Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cowboys, Aliens, and B.O.

Since I'm currently away -- well, when this post is meant to go live -- I thought I'd repost something I had on my blog last year after watching a movie.  The post was called "An Idle Wondering" but for this, I've changed it to "Cowboys, Aliens, and B.O."  You'll see what I mean...

So, last night, we watched Cowboys and Aliens and a thought bubble formed over my head.  Great movie, by the way, and with some funny moments by Harrison Ford who has an effortless way of acting.  But, I'm straying away from my idle wondering.

Hygiene... Yep, I said it right.

I've always idly wondered about personal hygiene, in the real world, in those way-back-when days.  If movies and books are authentically portraying those time-periods (and what is written in history), then it's pretty safe to say that personal hygiene in those days were either few and far between, or non-existent.  Judging from the sweat stains, general dirt and filth, and uhhh, those hideously decaying teeth, then humanity in those days must've stunk to high heaven and caused corrosion to your lungs.  But then, people were made of hardy stuff back then, and their survival from that stench is confirmation of that.

Of course, from history tales, we know that perfume was invented, and later the combination of soap with water became a popular choice to smell better and keep all body parts refreshed and not just for your honeymoon.  But still, when you think that way back when, something like travelling used to take you eons to get from point A to B, with limited stops and bathroom breaks -- and the invention of wet wipes and Purell liquid sanitizers was still light years away -- we can only surmise that, in general, people STANK.

This brings me to my next idle thought.  The future.  Now, I love writing SF and stuff that happens way into the beyond.  A lot of stuff I see in fiction are combined with great adventures, where people travel all over the universe in spaceships and wormholes and whatnots.  Of course, people are a lot cleaner looking in the Hollywoodized future, with amazing backdrops of super-sophisticated buildings and vessels and wow-gadgets and stuff.  But, aside from shower tubes and drying tubes, no one really touches on their personal hygiene issues.  Okay, that sounds kinda gross, and probably no one really wants to know and it would make a really gross (and fairly dull) moment to go into detail about.  But don't you just wonder, when the super-cool hero grabs the equally super-cool heroine and gives her that first kiss after battling and killing aliens and spaceships for the better part of a week, and no toothbrush in sight...  Er, well, me personally, I'd tell him to hold that thought...

I know, right, I just sucked the "romance" right out of the moment.  But brushing one's teeth, how would you do that in the future?  Would we still have need of toothbrushes or waterbrushes?  I'd really like to know.  And toilet paper.  And deoderant...a stick, spray, or do we take a pill to eliminate b.o.?

And like in Demolition Man with Stallone, where he wakes up in the future and discovers that bathroom hygiene has changed, my curious mind would really like to know what the hell those seashells were for. 

In one of my books, I was really tempted to add little bits of personal hygiene aspects into it.  Like the same toothbrush and toothpaste scenario.  My character would use a small gel capsule, bite down, and poof!  Froth and refreshing mint-flavour cleaning foam would fill your mouth and get into the nitty-gritty areas and get rid of all plaque and bad breath germs.  (I sound like a commercial)  But I never included that into the story, because who really wants to know about someone's personal hygiene routine?  And I'm sure most of the leading brands already have a toothpaste that does just that. much for being creative and original.  Well, the gel tablet was original.

Oh well, I guess it's just my curious mind wandering into areas that are usually gleaned over.  Since I like to write convincing characters, it's only fair to create a complete picture, personal hygiene-issues and all.  What about you?  Have you ever thought the same thing?


T.K. Toppin


January Bain said...

Hey T.K., my vampires don't have to worry about hygiene as they are always perfect unlike the pure messiness of being human, eh!

TKToppin said...

Haha! Really? Vampires? I never knew...thanks for that bit of information. And thanks for stopping by!

Big Mike said...

Imagine what the march to Gettysburg was like in the civil war in August. All they had to were was wool, to eat was acorns and green apples, to wipe were leaves. Lord are we lucky.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

TKToppin said...

Big Mike...most definitely...we ARE lucky! :)

Jude Johnson said...

One of my pet peeves with Hollywood is the super-cleanliness of the knights in "Camelot." Shiny white dresses? In medieval days? hah!
One of the most ostentatious signs of wealth in the 19th century was to dress in all white clothing. It meant you were rich enough to afford servants to painstakingly wash all the grime out of the fabric. Especially when the fashion of the day had dresses with trains dragging along behind. One of the research sources I read documented how those trains picked up all sorts of nasty bits: dead birds, dog turds, tobacco juice men had spit out... So next time you watch "Tombstone" and see those dresses dragging along the walkways, think about the "treasures" a woman would find tangled in the bottom of her skirts.
And I won't even get into not shaving armpits...

Great post, T.K.--and welcome home!


TKToppin said...

Oh...ewww!! Jude, thanks for that 'enlightening' image... Like Big Mike said, we are lucky!!

Sindy Jones said...

Once again TK you have made me think and own-up: YES I TOO HAVE THUNK THOSE SAME THOUGHTS! And even wrinkled my nose imagining what the stench might have been. TOO FUNNY! For those interested, I leave you with a small insight into what was going on hygene, sanitation, and general cleanliness-wise in medieval to victorian england .. its a BBC link and its a real eye opener, I had the privilege of hearing it summarized by a prominent lawyer during a luncheon meeting which had the audience in stitches despite the venue:

Sindy Jones said...

Ooops sorry TK. I dunno why that link got pasted... funny how tech works.. heres the real link:

TKToppin said...

Wow, thanks for that link Sindy. Once again, SO glad I live in this era!! Thanks for stopping by!!