Friday, June 16, 2006

Back to Coxsackie (again)

I've got some sort of stomach thing that is really not good. I've been perched atop the porcelain throne for the better part of the last 12 hours or so. I think it's punishment. Last night I was watching Sister Sister, and there was a team rivalry and they dyed the other team's uniforms "powder puff pink." The other team retaliated with bad brownies and one of them ate one and was having stomach issues, and I laughed... within an hour, guess where I was. Yup, on the toilet, thinking about "powder puff pink."

Funny how, at times like those, my mind wanders. There I sit, on the toilet, thinking about powder puff pink, and where do I end up?

When I was a child of about 8, we lived in a 4 family apartment in Coxsackie NY. We were poor, very poor, though I never really understood that money (or the lack of it) was an issue, I was miserably unhappy. I had no friends, only a mean-spirited bully as my constant companion, my father had recently left my mother, we'd recently left NC to move to NY where I never fit in. My whole life had been turned inside out, I was having health issues, stomach issues actually, that resulted in my spending much time in the bathroom.

On the back of the toilet were trinkets, knick knacks, and my mother's perfume. Ambush, both that quirky retro bottle and the dusting powder, in a round pink box, with a beautiful pink powder puff. I loved the smell when I was young, loved that damn powder puff too. I thought it was the most elegant thing I'd ever seen. I'd go in the bathroom and open the box so carefully just to smell it, just to feel that powder puff. If you've ever smelled Ambush (which I doubt you have, even if you have the newer version, which stinks) you'll understand that every time I opened that box, not only did the smell fill that tiny bathroom in Coxsackie NY, it most likely filled the better part of the house. It's an intense fragrance.

But my mother never yelled at me for opening it or messing with it. I'm glad. I know it sounds a strange, but her Ambush Dusting Powder and that puff were my guilty pleasure, they were one of the few sources of beauty and pleasure in my life at that point. If she'd have caught me and yelled at me for doing it, she'd have ruined it, soiled the purity of it. It being "my secret" was so important to me. It would have been a major loss at a time in my life when it seemed like loss and pain were all that existed.

I don't know if she was really unaware, somehow, of my fascination with it, or aware enough that she was kind enough to never mention it. All I know is that while I was locked in that bathroom with that little round box in my hand, surrounded by that fragrance, I thought I had found some rare treasure, and I thought I was special.

I know I post a lot about that period of my life. Seems like after all these years I'd be over it. I'm still sometimes amazed by just how traumatized I was by those few years, and how long-lasting the effects are. It's good though I guess that at least I can finally find some pleasant memories.


  1. Erin, so what you're telling us here is that your shit smells like roses? :)

    You know, while reading this, I remembered back to my grandmother's bathroom. She had a similar powder in a round box on the back of her toilet. It wasn't the same, I'm sure, but I remember it as being luxurious and wonderful, and on the few times that we actually spent the night and I took a bath there, she would dust me in that powder and I would feel beautiful.

    Thanks for sharing your memory, which allowed me to relive my own.

  2. Me too, me too.

    My grandmother had one of those containers of powder with a pink powder puff inside, though it was sort of dull in color from the years of use…the lid was clear, I believe the sun faded it from being placed near the window. (Mom probably had one too but hers wasn’t as magical as grandmas.)

    Okay, I remember her dusting us with powder too when we got out of the bath. Probably why I was always itchy…dry skin and all.

    Anyway, now that I think about it I remember seeing her powder he lower region a time or two.

    And to think I used to smell that thing. Oh Lord, I am now traumatized beyond belief.

    Gads I could have left that part out, but well, it was a strong memory that I had somehow supressed/blocked I guess.

  3. Which reminds me somehow of going to the doctor for the dreaded and annual pap smear.

    They tell you not to bath first, or you know….but I always do.

    So there’s the doc, lifts up the sheet and gets hit in the face with a puff of powder.

  4. lmao Lori... I swear I hope my mother never dusted her nether regions with the stuff! I started to say I was going to ask her, but that's one of those questions that I'm not ready to know the answer to!

    Both of you got dusted... I never got dusted. I don't remember ever being told that I should leave the stuff alone, but in my mind, it was forbidden, that's why it was "magical" so between that, and the idea that my mother might have used it you know where I am very glad I wasn't ever dusted, though still mildly traumatized that I touched it....

  5. James? Were you ever dusted with pretty powder? HAHA I'm an ass.. hee hee

  6. An ass indeed. But to answer your question, yes, fine, almost pretty powder it was I was dusted with.

    But those days are gone.

    And an ass you still are!


  7. lmao James, you're starting to sound like Yoda!


    love you!

  8. A great memory, well written. I hope you're feeling lots better!