Soaps & Detergents & Powders & Pastes

All this talk of housework has me remembering that cut on the ground-breaking 1972 album “Free to Be You and Me,” produced by and starring Marlo Thomas. It later morphed into an After School Special, also produced by Thomas and featuring performers from to Harry Belafonte to Roberta Flack, to Mel Brooks to Alan Alda. Check out the lyrics to this segment spoken by Carol Channing. You can hear her reciting it in her slightly daffy way here or just scroll down:

  • You know, there are times when we happen to be
  • Just sitting there quietly watching TV
  • When the program we’re watching will stop for a while
  • And suddenly someone appears with a smile
  • And starts to show us how terribly urgent
  • It is to buy some brand of detergent,
  • Or soap or cleanser or cleaner or powder or paste or wax or bleach, 
  • to help with the housework…..
  • Now, most of the time it’s a lady we see,
  • Who’s doing the housework on TV.
  • She’s cheerfully scouring a skillet or two, 
  • Or she’s polishing pots till they gleam like new,
  • Or she’s scrubbing the tub or she’s mopping the floors,
  • Or she’s wiping the stains from the walls and the doors
  • Or she’s washing the windows, the dishes, the clothes
  • Or waxing the furniture till it just glows
  • Or cleaning the fridge or the stove or the sink,
  • With a light-hearted smile, and a friendly wink,
  • And she’s doing her best to make us think that her soap,
  • Or detergent or cleanser or powder or paste or wax or bleach
  • Is the best kind of soap-or-detergent-or-cleanser-or-powder- or-paste-or-wax-or-bleach in the whole wide world.

  • But I’ll tell you one thing I know is true:
  •  The lady we see when we’re watching TV,
  • The lady who smiles as she scours or scrubs or rubs or washes or wipes or mops or dusts or cleans,
  • Or whatever she does on our TV screens,
  • That lady is smiling because she’s an actress,
  • And she’s earning money for learning those speeches
  • That mention those wonderful soaps and detergents and cleansers and cleaners and powders and pastes and waxes and bleaches.
  • So, the very next time you happen to be
  • Just sitting there quietly watching TV
  • And you see some nice lady who smiles
  • As she scours or scrubs or rubs or washes or wipes or mops or dusts or cleans,
  • Remember, nobody smiles doing housework but those ladies you see on TV.
  • Your mommy hates housework, your daddy hates housework, I hate housework too. 
  • And when you grow up, so will you.
  •  Because even if the soap-or-cleanser-or-powder-or-paste-or-wax-or-bleach you use is the very best one,
  • Housework is just no FUN.
  • Children, when you have a house of your own,
  • Make sure, when there’s house work to do
  •  That you don’t have to do it alone.
  • Little boys, little girls, when you’re big husbands and wives,
  • If you want all the days of your lives
  • To seem sunny as summer weather
  • Make sure, when there’s housework to do, That you do it TOGETHER.

When I first heard this cut back in ’74 I was desperate to get help from my groom with the household chores – I was a feminist in full fledge by that time – but I also remember being faintly shocked by the assertion that we all hate housework. Do we? Even when the sky is falling and washing the floor is the only thing that is keeping us sane?Nice job helping kids get wised up about the lies of advertising though. These many years later we could still all use more lessons like that!   

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