Creatures of Habit




Shopping for dish soap at the City Line Target, I pick a bottle of Palmolive marked two for five dollars. My mom puts it back in favor of Dawn. “Brand loyalty,” she says.

My aunt and grandma wait in the car, feeding the dog avocados. They’ve flown three thousand miles to help me unpack. I wish they hadn’t have bothered.

They want to know if I’ve made progress since last night. Only the posters are up. Klimt’s “The Kiss” hangs above my bed. Grams wonders why I’d ever want a painting of a naked white woman.

“Do you like men?” she asks. I remind her about my boyfriend.

“Is he black?”

“No.”

The widow and her two discarded daughters resent me, the “Taken Woman.” The one who jumped the velvet rope as they rotted in line. Every night, they pray for strong, black men. I tell them to branch out, to ask for “strong men,” or, better yet, “vulnerable people.” But they won’t. For them, it’s all about brand loyalty.

I’m more of a comparative shopper.

I used to buy my family’s every word. I didn’t trust generic brands. Now I know that not all tissues are Kleenex. They like to point out all the ways I’ve changed. They ask, “What happened to “our Lauren”?

To them, I’d like to say this:

Some days, I curse like a sailor. I put walnuts in my brownies, not pecans. I haven’t done my own laundry since August. I bought Egyptian cotton sheets, the ones you said were too “nice” for me. I got tired of the Jersey ones you picked coming off with every kick. I have two tattoos and counting. I am a budding Buddhist. My spirit animal is Bill Cosby. I’m a writer and anti-hipster. I don’t live ironically, or to piss you off. I’m no hypocrite for changing my mind.

You want to know what happened to “your Lauren”? She grew up. Now, I’m my own “Lauren.” I’m not saying it’s better or worse, just, please, stop trying to change me.

Since leaving home, I haven’t used Lever 2000 soap, Bounty paper towels, or Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup. This doesn’t mean that I don’t bathe, wipe my counters, or eat pancakes.

The next time I need dish soap, I’ll buy whatever brand’s on sale. This time it was Palmolive, but maybe next time it will be Dawn.

 

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