Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sigh No More, Ladies

One of the most enjoyable parts of working the card and gift area of this here Brookline Booksmith is opening up all the boxes of new merchandise we carry in the store. Sure, it is coupled with the time-consuming and sometimes tedious task of putting the little price stickers on each item--but it's also sort of like Christmas every time we get something especially cool. And just two days ago, ladies and gentlemen, we got some especially awesome new merchandise.

We warmly welcome the fabulous bath and beauty products from fantastic company Blithe and Bonny. These hand-crafted and amazingly scented products include goat's milk soap bars, bath salts, dish soaps, bubble bath, candles, body lotions, soaps shaped like bees, soaps shaped like roses... and they all smell AMAZING. With fragrances like Jasmine, Rose, Honey Almond, Lavender, Eucalyptus Mint (!) and more, there's pretty much something for everyone. Also, dish towels.

I'm one of those wimpy people who is sensitive to strong fragrances, but these lovely bath and beauty products, while still quite pleasant, are not overly strong; even after several hours handling boxes of soaps and candles, I hadn't sneezed once. Instead I 'm pretty sure my brain became encased in happy smells that may have made me a bit more giddy at the whole situation than is considered normal...

On top of the glorious scents, Blithe and Bonny uses awesomely innovative, eco-friendly packaging. Dish soaps and bubble baths are packaged in repurposed wine bottles; the dish towels are wrapped in what appears to be cardboard tubes from paper products. And if you hadn't noticed already, each label is made from the page of an old book. How perfect is that?

While admiring all this awesome merchandise, I inspected one of the designs of the lovely flour sack dish towels we carry: a mermaid with a poem from Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing." It reads as follows:

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh nor more;
    Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea and one on shore,
    To one thing constant never;
        Then sigh not so,
        But let them go,
    And be you blithe and bonny;
Converting all your sounds of woe
    Into. Hey nonny, nonny.
In the play, the poem goes on:

Sing no more ditties, sing no mo,
    Or dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
    Since summer first was leavy.
        Then sigh not so,
        But let them go,
    And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
    Into. Hey, nonny, nonny.

Now, if you've ever seen this particular Shakespeare play, you know that the plot involves some sullen jerk who decides to mess with everybody's happiness by tricking the lovestruck Claudio into believing his fiancee has been unfaithful. The trick works, and the enraged Claudio abandons the heartbroken (and confused) Hero on the alter, accusing her of lechery. Now, when you consider the plot in relation to this little poem here, something doesn't quite make sense. Basically, the song (as song by some unimportant page at a garden party or something) basically says this: Men are unfaithful jerks, but there's nothing you can do about it, so stop complaining and accept it--replace those sad songs with "hey, nonny nonny" (Shakespeare-tongue for "what the heck").

Wait a second. So men can go around and do whatever they want and women are supposed to just deal? A bit of a double standard, considering what poor Hero went through just because her fiancee suspected that she wasn't being true (without giving her a chance to defend herself, of course). Unfortunately, this is something to which ladies today can still relate. Christina Aguilera has a song that basically says the same thing, although a little less eloquently than old Will Shakespeare. While great strides have, indeed, been made towards women's equality, this is one area that seems all too unchanged since Much Ado About Nothing premiered back in circa 1598. Not to say that this isn't an awesome play (I enjoy it thoroughly), but it is something that does make us ladies sigh.

So, I propose an alternative translation to Shakespeare's poem: Men can be jerks (and should be held accountable when they are), so instead of just accepting it and/or sitting in your room singing "Unbreak My Heart," screw 'em; brush it off and take a nice bubble bath, accompanied by some amazing Blithe and Bonny bath products. Hopefully now, you'll be sighing not in frustration but in sweet, fragrant relaxation.

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