There aren’t many things all people can agree upon, but one semi-axiomatic testament I think is pretty watertight is this: everyone loves a good drinking vessel. For some, that might mean a double-walled, insulated hiking flask; for others, a hand-blown wine goblet might be a favorite. My friend Jason prefers to take his beverages in glass jars, and I know a few people who might not be recognizable without a Tervis tumbler in their hands. Our oldest child, for his part, bears a stalwart adherence to his fleet of Thermos Funtainers (perhaps that marketing-driven moniker bears some responsibility for his allegiance). The newest addition to his collection of these flip-top aluminum bottles with straw attachments is one decorated with a depiction of the amazing Spider-Man in action, and recently I’d noticed that the silicone straw component for it looked a little grubby and was in need of a thorough scrubbing.
To prepare for this, and because I frankly didn’t feel like getting out the tiny straw brush to work on it in that moment, I put the piece in a bowl in the sink and sprayed its entire surface area with my sink’s companion, the Dawn Powerwash, to let those scum-scouring agents work their surfactant sorcery, or, as my husband puts it, “let it soak”. The next morning I’d finally summoned the energy to attack the thing with a wire brush, successfully removing all traces of discoloration and stuffing it onto one of the pegs in the top rack of the dishwasher for a final cleanse.
A couple of weeks later, my son came home from school saying that his water tasted like perfume all day, and I silently scoffed at his sensitivity but disassembled the whole Spider-Man Funtainer, put it back in the dishwasher, and thought nothing else of it. However, the next time he used that bottle, the same complaint ensued. I challenged him on it, thinking perhaps there was a psychosomatic element at play here, but he adamantly averred, “No, Mommy, it really does taste like your perfume!” Wait a second, I thought. MY perfume?! I haven’t worn perfume since the moment he was born, cringing prudishly when anyone wafting eau-de-anything wanted to hold my children as infants and bemoaning to everyone who would listen that Johnson & Johnson baby products were full of fragrance. Hell, I don’t even use dryer sheets. “Liam,” I said, “I don’t wear perfume. I haven’t worn perfume in years,” to which he responded with certainty, “Yes, you do! I smell it on you a lot!”
Well, that was a real head-scratcher. Our detergent is free and clear, and I don’t use fragranced skin or hair products, so I had no idea what he could be thinking. At any rate, it was time to see what all of the fuss was about, so I finally took the time to sniff the silicone straw apparatus and, lo and behold, the kid wasn’t wrong about it bearing a scent reminiscent of the second-grade teacher at my school, Mrs. Burchett, whose classroom famously reeked of her perfume to the point that I could barely pass by the open door without gagging (luckily my homeroom that year was with the sweetly unscented Mrs. Holden). So Operation Scent Removal began, which included an overnight white vinegar bath, a sterilizing session in a rolling boil of water in a saucepan, and a full day of full sun in hopes of achieving deodorization. I’m pleased to say that this reverse-spa treatment worked fairly well in eliminating almost all of whatever bouquet had infected the strawpiece, so I called the situation salvaged and case closed. Spider-Man could now safely get back to his work of eradicating street crime and hydrating middle schoolers.
The plot thickened and quickly thinned out a week or so later, when I went to say goodnight to Liam one evening. I reached over to give him a hug, then fluffed his hair and mentioned that it was almost haircut weekend again. “There it is!” he said, sitting suddenly straight up in bed. “That’s it! Your perfume! I smelled it on your hands just now!” I checked to see what he meant and discovered that there was, in fact, a residual odor on my hands. It was the distinct aroma of the blue Dawn I’d used to finish up the dishes moments before coming upstairs. Immediately upon making this realization, we were able to surmise that leaving the silicone to “soak” in the Dawn Powerwash (erroneously labeled as imparting a “Fresh Scent”) had had the opposite effect of what was intended.
That was the moment when I recognized that my child might very well enter into adulthood with an olfactory association between his mother and the smell of distinctly blue dish soap. And all I can say about this is that if you could bottle up the feeling of accomplishment, not even Coco Chanel could put a price tag on it.