When I was young I am pretty sure that the tv commercials were directed right at me. Now, you have to understand that we only had three channels on our tv set. Thank god we didn’t have QVC or Home Shopping Network then because I would have been grounded for using my mom’s credit card every other day. Well, if we had credit cards back then too. Shit, we didn’t have much back then.
First of all, Saturday morning cartoons rocked back in the 60′s. I got up early and watched them all morning. Well, before my mom shooed us outside to play. I loved Foghorn Leghorn. He was my hero. I would sit glued to the tv set all freaking morning, because the commercials were just as exciting for me. And when I first saw a commercial for Soaky Bubble Bath Time, I was beyond excited. I mean, you could take a bubble bath AND have a prize. The bottle was a cartoon character. This was unbelievable to me. I’m sure I was sitting there with my mouth open. This was an exciting time for this little skinny little seven year old. The year was 1963……. and it was bath time.
Soaky Bubble Bath Time….Wow, what a great way to take a bath. I had to have this. My mom, however, was never on board with anything at first. She came up with an excuse that as a seven year old I could not possibly understand.
“Vickie, I am not buying bubble bath soap………….it will not make you any cleaner…………..no it won’t…………no it won’t……………Vickie, there is so a bar of soap in the bath tub………………………….yes there is………………well, I’ll tell you what, let’s go and take a look…………………………..Ok, where did you hide the soap?”
Ha! I knew she was going to cause me some problems, so I hid the soap before we had this conversation. I was soaky bubble bath time smart. But, then she confused the hell out of me.
“Vickie, I am NOT buying you this so-called Soaky Soapy Bubbles.” Ok, first of all, stupid mom, it was called Soaky Bubble Bath Time. But, I let her go this time, because she was not finished.
“The soap can give you an infection.” What? Sitting in a bath tub can give you bronchitis? My mom was a loon. Oh, but once again, she was not finished. She saw the expression on my face and decided she needed to be more precise with her statement. “It can make your deet itch, Vickie.”
Ok, I have to tell you that I thought everyone in the world called their female private part a “deet.” That’s what my mom called it. When I was young I always had to make sure that I washed “down there real good” when it was bathtime. And of course, I knew when I was quite young that that area was always last with the washcloth. And you know, well, that was always a great piece of advice. But, I didn’t want an itchy deet. But, was she lying? She lied to me a lot.
“Vickie, Dr. Parker said that bacteria in the water can make your deet itch…………………I realize that soap is not bacteria………When did Dr. Parker tell me this? A while ago………………yes, he did…………….yes, he did……….Vickie, I am not going to argue about this. I am not buying bubble bath. I can’t use bubble bath.
Why the hell would my mom use a Popeye Soaky Bubble bath bottle? She doesn’t even watch cartoons. She made no sense. And when she said “no,” that only meant one thing: ask Dad or Grandma.
So, the next time I stayed at my grandparent’s house was the first time I bathed with a Soaky Bubble Bath Time. I have no idea which cartoon character I took a bath with first, but I am thinking it was Elmer Fudd. But, I could be making that up. I can’t remember. Grandma Orpha always thought I was going to drown or she was cheap as shit because she only gave me about 1/2 inch of bath water. Well, it wasn’t up to my armpits like we had it at home every night. I poured in a cap of the bubble bath and played for a while. I loved going to my grandmother’s house. I asked her if I could take Elmer Fudd home to share with my brother and sister. Yeah, like I was really going to do that. Grandma said I could take it home with me. My mom was not amused.
“Vickie, it can’t make your deet itch right away.”
Ok, fruit loop, how long does it take? Well, it didn’t matter. It was already brought into the house and we used it that very same night. I still took a bath with my sister, so we had a good old time. We played “Ethel and Mabel” most nights during bath time anyway, so adding bubbles to the mix made bath time so much more fun. We used up all of the washcloths and put soap in the middle of the washcloths and then would fold the cloth over the soap and then punch it to make the soap spurt out. What fun we had. We stayed in there until our fingers looked pruney. My mom didn’t care. She was able to sit and smoke a few cigarettes in peace while we were in the bath tub.
“Bath time isn’t quite the same without your cartoon buddies!”
So began our soapy bubble bath time. We bought them left and right. We had Mr. Magoo and Popeye, and Sylvester kitty cat. My dad even had a use for Sylvester. He had a huge flagpole in the backyard and somehow the finial blew away or just fell off of the top of the flagpole. So, what did he put up at the top of the flagpole for all the neighbors to see every day? You got it. Sylvester the cat’s head.
Yes, we Mendenhalls were high class, that’s for sure. But, what is for sure is that reports came out years later that bubble baths weren’t so good for girls and women…..and their deets. But, it was already too late. We went through a lot of bottles of Soaky Bubble Bath time soap without any “girl” problems. My best friend, Ramaine, and I would even laugh and say, “deet de deet” and sing it to the Pink Panther theme song when we realized that no one else called it that. It was now our private little joke. Why the hell did my mom call it that?
Just a few minutes ago, here in 2012, I private messaged Ramaine on facebook and asked her if she called her deet anything else when she was little. It’s so funny that I can still ask her stuff out of the blue as bizarre as what we called our deets back in the 60′s and she immediately has an answer for me. I mean, when was the last time we talked about our deets? When we were 13? Her memory is so much better than mine. She reminded me about the “deet de deet” and that in her family they called it “cho cho.” I guess each family may call it different things, like how my mom called my little budding breasts, “mosquito bites.”
In the end, I am just glad I never went the bath salt route. Because, we all know what happens when people use bath salts. An itchy deet would be the least of their problems.