Thursday, September 15, 2011


For those of you that don't follow blogs (besides this little gem, of course), bloggers sometimes give each other little awards to make each other feel special.  Usually they involve telling 7 things no one knows about you or something that I have no idea how to answer and fear would bore you all to tears. 

Well, almost a full month ago, my e-friend Leslie gave me an award, but this one is fun.  You tell a story.  I'm supposed to not tell you whether it's real or not, but it is. And so is the psychosis I developed because of it.

So, in honor of getting the Blog On Fire Award, here's some entertainment for y'all.
My husband and I were discussing one of my childhood experiences that has become legendary in my family and I thought I'd share.  My mom is going to object to me telling this but despite her protestations she'll laugh too and tell everyone that she wasn't determined to make me so miserable all the time.

When I was in elementary school we went on a vacation where we rented a motor home and traveled the wild west. 

One stop was Bryce Canyon.  It's a beautiful, dramatic canyon full of red spires of rock.  

Nice place for the fam to visit, right?  Right.  But here's the problem: as our motorhome lumbered up to the canyon visitor's center something was happening that, from the picture you can see, was very usual.

It was raining.

I'm sure I'm remembering it accurately as a gentle sprinkling of rain.  Like a fine mist.  But my mother got the idea that what we needed to protect us from this torrential downpour was some ponchos and my father was tasked with entering the visitor's center to find some.

At this point, please refer back to the above picture and decide for yourself whether rain ponchos seem likely to be sold at their gift shop. 

Correct.  Bryce Canyon gets 10" of rain per year.  No one, in the entire history of the Earth, has worn a rain poncho at Bryce Canyon.  No one. Not modern sight-seers, not American Indians who used to live there, not even aliens who landed there thousands of years ago when searching for a place to build the pyramids.  I believe "Bryce" is the Indian word for "don't need a poncho."

And of course there were no ponchos for sale. My father, ever the problems solver, decided some trash bags with holes cut out for arms and head would satisfy his wife's worries.  Which is not a bad idea.  Not necessary, but not a bad idea in itself.  The point at which the idea went terribly wrong is when there were no black garbage bags for sale.  Or even any innocuous white ones.  No, the only option was bright yellow LEMON SCENTED garbage bags.

Now I love the smell of real lemons as much as everyone else.  But we can all agree that "cleaner lemon" scent is not the same.  It has that sear-the-back-of-your-throat quality to it.  Like someone bottled up and resold the runoff from cleaning Chernobyl. 

My older sister and brother (6 and 4 years older respectively) took one whiff of the bags and declined.  Apparently my parents realized they were too old to manhandle and agreed to let them weather the deluge without toxic "raincoats".

My younger sister, Cheryl (2 years younger) squealed with delight and danced around in anticipation of getting to wear something so cheery.

Like any sane person I was in the camp of the older children and informed my parents that I wasn't wearing one either.  Although this was clearly the rational decision, my mom ignored my God-given right to not be smothered by soul-sucking lemon stench and replied matter-of-factly that I was going to wear one.

I said no.

She said yes.

I said NO.

She said YES.

I began to cry.

She ignored me and stuck my sister into the one my dad had created.  Cheryl started skipping around singing "Six Little Ducks."  Oh, how I still hate that song.

I started bawling.

My mom ignored me and crammed the second poncho over my head.

I started hacking and coughing as the bag tried to suffocate me with fumes. I sobbed and gagged and whined and pleaded.

And my mother remained firm.

My older siblings who had been slowing sidling away from us took this opportunity to get as far from us as possible.  They headed down the path toward the canyon mocking the lunatic family behind them in the yellow garbage bags. 

I continued to cry and try to conceal myself behind my mother in embarrassment. I admit there's a chance that my attempts to hide were sabotaged by my crying.  My mom and dad walked on in a carefree sort of way with my sister beside them still skipping and still singing "Six Little Ducks."  (Note: My kids like that song.  Every SINGLE time it comes on in the car from their Toddler Favorites cd, I grind my teeth and have to take deep, calming breaths of fresh, non-lemon-scented air.)

I slunk behind my mother the entire 10 mile walk to the canyon.  Yes, I'm sure it was that long.  It was at least long enough to create a life-long aversion to lemon scent.  Not like, "Ugg, I don't like lemon scented cleaners," but like, (gag) "SOMEONE GET THAT LEMON SCENTED WIPE OUT OF THIS HOUSE! (cough...wheeze) HOLY MOSES!  GET IT OUT OF HERE!  (hack) NO, DON'T THROW IT IN OUR TRASH - PUT IT IN THE NEIGHBOR'S!"

The mortifying trip ended at the edge of the canyon.  The rain clouds had sank into the canyon and the red spires were drenched in sunlight as they shot up grandly through the mist.  After desperately fighting my way out of my garbage bag and throwing it downwind from myself, I remember standing there and admiring the beauty of the canyon.  The photo above does not come close to showing the beauty that we got to see that day.  The clouds and the rock and the sunshine were absolutely breathtaking.

Breathtaking enough to make up for the lemon scented garbage bags?  No. No sight on earth is worth that.

And yes, I believe this is a completely factual retelling of the event without prejudice or exaggeration.  Poor little lemon-scared me.   


  1. Comment: Please keep writing. It brings sunshine and happiness to otherwise boring blah days like this. Yay Janiceblog!!!!!

    P.s. It's harder to leave comments than I thought. I had to go to ALL the work of logging into my google account and everything! Shersh, the work! Well, I GUESS the mother of my nieces and nephews is worth it. ;). So long as you keep writing that is.

  2. I have similar feelings about bottled peach scent. But it comes from you and Cheryl covering your poo in our suite bathroom.
    To be honest, I feel for your mother here. She was obviously trying to follow through on her dictate. I am sure she was horrified that she was actually forcing her child to wear a lemon-scented makeshift poncho in a parched barren desert.

  3. I totally missed this post! It's so great!
    You're an effortless comedic writer and I strongly recommend that you get into the business. Yes. Do it.

    As for the lemon scented attempted smothering...I'm willing to bet that you are remembering it all wrong and that it was only a 9 mile hike.


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