Barry Gibb, my personal hero (shut up!), once said that to this day, whenever he walks by a barber shop, he just assumes he can go in there and buy some Brylcreem. He hasn't needed it in 40 years, but still he thinks, "I wonder if they have any Brylcreem in there?"
That's exactly how I feel about the products of my youth. You know what I thought of the other day?
Yucca Dew. Do you remember Yucca Dew? I dew. If you took out all the crap that's in my head—such as the entire lyrics to the show "Angie"—and replaced it with real knowledge, I could save the world, I think. Yucca Dew was a shampoo in the '70s, touted by an authentic Native American woman, who knew from dry desert hair. I mean, she seemed authentic to me while living in Michigan and having dry Midwestern-landscape hair. I probably bought Yucca Dew once and realized no Native American could cure this hair, but I love the idea that it's still out there, even though it probably isn't. You know what else I miss?
Sweet Earth Solid Fragrances. My uncle's high-school girlfriend was super cool, and I wanted to be exactly like her, faded bell-bottoms, clogs and all. She left at my grandma's a compact of this solid perfume that came in three scents: Clover, Hay and Gingergrass. I don't have the slightest clue what a gingergrass is, but I know I'd experiment with each scent with the seriousness of, well, some serious inventor person who I cannot name because my brain is full of the lyrics to "Angie." Was I a Hay or was I a Clover? I poked at each perfume and did a lot of … solid research. Oh, how I'd love to smell those perfumes again.
Breakfast Squares. I still crave them. They were square, so I was getting my three squares (bah!), and they had a kind of smooth, chalky, nothin'-but-chemicals taste I dearly miss. They came in many flavors, including artificially flavored chocolate, artificially flavored cinnamon for when you were feeling spice-ayyyy, and the one I miss the most: artificially flavored vanilla. They were a complete light meal in two little squares! Or, in my case, a complete delicious snack when you're watching "Room 222."
The Floating Rib. My entire childhood was spent watching soaps, even though my mother expressly forbade it. What my mother did not understand was the extent of my aunts' and grandmother's unshaking addiction to these shows, and I was with those women a lot. This is how I got hooked on "General Hospital" by the age of 9. At the time, I thought nothing of the fact that the characters hung out at a restaurant called The Floating Rib. Now sometimes I wake up and think, "The Floating Rib?" I miss my pre-cynical days, when it didn't strike me odd that Laura's last names were Vining Faulkner Webber Baldwin Spencer Cassadine Spencer before she was even 25.
Yardley Frosted Lipstick. I don't even know who gave me this: Mom? Best friend's mom? My uncle's same super-cool green-eye-shadowed girlfriend? It didn't matter. What mattered was that pink and orange suddenly looked great together, as did a 6-year-old with white lips. If there'd been child beauty pageants in my day, I'd have OWNED them in my Yardley lips.
1.2.3 Jell-O. My mother always provided dessert, every night, and if I could include "Mom emerging from the kitchen with sweets" in my list of things I miss, I would. The thing I'd still love to taste is 1.2.3 Jell-O. The top layer was frothy, the next layer also frothy but slightly less so (I know, I should really be a food writer), and the bottom was Jell-O as you know and love it. I can so taste the red flavor, and maybe it came in a phony fruit name like "strawberry," but I assure you, it tasted like red—frothiest, unfrothier, and then smooth red. And it was pretty, too!
Tickle. Staying dryer is nicer with a little tickle. That was their slogan, and please see above reference to the crap that's in my head, taking up all the room so trigonometry can't get in. The shape of the bottle was cool, the polka dots nearly killed me they were so cute, and I pored over the scents, trying to decide which would suit me. Should I smell herbal? Like citrus? Would it clash with my solid Hay perfume? I think I just finally went with the color I liked, which will always be pink, and I was not disappointed. Now my deodorant comes in a staid blue oval, stern and hardworking, like a calloused nanny.
I'm sure once I finish this story, I'll think of more crap I miss from that time. One wonders what I'll miss from this decade, in 2055.