Bessie Glass has just stood up:
She went over to the medicine cabinet. It was stationed above the washbowl, against the wall. She opened its mirror-faced door and surveyed the congested shelves with the eye — or, rather, the masterly squint — of a dedicated medicine-cabinet gardener. Before her, in overly luxuriant rows, was a host, so to speak, of golden pharmaceuticals, plus a few technically less indigenous whatnots. The shelves bore iodine, Mercurochrome, vitamin capsules, dental floss, aspirin, Anacin, Bufferin, Argyrol, Musterole, Ex-Lax, Milk of Magnesia, Sal Hepatica, Aspergum, two Gillette razors, one Schick Injector razor, two tubes of shaving cream, a bent and somewhat torn snapshot of a fat black-and-white cat asleep on a porch railing, three combs, two hairbrushes, a bottle of Wildroot hair ointment, a bottle of Fitch Dandruff Remover, a small, unlabelled box of glycerine suppositories, Vicks Nose Drops, Vicks VapoRub, six bars of castile soap, the stubs of three tickets to a 1946 musical comedy (“Call Me Mister”), a tube of depilatory cream, a box of Kleenex, two seashells, an assortment of used-looking emery boards, two jars of cleansing cream, three pairs of scissors, a nail file, an unclouded blue marble (known to marble shooters, at least in the twenties, as a “purey”), a cream for contracting enlarged pores, a pair of tweezers, the strapless chassis of a girl’s or woman’s gold wristwatch, a box of bicarbonate of soda, a girl’s boarding-school class ring with a chipped onyx stone, a bottle of Stopette — and, inconceivably or no, quite a good deal more.Wonderful catalogue, and writer. I like how the deadpan assembling of sentence parts in the first two sentences — “to the medicine cabinet,” “above the washbowl,” “against the wall” — gives way to the overgrown abundance of the sentences that follow. “[D]edicated medicine-cabinet gardener” sounds Nabokovian, as does the joke on Wordsworth’s golden daffodils. Nabokov, it turns out, was an early admirer of Salinger’s writing.
J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey (1961)
Did you catch the pun in “congested”?
Argyrol? Musterole? Sal Hepatica? Stopette? Stay tuned.
More on these items from a catalogue