Smelling my youth

There are several smells that immediately take me back to my youth – and no, I’m not talking about the smell of frat puke (or other frat smells), or my wannabe mac daddy days bathing in Jovan musk oil.

I’m going way back to the single digits, back to the deep dark 70s, when I was a young, husky lad growing up on Drexel Avenue.

My grandmother lived with us, and she ran a pretty tight ship when it came to cleaning. Two of her go to cleaning products were Pine Sol and Comet cleanser (Yeah, I know, I don’t normally mention brand names in these pages especially since I ain’t getting a shekel’s worth of endorsement fees from either of these corporate giants, but just this once, for the sake of creative license, I’ll put my principles on the shelf!)

A while back at the kid’s school, I got a whiff of a familiar pine smelling product. So I asked the custodian (Because aren’t we all on speaking terms with our kid’s school custodian?) what he was using, and he showed me a commercial-size vessel of good ole Pine Sol.

Pine SolI was immediately propelled back to the days of my grandmother and her trusty mop bucket – old school galvanized steel, of course. Her mop wasn’t anything like the new-fangled plastic contraptions we have now. Nana had a well-worn rag mop – with a strong wooden handle that could have been used as a bo staff in the prison scene from Enter the Dragon.

I wasted no time picking up a bottle of Pine Sol, and it has been my go to cleaning product ever since.

(By the way, grandma’s cleaning genes must not have been invited to the DNA cocktail party that led to yours truly’s Cesarean entry into the world.  If I listed the top 10 things that make happy, mopping wouldn’t be one of them, but on a rare occasion I have been known to toss some suds around.)

I thought that would be it – no more memories of Nana’s fanatical cleaning proclivities, until one day at the 9 to (way past) 5, I stepped into the men’s room, and then I smelled it (no, not that). I smelled the oh so familiar chlorinated aroma of that magical cleaning concoction Comet Cleanser. Our loyal custodian had moved on to continue her appointed rounds. Undaunted (and clearly on the clock for too long and ready to go home), I walked around the office floor until I found – not our custodian – but her trusty cart of cleaning paraphernalia . With no one in view, I took a peek at the various tools of the cleaning trade, and there it was – not the powdered version of my young memories, but a high-tech liquified version.MLC Comet

Comet Cleanser was the enchanted dust Nana used in our bathroom – especially to keep clean certain areas stained by a young boy with poor aim. And if you’re keeping score, yes, in a feeble attempt to relive the days when I could get away with that bad aim, I went out and bought a can of Comet Cleanser.

As I said, housecleaning isn’t something that’s (in my Julie Andrews voice) one of my favorite things, so in the rare occasions when I do perform this chore, it’s fun to bask in the aroma and in one of the pleasant memories of young boy’s life.


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