For the last forty-five minutes I’ve been waiting for my turn at the bathroom mirror. You may think, Ah, teenage daughter? But no, I don’t even have a teenage daughter and my two sons have their own bathroom. I’m sitting on the bed, half-dressed, waiting for my husband, Carlos, to finish doing whatever it is he does in there.
I sigh loudly to signal my waning patience, but the only response I get on the other side of the door is the tapping sound of his razor and running water as he shaves for a second or third time to make extra sure he didn’t miss a spot.
I have come to accept this as my fate, as a woman married to a Latin man. While friends married to Anglo men complain to me about their husbands leaving stinky socks around or not getting a haircut often enough, I have the opposite problem. Carlos is clean, sometimes excessively so. I’m talking twice-a-day showers (even on the weekend), facial hair shampooing, daily flossing, and freak–outs over stains or wrinkles. All of the products he requires for his male-beauty routine rival my “must-have” products lining the bathroom counter.
Turns out, I’m not the only one with a husband like this. According to a 2011 study conducted by Univision, my husband fits the profile:
- Latino men spend $8 more per month than non-Latino men for hair styling products, moisturizer, and fragrances.
- Latino men use hair styling products, moisturizer, and fragrances more often per week than non-Latino men.
- 34% of Latino men shower twice a day vs. 16% of non-Latino men.
Finally the door opens and steam billows out. “You can have the mirror now,” he says. I take my place at the sink, smear lotion on my face, comb anti-frizz serum through my hair, and before I know it, he’s back. I watch as he grabs his can of body spray, disappearing into the bedroom where I can hear the hissing sound; that methodical way of applying the spray as if he were crossing himself at church.
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Later, (and always when I’m applying mascara), he knocks lightly and then pushes the door open which bumps my elbow. A black smudge mars the bridge of my nose. “Sorry,” he says, “I just wanted to know what you think. This pair of shoes or this pair of shoes?” he asks, holding up nearly identical pairs of spotless sneakers.
Once I’ve given him my opinion on footwear, he’ll often come back to ask if I think the shirt he chose looks good on him. “Are you sure?” he’ll say, stepping in front of the mirror and adjusting his collar as he appraises himself one last time.
I’m so close now, I’m almost finished getting ready when Carlos appears before me once again. “Glasses or contacts?” he asks, showing me what he looks like with and without. “Glasses,” I say, only because choosing contacts requires the bathroom mirror again.
The whole family is waiting for me in the living room. Just five more minutes and I’ll be ready to go. Carlos pushes the bathroom door open and peeks in. “Are you almost ready?” he asks. “Look at the time. You’re taking forever.”