After the big snowstorm we got last weekend, I was out shovelin’ the steps off and diggin’ the truck out and shakin’ my fist at the snowplow driver who filled in the driveway three different times in the space of two days.
Holy cripes, she said. Your hands are right dry. That’s from bein’ out in the cold. You should put some stuff on them.
Whaddya mean? I said. What stuff?
Some moisturizer, she said. I got a whole thing of it in the bathroom and another little tube on my nightstand. You should put it on and let it soak in and your skin won’t be all dry and cracked like that.
I looked down at my hands, and I guess they were pretty dry and cracked, just like she said. The skin was right rough on most of the knuckles and ya could see where a few of them cracked open. But can ya really see me puttin’ moisturizer on?
Oh yes, Minnie, I said. I’ll run right up and put on some moisturizer on my hands, but first I just gotta find my makeup bag and put my lipstick on and then we can go dress shoppin’ together and we’ll buy some nail polish on the way home.
Ooohhh, Minnie says, flexin’ her muscles and doin’ a deep voice. I see how it is. I’m a big strong man and I’d rather have my hands crack and split open than have anybody think I’m girlie. Suit yourself, stubborn arse.
So the next night we’re eatin’ supper and – I’m not gonna lie, my hands were even more dry and cracked than the day before. Rosie spots my cracked and bloody knuckles and says – What happened to your hands? Were you in a fight, or what?
Yeaaah, Minnie says before I can answer. He did that wrestlin’ a grizzly with his bare hands. Or was it that bare-knuckle boxin’ match behind the tavern? I can’t keep track of all the manly, macho things you’re up to.
Rosie had a funny look on her face, so I said – They’re just dried out from the cold weather. Your mother told me to put moisturizer on them, but I said no.
Why not? Rosie said.
Because, I said. Men don’t put moisturizer on their hands. It’s for women.
Ohhh, Rosie said. So you don’t want to seem girlie?
Of course not, I said.
Well that makes you a misogynist, she said. (Rosie’s only 12, but she’s been throwin’ around big words now for years)
Is that some kind of skin condition? I said.
No, she said. It means you don’t like women.
That’s crazy! I said. There’s you and your mother right here, and I love yis both! There’s all kinds of things I like about women, dear, believe me. Where’d ya get an idea like that?
Well, if you don’t want to act like a woman, then that must mean being a woman is somehow bad, Rosie said. Then she looks at me with these big innocent blue eyes and says – Is it wrong to be a woman?
Yeah, Minnie chimes in. Is it?
Wait a minute, now! I says. Yis’re takin’ this all wrong. That’s not what I said at all. I just meant there’s things meant for women and there’s things meant for men. I don’t put on moisturizer for the same reason yous don’t put on aftershave. I don’t put curlers in my hair the same way yous don’t got a fly in your underwear. Not to say one’s better – we’re just different. It’s the same reason why the dog don’t use the litter box and the cat don’t bark at the mailman.
Ah, Minnie says. But moisturizer is just moisturizer. It don’t say it’s for women or anything.
Yeah, I said. I but everybody knows its women that use it. Besides, it probably got some kinda medication or somethin’ in it that reacts better to women’s skin.
Actually, Rosie said (and whenever she says “Actually,” you know she’s about to tell ya somethin’ you didn’t know or ask about). Actually, the emollients in the moisturizer slow the rate of evaporation while the humectants actually draw moisture from the air to re-hydrate your skin.
What in the – I looked at Minnie, who was beamin’ at Rosie and tryin’ not ot laugh at the same time. Where’d you get all them words?
So, Rosie said, plowin’ right ahead, since you have thicker skin than we do, the rate of evaporation should be slower and your skin should have more of a capacity to absorb moisture. Which means, scientifically, moisturizer would probably be more useful for men than women.
I’m tellin’ ya, the only time in my life when I’m happy to be dead wrong and lose an argument is when it’s with Rosie. How could a kid I helped make come out so damn smart? I guess like a lot of people, I don’t really think too much of myself, but when you got a kid like that, it’s hard not to look at her and think ya did somethin’ right in the world.
Well all right then, I said. Ya convinced me – get me the lotion and I’ll give ‘er a shot.
The two of them kicked out gigglin’ and Rosie ran upstairs to get the moisturizer. I was sittin’ there with my hands all greased up when Little Bill came home and his jaw dropped when he seen what I was doin’.
It’s science, Bill, I said to him. Your sister told me all about it.
Right, Rosie said. Now, pink or red? What colour nail polish do you want?