Culture clash 2013!
Our foreign exchange student is a big fan of all things chemical. She prefers bread with long ingredient lists, loves pasta from a can, adores adding bouillon cubes to her cooking, and can’t go for more than an hour without using some sort of fragrance-infused toiletries.
Her shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, toothpaste, perfume, body lotion, face lotion, candles, nail polish, styling products, and soap sit in a row atop her dresser downstairs and seep phthalates into our house. The bottles just sit there, even when closed, and reek.
It doesn’t help that, after more than a decade of completely fragrance-free products, I can smell perfume a mile away. Nor does it help that those fragrances, inherently toxic, give me a headache and nauseate me.
I’ve gotten to a point in my hyper-Berkeley-ish-ness that I want to rescue people who reek of perfume. It’s not nice to be holier-than-thou, but I can’t help it. I want to hand the chemically-addicted an article on the neurotoxins found in fragrance and beg them to change their ways.
I’m not dreadful, though, so I say nothing. Not about my mom’s hairspray or my neighbor’s sunscreen or my father-in-law’s cologne. And not this summer when I have to close the bathroom door and run the fan for hours after our Dominican visitor takes a shower.
But today I’m so furious I can’t stand it.
Rosí asked me how to use the washing machine, and proudly did her own clothes yesterday.
But she left a trial vial of some hideous cologne in her pocket, and its contents leaked into the washer. And dryer.
So now my family’s clothes, towels, and napkins freaking reek of cheap cologne. I’ve washed four times, with baking soda, with vinegar, and with non-toxic eco-friendly soap.
The whole house stinks. When I walk into certain rooms I want to throw up. Every time I enter the house I wonder if a group of misguided teens has shellacked themselves with Axe body spray and wandered the rooms of my house just to torture me.
It’s not all about me, of course. When I handed Rosí the near empty vial from the dryer and told her that her perfume had been through the wash, she seemed devastated.
“Oh, no! I’ll have to get more.”
If anyone would like to host a foreign exchange student for a week, please come now. No, seriously. Now. Because there might be an international incident soon.