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Suburban Island

Gasoline Alley
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2004, 7:35 p.m.

QUESTION: What's that smell?

WHAT I LEARNED: Location can make or break the everyday smell.

While I was pursuing knowledge related to the finer points of paintball mania, I had another chemical crisis. While driving to the paintball store, I got a call from my daughter. She had been at the gas station and while she was cleaning the car windows, the gas nozzle had flipped out of the gas tank and she had gotten splashed with the gasoline. Although the gas stopped flowing immediately, she got gasoline on her face, in her hair, on her hands, and on her clothes - including a bewitchingly lovely new apple green jacket that she had just put on that very day in honor of the impending fall weather.

This is not the kind of call that a mom wants to get on the way to the paintball store. This is not the kind of call that mom wants to get unless she is sedated beforehand. Go home, I said. My daughter went home immediately, reeking to high heaven of eau de gasoline, and the washing up commenced without further ado. Now personally I have always kind of liked the smell of gasoline - as long as it is wafting through the air at the local gas station. I think that positive association to the smell of gasoline hearkens all the way back to kidhood when sitting in the back seat while Dad did all the work and a team of uniformed attendants checked oil, washed windows, and otherwise made themselves useful was part of the landscape of my Sunday afternoons.

I have discovered that the sweet smell of gasoline is just a stench outside of the rarefied air of the local gas station. I hate the smell of gasoline on clothes, on hands, and most of all on my kid’s hair. Even that shampoo that makes women go wild in the shower is going to get tedious when hair-washing becomes a non-stop gasoline removing operation. Furthermore, do you know how many times you have to wash a brand new apple green jacket that got gasoline on it before it doesn’t smell like gasoline anymore? Well, it is more times than one would think. Luckily I had a big jug of clothes detergent just waiting to be put to work on those hard to clean stains and odors.

Now all the shampoo in the house is significantly diminished but my daughter’s hair smells fresh and sweet. Her coat is clean if extraordinarily wrinkled. Because I know my daughter was careful when pumping gas, I am going to add a extra dose of carefulness to my gasoline pump behavior from now on and I feel confident that she will too.

This episode has made me realize that stuff happens in life but some stuff stinks more than other stuff. In the future, I am going to be more prepared for such malodorous mishaps. Those little individually packaged moist towelettes have just bounced up near the top of my next shopping list and I will be distributing them to the glove compartments of all family vehicles for cleaning emergencies post haste. The price of gas at the pump is expensive, the cost of cleaning and steam pressing one new fall coat cannot be ignored, however, in some situations the price of a few moist handy wipes is simply priceless.

DETAILS: Coffee: iced caramel macchiato + Listening to: West Coast Jazz + Observing: chipped nail polish and a momentarily empty nest + Thinking: How nice to have a few quiet moments + Weather: autumn is in the air.

Today’s Suburban Strategy: Like pirate talk?

Today’s Scenic Cam: Catch the sunset on Lake Chelan.

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