When your life has been a sitcom since you were 15 years old, it’s hard to discern the dumbest thing you’ve ever done. But alas, I think I can safely say that today, I have definitely mastered the art of the idiocy.
Black Friday. Ha! That’s funnier than you’d think. Just wait. I decided to brave the crowds and hit the discount store, Ross that is. That’s my discount store of choice. I bought a bunch of thrilling Chanukah presents for my family – colored boxer briefs, V-neck undershirts and socks. I also bought a special something for my own sweet self – exotic charcoal bath salts from South Africa. They were only $5.99. I thought about buying all five of the packages so that when I absolutely loved them, I wouldn’t have to run to every Ross around looking to replenish my stash. But then something resembling reason seized me and encouraged me to try one and then come back tomorrow for the remainder should they be as purifying, detoxifying and energizing as the package asserted they would be.
Now I am a woman who loves my bath time. I loved to soak when I lived in Arizona no matter what the weather outside. But here in Seattle, I am cold … all the time. I spend at least 20 minutes a day in my tub. As the mom of two teenage boys, it is often the only peaceful, healing, alone time I have. So I was flying high imagining my charcoal immersion. I followed the directions carefully, slowly scattering several handfuls of the precious black nuggets under the running water. The water turned ominously black. “What fun!” I thought. I turned on my mini heater, plumped up a dry towel and stepped into the dark sea.
It didn’t feel at all unusual. It actually didn’t feel special in any way. It was just dark and maybe a bit oily. I soaked for a good 20 minutes until my heat quota was filled. The water had greyed a bit and I noticed a thick black ring all around the tub. As I emptied the water, I realized that the ring was a consistent layer of smoky residue from the top of the tub to the bottom. It had seeped into the whirlpool jets and around the drain and faucet. I started to panic imagining how I would ever get the tub clean.
I grabbed a container of Clorox wipes and started scrubbing as I sat in the draining water. It wouldn’t come off. Then I noticed that I too was covered in black charcoal. Black, gooey charcoal that didn’t wipe off. It was then that I realized, “Oh, Lucy, you’ve done it again!”
It took an hour in the shower to get most of the dirt off my body. The tub was even worse. I scrubbed, soaked it in bleach and finally bribed my 17-year-old son, Levi, to take his turn at scouring. Two days later, the tub is fairly clean. But I don’t think it will ever be the same.
I reread the package claiming every health benefit imaginable. Then I saw a tiny disclaimer that was barely discernible at the back bottom of the box. It read, “Charcoal may leave a slight residue that is easily wiped away.” “Easily wiped away?” I muttered. “Yeah, if you’re sexy P&G icon, Mr. Clean!”
As I rethink this episode of my personal maternal sitcom, I wonder what would actually possess someone to buy a package of black carbon, ash and traces of volatile chemicals, convince themselves that it would be healthfully cleansing, soak in it and then wonder why they were covered in a thick, semi-permanent layer of residue. Haven’t come up with an answer yet. But maybe we’ll unveil that in the follow-up episode next week.