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When the bottle finally ran out, I shuffled, exhausted and demoralized, down the shampoo aisle of my local drugstore, in search of a new fix. Luckily, salvation appeared in the form of--what else--a bottle of shampoo. There was a kangaroo in full leap on the label. The bottle was tall and thin, but not anorexic. The ingredients struck an ideal balance between the natural and the artificial. I flipped open the top and took a whiff. Yum! Aussie Mega Shampoo with Papaya. I bought it.

The second I got home, I went straight to the shower. The shampoo produced whipped cream tufts of foam and smelled heavenly. I massaged my scalp with the utmost care and attention, and stayed in the shower for a good twenty minutes. I emerged in a merry mood, and made a pledge to myself to keep the next shower to under five minutes.

When I walked into the bedroom to get dressed, I felt something I hadn't felt for a long time, and that was contentment. I placed my brand new shampoo bottle prominently on top of my dresser, like it was a trophy. I walked to the kitchen in my tattered pink robe and, enjoying the fruity smell of my damp hair, went about fixing a meal of veggie burgers and ice cream.

After dinner, I kicked up my feet and started dreaming about my next shampoo. As usual, I thought of the liquid pouring out into my palm, the slow build from syrup to suds, and the feeling of that foamy crown resting promisingly atop my soiled head...

But when I tried to envision the after-picture: nature girl, glamour queen, sullen sophisticate...I drew a blank. There was just me, standing in the shower in that lightweight crown, smiling and playing with the bubbles.