July 2014: Scratch and sniff

I don’t trust labels, and I’ve got to stop that because I haven’t lived at home since 1972. To this day, I do the sniff test on everything bought for bathroom use, even though I know what’s in it because oh, gee, I bought it and I have a light in my bathroom. So not the case when I was younger.

Rewind to 1969. A young, witty, intelligent, and attractive teenage girl (me) dragged herself out of bed to get ready for school. In the shower, in subdued lighting, I reached for a bottle labeled shampoo and ended up with Neet Hair Removal gel instead.

Noticing the “shampoo” was not lathering up. I said, “Uhhh, this isn’t lathering up.”

Sniff Test! It didn’t smell like the Head and Shoulders anti-dandruff shampoo we all used. And, of course, clumps of long strands of hair started to part from my head. I screamed, and for the remainder of the school year looked like a bald guy doing a comb-over.

This was not the only time I’ve shampooed my hair with something other than shampoo. There was the time I washed my hair with vegetable oil. If you’re wondering how the vegetable oil got to the shower, I can clear that up for you.

My people are a cheap people. Dedicated cheap people buy in bulk and invent ways to use cheaper stuff to do the job of expensive specialty stuff. They also use lower watt light bulbs to save on electricity. My mother and grandmother repackaged stuff from big bottles to smaller bottles that generally lacked labels or had the wrong labels. Also everything in their bathrooms was in the shower or on the sink; this is called ‘easy access.’ So, one could be forgiven for thinking something in a shower was probably a bathing product and not used for frying okra.

I’ve also creme-rinsed my hair with soft soap and skin lotion’ed my legs with creme-rinse.

Brushing teeth at my parents’ or grandparents’ homes was particularly fraught with danger, because sometimes the label really was what the contents were, but who could read it in the half-dark? I have attempted to brush my teeth with Stick To It denture cream, and Bill’s Backdoor Peppermint Foot Cream. Regarding denture cream: it was never meant to come into contact with anyone’s taste buds and because a good portion of it is gluey resin, it was stuck to my teeth for hours. By the way, Bill’s Peppermint Foot Cream does not taste like peppermint.

The worst bathroom bungle? The bleach spots all over my head after I used hydrogen peroxide from a spray bottle marked ‘foot water.’ I have beautiful wavy hair and on occasion I use a light spray of water, more like a gentle mist, to revive my curls. Which is exactly what I did on vacation to see the folks. My mother walked in, grabbed the bottle screeching, “That’s my foot fungus spray!” and towel-dried my head in a futile effort to sop up the hydrogen peroxide.

By the way, vegetable oil makes a great dry skin treatment, and if you get it on your head you’ll have the softest hair imaginable once you can wash it out. Using spray labeled ‘foot water‘ on my hair? Am not going there.


For more humor, visit www.BarbaraCohea.com, or email her at barbaracohea@gmail.com.