Monday, August 27, 2018


I don't know what it is about my body chemistry when it comes to cologne or perfume, but what smells wonderful to me in the store ends up making me smell as if I tangled with the north end of a southbound skunk when I use the stuff at home.

I've never had much luck with perfume. Back when I was in junior high, the only one we girls could afford was something called Blue Waltz. It cost about a dollar a gallon and had such a strong, sweet scent to it, every time we went outside, swarms of bees attacked us.

One day, however, my bottle of Blue Waltz mysteriously disappeared.  Years later, my mother confessed that she'd poured it down the toilet because the smell of it gave her a headache and made her want to lose her lunch.  Somehow, when I bought it, that wasn't exactly the effect I'd been hoping for.

I have been trying for years to find a scent I really like.  I prefer something light, with a citrus base.  I don't like anything with musk.

Back in 1992, I thought I'd finally found the perfect scent.  It was called Skin Cooler by Bonne Bell, and it smelled of lemons and very faint flowers.  I bought it and sprayed some on myself and surprisingly, it didn't turn into something that smelled like lighter fluid the minute it hit my skin.  I loved it.

But my years of experience have taught me that the minute I say I like something, it usually meets a swift, untimely death. Bonne Bell Skin Cooler was no exception.   I spent years searching endlessly for more of it without any success. Then I got my first computer and was able to expand my search to the wide world of the Internet.  I nearly jumped up and danced a jig when I found a wholesale perfume store that carried Skin Cooler. I immediately ordered two bottles.

I don't know how long that Skin Cooler had been sitting around in the wholesaler's warehouse, but it was so old, it smelled as if it had fermented into something that was about 100-proof.

To make my long-time search for the perfect scent even worse, my late husband  was very fussy about colognes and perfumes. Every scent I tried over the years was met with a less-than-enthusiastic response from him. 

For example, we were in a restaurant one day and he casually mentioned that he liked the perfume our waitress was wearing.  Eager to finally find a scent he actually liked, I asked her what she was wearing.  The next day, I rushed out to buy some.

When my husband came home from work the next night, I was wearing my new perfume.

He wrinkled his nose. "What stinks?"

"It's that perfume you liked so much on the waitress yesterday!" I said.

"Smelled much better on her," he said.

"That's probably because she was carrying a big tray of burgers at the time!" I snapped. "I'll bet if they had a scent called 'Eau de Whopper' you'd love it!"

I finally just gave up on colognes and perfumes and didn't wear any for a long time.  Then one day, I was in a local pharmacy when a woman passed by me and I caught a whiff of a nice light-floral scent.

I chased after her and practically leapt in front of her to stop her.

“I love your cologne!” I gushed. “What brand is it?”

"It's called, 'Falling in Love'," she said. "I get lots of compliments on it."

So once again, I searched the Internet.  “Falling in Love,” from what I could tell, had been discontinued (the story of my life). I finally found a few bottles, most of them partially used, on Ebay, where the cologne was listed as a “rare” item. I eventually found a new, unused bottle,  but the price made me think twice about buying it.  I mean, I could have bought a keg of my old junior-high favorite, Blue Waltz, for the same price.  But finally, out of sheer desperation, I decided to splurge and ordered it.

It arrived and smelled great in the bottle – even better than I’d remembered it on the woman in the pharmacy.  The minute I sprayed it on myself, however, my body chemistry transformed it into something that smelled like old bananas.

My dogs ran up to me, took a sniff, and immediately backed away.

Well, I don't care if "Falling in Love" smells like "Falling into Overripe Bananas" on me.  I don't even care that I'll probably attract fruit flies whenever I wear it.  For what I paid for the stuff, I'm going to use every drop of it.

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Monday, August 13, 2018


Over the years, I have seen some pretty weird souvenirs people have brought back from vacations.  One of my friends proudly showed me a bottle of black sand she’d scooped up from a Hawaiian beach.  Another returned from Australia with a huge real toad that had been stuffed and mounted in a standing position.  The poor thing even was holding a little walking cane and wearing a top hat.

I have to say, however, that my mother probably could have taken home top honors for buying the weirdest vacation souvenir. Years ago, she went to Florida with friends.  Upon her return, she called to excitedly tell me I had to come right over and see what she’d brought back.

Less than enthused, I headed over there, expecting to see something like a petrified seahorse or a fancy seashell with a dolphin (or some other aquatic creature) painted on it.

When I arrived, my mother promptly led me upstairs. “The souvenir’s in bathroom!” she said.

Visions of a baby octopus swimming around in the bathtub sprang to mind as I entered the bathroom.

The souvenir turned out to be…a toilet seat.

“Isn’t it fantastic?” My mother gushed. “It cost a bundle, but I fell in love with it and just HAD to have it!  You can’t find anything this unique around here, that’s for sure!”

I just stood there, silently staring at the toilet seat.  It was made of clear Lucite embedded with dozens of genuine U.S. coins.  Most of the coins were pure silver and included Kennedy half-dollars and even a Peace silver dollar. 

“You’re actually going to sit on that?” I finally managed to ask.

“Of course!” she said. “What else do you want me to do with it? Hang it on the living-room wall?”

“Even with all of those presidents’ faces looking up at you?” I asked. “I don’t know, it just seems kind of…creepy.”

“The seat is a good investment,” Mom said. “You watch, it will become a family heirloom some day.”

“Well, if a burglar breaks in here and steals it,” I said, “don’t bother calling the police.  They’ll just arrest you for making a prank call!”

Over the years, the toilet seat became a regular tourist attraction at my mother’s house.  Guests even brought their friends over, just to show them the famous seat and take photos.  And most people spent unusually long periods of time in the bathroom because they were trying to count the exact total of the coins.

So when my mother passed away, everyone assumed I would become the new owner of the infamous coin seat and display it proudly, perhaps even with a spotlight and a red carpet in my a museum.

Instead, to everyone's surprise, I decided to auction off the seat at my mother’s estate auction and donate the proceeds to the NH SPCA.

One of the reasons why I wasn't interested in keeping the seat was because I'd recently purchased another one I'd thought was pretty cool - even cooler than my mother's coin-seat. It was a Medieval-themed seat, complete with real chain-mail embedded in it. My husband always referred to the bathroom as the "throne," so I wanted my toilet seat to live up to that title.

I was amazed, however, at just how much attention a money-filled toilet seat could generate.  The minute the ad for the auction appeared in the paper and people spotted “toilet seat full of money” listed among the items, my auctioneer’s phone began to ring.  A reporter from a Concord newspaper even interviewed him. The next day, in all its president-faced glory, a photo of the toilet seat appeared in the newspaper, along with a story. 

“The coins in the seat total $12.95,” the article said. “So it should sell for at least that much.”

At last, I finally had an accurate total for the coins. I'd given up trying to count them years before.

“But that’s only the face value of the money!” I shouted at the story as I read it. “A lot of the coins are pure silver!”

Well, someone at a TV station in Boston happened to see the newspaper article and got a big kick out of it, so they sent a reporter to do a story about the seat.  Somehow, I’d never imagined that if my family ever did something worthy of making the six o’clock news, that it would involve, of all things, a toilet seat.

But even though all of the publicity was embarrassing, I secretly was happy about it. I wanted a lot of people to show up for the auction.  After all, the more bids, the more money I could donate to the SPCA. 

To my disappointment, despite all of the pre-publicity, hardly anyone attended the auction.  The toilet seat sold for $55.  I had been expecting a lot more than that, especially since it had gained so much notoriety in recent days.

Still, I reasoned, at least $55 was better than only $12.95. 

Even better...Presidents Lincoln, Roosevelt, Washington and Kennedy never had to be subjected to the trauma of seeing my naked butt on a daily basis.

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Monday, August 6, 2018


The weather lately has been completely unpredictable. One minute the sun is shining and the next, huge black clouds roll in and dump enough water to float an armada.

The other day, when I left the house to go shopping, the weather was hot and dry. While I was in the first store, however, it started to rain so hard, I could swear I saw animals lining up in pairs and searching for Noah.  So I invested $4 on an umbrella, just so I could continue my day of shopping without ending up looking like a contestant in a wet T-shirt contest.

As it turned out, the rain was only the beginning of my problems that day. It seemed as if every store I shopped in was experiencing some sort of minor disaster.

In the first store, for example, the clerk rang up my purchases (and my umbrella), then said,  "By the way, I can't give you a receipt. My machine stopped printing them out, for some reason."

"Well, could you write one out for me, then?" I asked. "I'd like to have proof I was here, just in case I have to return something. "

He took a slip of paper, wrote the name of the store, the date and my total amount on it, then handed it to me. Nothing was itemized. But not wanting to aggravate the people in line behind me, I accepted the makeshift receipt and left.

By the time I reached the next store on my list, the rain was coming down so hard, I couldn't even see the store, so I was glad I'd bought the umbrella. I opened the car door, stuck the umbrella out of it and pushed the self-opening button. Nothing happened. I pushed it harder. Still nothing.  So I banged the button hard on the edge of the car door. The umbrella sprang open...and the handle fell off.

There's an old saying that you get what you pay for.

So I made a frantic dash into the store, sans the umbrella. By the time I entered, I was dripping a trail of water behind me and looked as if I'd just gone snorkeling with all of my clothes on. I made a beeline for their umbrellas.  Not learning from my previous mistake, I grabbed a $3 one. It wasn't a push-button model, it was an old-fashioned manual type. So I figured at least it would work.

While shopping, I noticed a sign that said if you bought five packs of tea-biscuit cookies at $2 each, the store would give you a $10 gift card! I've never been known to pass up free cookies, so I grabbed five packs.

When I left the store, I dug my newest umbrella out of the bag and opened it. It was about the size of a dinner plate and the material was so thin, it looked like tissue paper. But it kept my head dry. Unfortunately, it didn't keep my butt, which stuck out farther than the umbrella, dry at all, and the back of my jeans ended up soaked.

Even worse, and I didn't discover this until I got home, not only was my bag of cookies full of rainwater...the expiration date on the cookie packages was the next day. I've been known to indulge in cookies before, but not five packages in one night (I've come pretty close, however). But at least that explained why the store was so eager to give them away.

At the next store, I was dashing across the parking lot, my tiny new umbrella over my head, when a huge gust of wind came along and turned the umbrella inside out, bending the spokes. So once again, I arrived dripping wet in a store...where a blast of air-conditioning hit me and turned me into a giant goosebump.

Although I was tempted, I decided not to buy another umbrella. With all of the money I was spending on cheap umbrellas, I figured I could have hired someone to follow me around all day and hold one over my head. I already was soaked anyway, so a little more rain wasn't going to make much of a difference at that point.

Once again, something also went wrong at this store. When I got home, I found a phone charger in my bag. I had no clue where it had come from because I'd never seen it before. It had cute little flowers and a cactus on it, and said, "Let's 'stick' together!" I checked my sales slip, hoping I hadn't been charged for it.

No such luck.

The last store I went to was Walmart. The rain reached a new high by then, coming down in sheets.  So I sat in the car and waited...and waited some more. Twenty minutes later, the rain had slowed down to a loud roar, so I bolted into the store. By then, even my bra was carrying pools of water.

I stocked up on everything from groceries to dog toys and cosmetics, then, with my shopping cart heaped full, went to the checkout. The clerk scanned all of my items and bagged them, and I strategically stacked them in my shopping cart. I then handed her three coupons. She scanned the first one and the computer made a weird sound and the screen went blank.  My total was gone, my list of items was gone - the screen was just blank.

Looking panicky, the clerk hit several buttons to no avail, so she put in a frantic call to the manager. He arrived, pushed a couple buttons and the screen came back on, saying it was ready to begin scanning.  The manager, looking very uncomfortable, smiled weakly at me and said, "I'm really sorry - this has never happened before. But we're going to have to unpack all of your items and scan them all over again."

I could read the lips of the customers in line behind me and believe me, they weren't saying, "No problem, we can wait!" In fact, I was pretty sure they were about to form a lynch mob.

I honestly couldn't help myself. I burst out laughing. The clerk and the manager just stared wide-eyed at me.

"I'm sorry," I said, as I began to un-bag all of my items and put them back on the counter to be re-scanned, "I've just been having a really crazy day."

The next day, I brought the first umbrella, in pieces, back to the store, which, unlike the other stores where I'd gone shopping, is right here in town.

"Do you have a receipt?" the manager asked me.

I handed her the handwritten receipt on scrap paper. She gave me a look that silently, yet clearly, said, "What the heck is this?"

I told her the clerk's machine had stopped producing receipts the day before, so he'd hand-written one for me.

She rolled her eyes and shook her head, then muttered, "He's not going to be here much longer."  She then gave me my $4.

I'm not going to bother returning the other umbrella or the stale cookies. I figure it will cost me more to buy the gas to return the umbrella than it's worth. And the cookies were free anyway (as I said, you get what you pay for) so the birds always can eat those. But I will return the mysterious phone charger.

I'm just going to wait until there's a drought.

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