’s a sickness, I admit, but I go down the aisle of Fred Meyer and there they all are, just asking for it.

  20. […] Maybe you should say stuff about it. What’s it about? Music? Life on the road? Being a good husband? Alberta VO5 shampoo? […]

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