So, remember how I was wishing I had designer liquid soap with a matching lavender sponge the way the Enchanted Couple do? WELL!
When I was a pre-teen, I had a friend who got to go to Florida in a big RV for Easter Vacation (not called Spring Break in those days!) one year and it was quite the hoopla over who she chose to take along. She got to take 3 friends. I was in the running, but I lost out. Just not QUITE popular enough. But Panda (not her real name) promised that she would bring us losers a present from Florida. In fact she told us she would bring us each our own tiny bottle of Orange Blossom perfume.
Now the thing about Panda is, she was the top of the heap. The Head Pecker in the pecking order of 'who's Whom' of small town Indiana life. And I so DEEPLY wanted to be her. If I couldn't BE her, then at least I wanted to spend gigantic amounts of time in her company, preferably in her house. But anytime I went over to play, she always wanted to hang out on the sidewalk and play kickball, or go over to the McClurry's where she had a crush on their boy Matt. I thought she was totally nuts. Not the Matt crush part, but the fact that she didn't want to stay indoors and just loll around the stately pleasure dome she called her home.
See, Panda had not one, but TWO bedrooms. One fully decked out in mint green silk with a giant 4 poster bed and two humungous walk in closets crammed with incredible matching outfits and shoes and little girl purses, but a bedroom that was just for show. In it, she had all white wicker furniture, and her doll collection. She had thousands of dolls. She had at least ten sets of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. She had glass cases filled with dolls from exotic lands, in their native costumes. She had baby dolls and 3 year old dolls, and a doll that was designed to look just like Panda. She had an entire TRUNK, and I do mean a steamer trunk, full of discarded Barbie's. They were all naked, and jumbled up together, and I, who owned one perfectly adored and preserved Barbie (and I STILL have her, to this day in her original case, as well cherished as the first day I laid eyes on her beneath the Christmas tree all decked out in her wedding gown), was just yearning to straighten them all up and dress them in their finery and set them in rows around the perimeter of her room. My only concern was that there might be so many of them, they might have to sit two-deep. I never solved that knotty problem because I was never given the opportunity. We had to play outdoors. She thought those dolls and all that abundance was just ordinary. Not fun.
Panda's house had a butlers pantry. I had never heard of such a thing. It had black and white tile floors and white glass-pained cabinets and an entire bank of refrigerators with those black cast-iron door fixtures, the antique kind. Inside were gourmet things. Special things. Olives stuffed with teensy bits of lime or jars of jellied rose petals.
Panda's house had two living rooms. Everything matched. Everything was done by designers. Drapes matched upholstery and pillows matched rugs and it was glorious! Her house had a jungle room, complete with tiki bar and a real live boa constrictor. There was a creepy TIKI God with a huge belly and an M&M belly button. We would regularly pry that M&M out of his stomach and eat it.
I longed to be her best friend and somehow get to metamorphose into her twin sister so I could live there. Even then, I was showing full-fledged Interior Decorator Leanings! Considering how we both turned out, as adults, I'm awfully glad I didn't have my wish come true. But then, way back then, Panda and her world were the Apex of All that was Perfect in the world!
All week long, that Easter Break, I was excited about my longed-for treat of Orange Blossom perfume. I had smelled some once that my glamorous Aunt Patty had gotten from a trip to Florida. To me, it was as exotic as coconuts and lichi blossoms. And best of all, it was deemed an appropriate fragrance for a little girl to wear. Yeah, back in the day when little girls could only have plastic pearls and hankies as gifts, with the occasional Tussy Toilet Water and Bath Powder for special occasions like church. Orange Blossom Perfume was the ultimate.
The first day back at school, there was Panda and her gang, all smelling to high heaven of sticky sweet Orange Blossoms and chewing 900 chews per second on big wads of Orange Bubble Gum. When I approached Panda, ready for my bottle of the goods, she hung her head in shame and announced that she hadn't gotten anybody the perfume, she had decided to get everyone Orange Flavored Bubble Gum instead.
"What?" I was stunned.
"Yeah," she said through sugary orange lips, "And we actually chewed all yours on the way home in the RV. Sorry!"
I never forgave her for that, never. I would like to say, other than my lapse of good manners at thinking I could walk up to someone and DEMAND a gift, I haven't turned out all that badly. And Panda...well, she happened to win the dubious distinction of being the first ever person to be required by law to go to Alcohol Awareness classes in order to keep her driver's license in Indiana. She had a bit of a problem with substance abuse. Her perfectly decorated world of abundance was a showy front to a rather dark, dysfunctional family life.
And me, poverty be damned, I can match my linens with my china and be the happiest girl in the world! Life really is that simple for me.
But then I'm almost forgetting the point of my post, now! This morning, at Trader Joes, I noticed they had some designer bottles of Lavender liquid soap. There were some other scents there, too, so I just smelled them all. Lo and behold! What should waft into my brain but the heavenly fragrance of Orange Blossoms? Trader Joes French Liquid Soap, and the scent is called Orange Blossom Honey. I couldn't believe my nose! I had to buy it, it was so exciting! It's sitting on my sink right now and as soon as I'm finished typing I'm going to wash my hands again, just for the fun of it!
But offer me orange flavored bubble gum? NO THANKS!