As I knelt on my bathroom tile, I surveyed the job in front of me. My shower featured a familiar pink residue under the standing water. The sink itself wasn't it bad shape, but I was eager to attack the chrome finishings with something that promised to be both strong and gentle. I sighed. Strong and gentle. A girl can still dream. With that, I reached for a box that promised to bring me closer to a squeaky clean inner and outer experience: the Clorox Scrub Singles 12-pack in Rain Clean scent.
I love the smell of rain. Rain is renewal. A fresh start. Someone once kissed me in the rain. My first kiss. After many months of yearning, it was a sweet surprise, under a maple tree one night in early spring. I was cold. He gave me his jacket. The whispering of water droplets on leaves, the slowness of time. The sweet not knowing. Perhaps that optimistic part of me is energetically still there, under that tree in that frozen instant, waiting for that kiss. Tenderly, I opened the box of Scrub Singles, a teenager again in those first hesitant moments of discovery.
A strong, artificial musk scent smacked me in the face. Neither rain-like nor clean-scented; these single-use scrubbing sheets threw out a cloud of odor closer to that of a desperate teenage boy’s armpit. Drakkar Noir? Axe Body Spray? Something unnecessarily forceful. The scrubbing sheets? They seemed to work reasonably well. The woman in the commercial uses her bare hands, but these things are loaded with all kinds of chemicals that I’d never want on my skin, not to mention that God awful fragrance. I had to really scrub hard in certain areas; there is nothing magical about this product.
My bathroom certainly looks cleaner. However, the odor I’m stuck with smells nothing of rain, nothing of purity or innocence. Perhaps the chemical pheromones were formulated to trigger some kind of socio-economic release in in me, allowing me to yield domestic control to a disposable sanitary wipe. Unfortunately, the concoction only served to remind me of a different rainy night, when my crush would reach for my bra strap and call me a tease. My shower is scrubbed down, but even now, days later, my bathroom smells as inappropriately threatening as an Abercrombie and Fitch. My bathroom might technically be clean, but now it just *feels* dirty.
Sarah Elovich is a writer and performer based in Oakland, CA.