Green Food Coloring in My Step-mom’s Shampoo and Other Tales

Recently I was posed with the question, “If you were to write a book about yourself, what would the title be?” Of all the things in my life that take no thought, which is basically nothing these days, was my answer to this inquiry; the very title to this story. With the immediacy of my response came waterfalls of ridiculous childhood events in which I was the main pain in the ass. Tumbling past, barreling over, elbowing its way through was a particular afternoon where my dream to become a famous ballerina changed dramatically to an aspiring, world renowned chemist who was on the brink of finding a cure for Scarlet Fever’s evil twin. This soon to be raging, viral monster was sure to hit Earth’s center stage before nightfall and I was going to save opening night; plus, my nanny Debbie was on her day off so I did not have much time to accomplish this feat. I had to hurry.

Stan Lee was about to meet his match; and Debbie, who I am sure sedated herself the minute the wheels of her ride left our driveway, was most likely looking in the want ads for employment as far away from childcare as she could possibly get.

I was eleven and I guess the idea was that I could be left alone for a few hours; HA!

The coast was clear. Dad was golfing and the local fire department on notice. I had to begin this experiment with utter clarity and a logistically perfect strategy. First, I would find my test tubes (almost empty jars of things I am sure no one would miss that I would empty completely); second, one to twenty ounces of any liquid on the first floor would go directly into said test tubes; third, one to twenty ounces of every liquid on the second floor would go into said test tubes; fourth, shake test tubes to create perfect consistency and wait for bubbles and smoke. Bubbles and smoke always meant the potion was perfect and ready for an unveiling at an annual CDC convention. After half the day whizzed by my test tubes were neither smoking nor bubbling; HOWEVER, they were the most lovely color of goldenrod. If my invention did not cure the world of Scarlet Fever II it could at least be used on the set of Sesame Street as dye for Big Bird’s feathers if ever they should fade. 

Something was missing though, and it was time for some serious thinking; two ice cream sandwiches and a half a bag of potato chips later I still had nothing. I looked around and observed “my lab” had extreme similarities to the plot and visual story-line of The Cat in the Hat Came Back – wherever I must have gone, so did the mess; instead of a stubborn pink ring gone wild, it was goldenrod goo giving away my every step. 

Either my  arteries froze in gluttonous shock or reality struck hard like Cinderella’s impending midnight doom – I had a half an hour to clean up before my dad got home and if the lab was not exactly the way he left it I would never see my solitary autonomy again! 

As I scooped up the remnants of my snack and began putting things away I found a bottle of blue food coloring tipped every so slightly and resting oh so gently upon a half eaten bag of Bugles. I grabbed it, eyed my test tubes and thought….’This will be cool!’ Soon, all my test tubes were a snappy color of freshly cut Spring grass and onward to the rest of the house I went with Clorox Wipes and a broom!  As if I literally was THE Cat in the Hat I saw my dad’s car coming around the corner onto our street from the upstairs window. I looked down at my experiment and decided that I would hide the potion in a half empty shampoo bottle in the guest room that no one really used. It was a perfect plan; the viral cure would stay hidden until I was ready to share my miracle with the world!

Well……..the next weekend arrived swift and furious like a desert storm. Debbie left on her day off and the woman my father was dating for quite a while decided to stay with us for a few days. Some couples decide it’s best to gently transition a new person into a child’s life, so our house guest chose to take her shower and her intimates into the guest room. This particular Saturday morning my dad and I were peacefully drinking freshly squeezed OJ and eating bagels when all of a sudden the sounds from a 70’s horror film infiltrated every nook and cranny of the house,


I froze. 

My experiment.

Our house guest, my soon-to-be stepmother, came into the kitchen drippy and raging and green; she grabbed her car keys, her huge duffel and skidded down the driveway like Mario Andretti; her tire streaks most likely matching Debbie’s to perfection.

This moment became a metaphor for our future together as “Shampoo Gate” did not stop this woman from marrying my father, and I continued to get in trouble constantly for outcomes that were not meant to happen; well, most of the time. I have been compared to Streisand’s character Judy in What’s Up Doc and/or Dennis the Menace – both of whom were the centerpiece of disaster whether purposeful or not….

Our youngest was blamed years ago for two specific things; one, he threw a ball into our living room window because he “Just wanted to see what would happen.”

 The window shattered of course. 

Second,  after enjoying a game of pouring water from one Dixie cup to another to see how long he could keep it up, the basement rug filled with water from the bottom up drowning our toes with hydration; we were furious.

It was a water line break and no amount of Dixie cup shenanigans could have produced that much water. 

There are a plethora of similar instances – believe you me! But let’s conclude shall we?

Two weeks ago this 12 year old mini me asked if he could make cookies by himself; I spurted, blurted, exclaimed, “NO!” 

“But why?”

I shrugged, plugged in the Kitchen Aid Mixer, kissed the top of his crazy tufty head,  put on a hazmat suit and evacuated the kitchen.

Thank you to the Passionistas Project Group for the inspiration!