Wiping Love's Baby Soft

Oh Ladies! Do you remember that sweet time in our youth? You just read Forever the whole way through, and not just the dirty parts....? The thrills of mother's discarded perfume samples and Clinique free gifts she deemed yours? Recall now girls, the quickening of the pulse at the word "Esprit"? Daisy Razors? Maybelline Kissing Potion? Oh, PINK! Heavenly retro, every bit as cool as The Go Gos first album! Dream yourself back there, my dears, you are on the verge of Ladyhood. Your existence has become an episode of The Facts of Life. Seventeen has become your bible. Contempo your place of worship! And somewhere deep inside you, reaching farther than all the songs Duran Duran had written just for you, is that secret desire, a boyfriend And what is that sweet non-threatening fragrant aroma? No, not your Agree washed hair, not F.D.S.!!! It is the ambrosial notes of a discarded youth it is LOVE'S BABY SOFT!I was seduced by the promises of Love's. Ready and willing to believe at age 12 that the pleasures of coeducation lay hidden in the pink bottle of Love's Baby Soft. Any boy could be transformed into my boyfriend! The phallic design of the bottle itself was a gentle prodding of sexual inquiry. Not unlike that of Playtex's Petal Soft applicator : Its' uncanny resemblance to a vibrator leaves me to wonder, how many of us delved into clitoral and olfactory ecstasies with this item. I thought of no better way to make the men of Redwood Jr. High ache for me that first apocalyptic autumn. Oh Lord, God in Heaven how I wanted to fall from grace onto a Molly Ringwald-pink bed of lust and romance! I , along with my peers had been thoroughly educated by Judy Bloom's novel of adolescent hymen breaking Forever where we had been briefed by the main character that boys liked soft colors, like the light blue soft sweater she chose to wear to reduce her prospective date to a quivering heap of hormonal desire and undying love. All this and more was destined to be mine, and it was closer to me than the feel of my "Naired" legs.I discovered "Love's" the Summer previous to my seventh grade year. I was enlisted at Camp Beaver Brook, a stripped down, no nonsense camp for sons and daughters of "Whitey". Cosmetics were forbidden fruit, as we were encouraged to develop our inner beauty. Back issues of Seventeen were passed like joints at a Dead show. Curling irons were hid in Tampax boxes, and nothing and I mean nothing, was as prized as contraband as an almighty bottle of "Loves Baby Soft". Its hosannas were sung by more worldly teenage girls. Despite the initial gagging from its overly sweet odor, I craved the mythic power and superlative sexual attraction it could give me. I couldn't tell if my stomach was clenching because of the scent's stench or at the convention of the power of my own sexuality. I inhaled deeply. Night I would catch whiffs of it as seasoned hay-veterans snuck out to meet boys in the stable for humping 101. It was the smell of success . I lay in my bunk dreaming of future conquests as I pressed my clit to the thoughts of dancing with boys to my favorite new wave music. Love's.... with it my world would be as perfect and dreamy as any plot in a John Hughes film.Faster than I could check for outgrowth on my legs, the first dance of the Jr. High was approaching . Instead of looking forward to this milestone of youth, I was filled with an overwhelming inexplicable sense of terror. I needed to snare me a boyfriend with my Passion Lasso to be made from that lil' bottle of Love's . One stinking problem: my mum refused to let me wear or buy the "tarty stuff". My life read like a doomed letter in Boy's Eye View. And to add another log to the psycho-trauma fire, I had no date, as was the case with all my friends. I found salvation in Kirsten Hellar. With the help of an older teenage sister on her side, she was well versed and completely in control of the situation at hand. We were briefed on what to wear, when to show up and more importantly what to smell of....Kirsten possessed the power of the "L" bomb. Come Friday, I stagged it on over to the Redwood Jr. High Dance at the Saratoga, Calif. Community Center.I found Kirsten and made the bee-line for the powder-room where the sweet ejaculations of Loves were discharged on my neck. We dripped the elixir on our pulse points! Down our shirts and any other area of exposed skin. Dewy wet with fragrance, buzzing from the fumes, we glided our Kissing Potion across our lips and Corn Silked our noses. I was primed, I was preened and was psyched to stalk the 7th grade midgets that masqueraded as boys! I ran my tongue across my whitened Close-Up teeth, arched my back and took to the dance floor. Confidant and coquettish, I po-goed with all my might. I opened up my cosmetic soul to the male universe. I knew as soon as my body temperature increased, the inescapable force of Love's would draw the man of my dreams to me. By the tenth song I was a pungent heap of sickly sweat. No bees had been drawn to my sweet nectar, and the Love's was starting to nauseate me. Despite this warning sign I po-goed harder and faster towards my ruin. Was it because I had neglected to eat dinner, or that I wasn't used to physically exerting myself while wearing a bra? Or was it the light blue lamb's wool sweater that was causing me to over-heat? Whatever it was, I had just bought a one way ticket on the Greyhound bus to Bummerville. Dizzy and throbbing with pain, my head started floating independently from my body. Raw from the fumes, my nostrils became home to an ontological inferno. My throat was swelling from the inhalation of this toxic, supposed aphrodisiac! The slow dance music began. We spazzoid 7th graders yielded the floor and stood in awe of the coupled 8th graders. They were divine in the dimly lit room groping and frenching to the mellow tones of Lionel Ritchie. My stomach churned hard as it sunk in... no Adonis had asked me to dance. A demonic forced hailed from within. I headed towards the rest-room defeated and betrayed. Before I could wipe my blurring eyeliner, I felt the first torrid heave. I stumbled into a stall and pressed my forehead against the cold metal partition. The miasma of warmed Love's consumed my entire being. This had become my personal Danse Macabre. My pink world had turned black. As I hovered above the abyss, I struggled to keep my purse from falling into the toilet. Another dry heave. Tears hit the toilet seat. I swear I heard some bitter 8th graders whisper I must be O.D.ing ... I was ! How could I explain that I was vomiting the lies of adolescence I had been gorging on since that first game of Mystery Date? I started grabbing toilet paper and trying to wipe the vile stench off my body. The toilet paper disintegrated into a thousand tiny pieces that clung to my damp skin. My heart pounded faster. I prepared to bow down to the throne. I was crying. I was shaking. I pushed my hair back and released the remains of that days' lunch into the odor-ramic punch bowel. My destiny floated before me. The catharsis had taken place. I returned to my body, saturated with shame and disgust. I emerged from the stall as my friends made their way to the rest room. "Isn't this great?" echoed a voice against the tile wall. I started cranking the handle of the paper towel dispenser. What could I say? How does one articulate you are not a "swallower" of pre-fab corporate illusions? While Kirsten reapplied her mascara, I pressed the rough paper of the towel against my clammy face and tried to blot away the pain. I had sold my dignity in the hope of becoming criteria for some guy's nocturnal emission. What had I done? What had I become?

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