Following an almost two-week battle in which I nearly conceded defeat – more than once – I appear to have finally shaken my parasitic man-cold thanks to Tylenol, tea, and homemade chicken soup, but have reluctantly let go of a lifelong vice in the process. I’m referring to good old Vicks, the small green-lidded, blue jar packed with cooling physical and emotional relief along with the scent of childhood memories that, based on your age group, you either love or you hate.
Personally, and in all honesty, if it came in powdered form, I’d be rolling up the $20 bill right now. I was in for a shock to discover that the seemingly ubiquitous product was not on my home medicine chest shelf just when I needed it most. And worse, it appeared to have evolved into a sort of controlled substance after it became, for me at least, exceedingly difficult to locate at my local pharmacies.
My stubborn disposition often precludes me from asking for help in finding items in retail outlets. I’d rather wander the aisles fuming at their lack of carrying precisely every product I need rather than simply ask for help in locating it. After meandering aimlessly around two pharmacies and a couple of big-box retailers in an unsuccessful attempt to secure my booty, I arrived at the office in a fouler mood than warranted by the bug.
“Do you need anything?” asked our sales assistant who was just heading out. “Yes, Bicks BapoBub,” I repeated a couple of times as she politely suppressed a snort of laughter. I upped the ante, telling her if she could actually find the tissues impregnated with both lotion and the Vicks smell, I could die happy. The gods smiled down when, on the same day she scored a tub of the elixir that I’ve since discovered has its own Facebook page with a half-million followers, I was able to locate the coveted, fully-loaded tissues at a pharmacy near my home, deliriously forking over about $15 for five boxes, one for the office, the car, and one always within a 10-foot radius in my house.
“Mom, admitting you have a problem is the first step,” said my son.
“I have a problem,” I snapped. “Hand me the damn box.”
My little green mentholated bubble was finally burst by a friend of mine who’s a Montreal police officer when we were both recently commiserating, each fighting off our respective grippes d’homme.
As I described the Tissues of the Gods and my reliance on the coveted jar of greasy magic, he told me how its overuse can actually damage the nerves in the nose, an unfortunate lesson learnt by a number of homicide investigators who would use Vicks daily to mask the odours that came with the territory of their job.
Of course this led to him recounting the story of the first dead body he’d ever encountered on a hot, humid September day in the early 1990s – one that’d lain unclaimed and decomposing for four days in a Montreal West motel room.
My publisher has me on a tight leash after last week’s column so I’ll refrain from further detail except to say that for me, the smell of Vicks is now inextricably tethered to an unfortunate visual.
I still adore the scent but courtesy of my SPVM buddy, no longer close my eyes whilst deeply breathing in its healing aroma.