My mother was responsible for grocery shopping, but for some reason my dad was the designated purchaser of toiletries. One of his favorites was Alberto V05 shampoo in ‘jojoba’ or ‘extra body.’ This explains, I guess, why I’ve always considered Alberto V05 default shampoo, it’s what we always had. Anything cheaper, which is almost impossible since V05 is 75 cents a bottle, is bad shampoo, while anything more expensive is fancy shampoo. It makes no sense. Pantene is not fancy, but those things ingrained from childhood tend to stick.

The thing about Alberto V05, though, is that it has no silicone in it, and from my perspective that makes it a worthy bargain. It’s is evil to long hair, at least to mine, but I’ll happily pour Alberto V05 onto my head if I have a short enough hairstyle.

This morning while I was having a wash, surrounded by the same smell that meant ‘hair washing’ from my earliest memories, I heard the voice of my parents saying the name of the shampoo: Alberto Veal 5. That’s how they say it. You can maybe see how, if someone is saying it quickly and with a certain accent, the words can sound that way. Veal 5.

Younger me spent actual hours of life wondering about why a shampoo would be named after a meat. Was it a convention left over from the early days of the shampoo? Perhaps. That became my working hypothesis.

I was confronted with the problem every day, so I thought about it quite a bit: the shampoo, the label which very specifically did not refer to meat, the parents who knew–in the way adults often do, it’s magic to someone so young–what the shampoo was really called, despite the fact the label said something completely different. I couldn’t imagine ever being an adult. How do you KNOW things?

I can clearly revisit the moment when I put it all together. I was still small, alone, mostly submerged and peering out of the water at the bottles lined up on the bath. The room was drenched in light from the window, it was too bright for shadows, and finally, FINALLY, I realized what was happening. A strange pronunciation. That was all.

A different kind of magic, epiphany.

How many moments like that have I had since then? I want more. We need more. That’s what I hope for us this year.