Friday, February 13, 2009

Flashback Friday: The Great Lotion Security Breach of the Early 1990s


My brother Daniel with baby Miriam. He loves doing bunny ears in photos, even on a 3-month-old infant.


Today's Flashback Friday story takes place right here in the good old US of A. In fact, it takes place in the house where I grew up, in the area of Portland, Oregon.

You met my brother Daniel back when he won a bunch of (fake) money gambling in a Gold Rush town in Alaska. In that Flashback Friday, I mentioned that one of the special things about Daniel is that he has Cornelia deLange Syndrome (CdLS). Another special thing about Daniel is that he is extremely sensitive to smells.

I don't mean extremely sensitive in a medical sense. I mean that he has an intense, personal, irrational aversion to scented lotions, soap, perfumes, etc. He would probably be disgusted by scented hand sanitizer if any of us were brave enough to use some in front of him. I grew up with the Daniel-given nickname "Lotion #1" (Lotion #2 was my sister Teresa), in honor of occasionally using, well, lotion.

I have memories of Daniel walking around the house for weeks at a time with a kleenex taped over his nose so he didn't have to smell us with all our scented lotion. He would put a kleenex over the mouse of the computer whenever he had to use it, so he didn't have to risk transferring any lotion onto his hand. If either of us girls had just taken a shower, and the bathroom smelled even the slightest bit like girly shampoo or soap, Daniel would turn on the fan to flush out the smell. In fact, he would turn on the fan just about every time he walked by the bathroom, whether it "reeked" or not, much to the frustration of all the rest of us. Just about the worst thing anyone could do was put on lotion in his presence. Knowing that we did it when he wasn't watching was bad enough for him - to do it right in front of him was sure to inspire an anti-lotion tirade and a big show of covering his nose and fleeing to his bedroom. Daniel's bedroom was a haven for him, a sanctuary free of lotions and perfumes and other vile smells, a place where he could be safe.

Irrational? I suppose. Annoying at times? Certainly. The perfect setup for a prank? OH YEAH.

One day, I guess enough was enough. My little brother Steven decided to take matters into his own hands. I don't know if my sister Teresa and I were accomplices or merely witnesses; to avoid incurring any further wrath from Daniel than I already have during my lifetime, I'll plead the latter.

To set it up, Steven waited until Daniel left his room. Then, he grabbed a bottle of girly-scented body spray from our bathroom and snuck in. Daniel slept on the bottom bunk of a bunk bed (a situation which has since changed, perhaps as a result of this incident), so to remain undetected, Steven climbed up to the top bunk and hid himself under the covers. He waited silently and patiently until finally, Daniel came walking back into the room, completely unsuspecting. He sat down on the edge of the bottom bunk and started reading a book or listening to music, two of his favorite activities in this, his personal haven from lotion.

The minutes passed. Steven remained hidden on the top bunk, scented body spray in hand. At just the right moment, just when Daniel was sure he would not be assaulted by Lotion #1 or Lotion #2, Steven stuck his hand out from under the blankets, and pumped out a few sprays from the bottle. Slowly, microscopic droplets of Vanilla Flower Splash or whatever descended to settle on the nearest hard surface, which happened to be Daniel, directly below.

It took a few seconds for the enormity of what had just happened to sink in. One moment, Daniel was reading quietly. The next, his head had snapped up and his senses were on high alert. Teresa and I were hidden nearby and we were already pretty much giggling hysterically.

"Oh my gosh," Daniel said. And then again: "OH. MY. GOSH."

"What is that?!? What is that SMELL?" Then he was up and off the bed, searching for the source of the security breach. At this point, Steven blew his cover from laughing so hard and hopped down from the top bunk to escape.

He ran out of the room. Daniel ran after him. Teresa and I stood by and laughed and laughed and laughed.

I'm sure my parents heard the commotion and took care of the situation, probably by punishing Steven somehow. Which I suppose was the right thing to do in the interest of fairness, but you have to admit, the prank was a stroke of genius.

To this day, I am still occasionally called Lotion by Daniel. Sometimes, in moments of greater affection, it is shortened to simply "Losh." I like to think that Daniel thinks back to the Great Lotion Security Breach of the Early 1990s with fondness, but it's possible that maybe, just maybe, it is his own personal day that will live forever in infamy.

10 comments:

Suzanne Bubnash said...

That's one of our most amusing family stories. You kids were so bad.

In Daniel's book he has 'days of infamy' nearly every day when I straighten his clothing or apply a razor to his face. Doesn't matter if my hands are pristine from scrubbing, he claims they reek like lotion. He has convinced himself that any female hands are contaminated w/ something smelly at all times. And he transfers that to anything that belongs to me, including my car! It's a source of never-ending amusement around here.

sarah said...

haha how funny! that is awesome. doesn't jeremy have an aversion to girly lotions as well?

Nancy said...

Awesome! :) And what a sweet nickname for you, too! Even after the LSB.

Anonymous said...

That was hilarious!

I don't know anyone whose aversion to scented lotions is quite that strong, but daily tirades from my dad about my scented products stinking up the car were a feature of my high school years.

Hannah

Kristen said...

I laughed and laughed and laughed just reading it, so I can only imagine witnessing this. Losh. That's awesome.

Jeremy Palmer said...

Dear Suzanne,

By "car" are you referring to your van? Just checking.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

oui monsieur, ma voiture

Britney said...

This was hilarious.

Sharon and Spencer said...

That's a funny story. You are probably one of the most interesting people I know. You have so many experiences from your background!

Teresa Jane said...

How could I forget? I actually PLANNED it and was also on the top bunk... weren't you, too? My favorite was when Daniel would be reading with headphones and I would switch out his nearby tissue he was occasionally dabbing on his nose with a scented dryer sheet. The next time he reached for it and put it to his nose, he would screech and squeal like an opera soprano!

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