Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Well That Was Unexpected

Anna's new phrase, uttered a hundred times a day is "well, that was unexpected". Even when it clearly wasn't - case in point Lucy grabbing Anna's bowl of 'Gorilla Munch' cereal and dumping it on the floor. I mutter 'oh bloody hell' trying to blame Anna, but seriously, I put a 4 year old in charge of a 8 month old, who really needs reprimanding? Anna will look cheerfully at the puddle of milk rapidly soaking in the carpet and repeat "well, that was unexpected". Lucy, ecstatically slapping her milky hands on the table in agreement.

You would think that if Anna were going to pick up a phrase from our house to parrot it would be "oh for the love of God, someone get a cloth".

I know that unexpected things are not always a disappointment. I once received a Tiffany diamond necklace in the pocket of a dressing gown after all. My trouble is when I mentally expect something new to be fabulous and then face crushing disappointment.

Well, may be not crushing disappointment, most of the things on the list are food items after all, but you'll get my point.

I grew up watching Paddington Bear and reading Narnia books. I longed for marmalade sandwiches and turkish delight.

Bleurgh. Disaster. Why did Paddington Bear hide marmalade sandwiches under his hat? Cheese and pickle - now there's a snack to squirrel away. As for the White Witch giving Edmund turkish delight - I had visions of the most delicious confection known to man. I've developed a taste for it now, but that first bite of rose-scented gelatinous goop as a child was a devastating blow.

There were equal disappointments when moving to the States and faced with an entirely new culinary world. Twinkies? I think you have to grow up with them to appreciate these bizarre anemic sponge cakes - and I'm not just knocking American junk food, believe me, I could live off Jalapeno Cheetos and I don't think there's a natural ingredient in them.

Root beer? Can you imagine more of a disappointment to a Brit than coming to the US and discovering that root beer is what the British know as mouthwash. Strange but true. Mouthwash in the US is mint flavoured. In the UK it's mouthwash flavour - ie 'root beer' flavoured. It's a bit of a shocker that first time you have a root beer float and discover you're having a big dollop of ice cream in your mug of Plax.

One man's root beer float is another man's mouthwash cocktail.

This same bizarre taste/flavour reversal happened on our recent trip back the UK. When I left England many years ago every high street was awash with the nose-hair strippingly strong scent of Body Shop 'Dewberry'. In the last 10 years Molton Brown have become the new must-have toiletry. On my first visit back I actually thought this was a shop peculiar to Harrogate. Why I thought that when a) it wasn't related to tea, and b) it clearly said 'Molton Brown London' is beyond me. One more visit back home and suddenly every single bathroom sink was sporting a bottle of MB lotion. Not such a shock really after I found out that my Mum had been giving it to every relative for birthdays and Christmas.

The point is, I loved the smell of their Rose Granati, and had already made up my mind to buy a bottle of shower gel while we were back in England. Economic meltdown be damned, I was splashing out.

Well, imagine my disappointment when I found out that they only do Rose Granati in hand soap - not in shower gel. I had to purchase something though, as Little Britain has mentioned before, the US under-performs in the area of shower gel, and I knew if I was going to get some I had to get some in England. LK was already beginning to tire of the Molton Brown shop, the pull of the whiskey in the nearby Oddbins was getting stronger, so I made a snap decision.

Heavenly Gingerlily sounded good to me. I bought it (even in pounds it seemed like a ridiculous amount of money for some smellies). We lugged it back to America and I started using it. After a couple of seconds I thought - hang on, this smells awfully familiar. Why is that? I couldn't quite place it - it was reminding me of something medicinal, but clearly the sweet smell wasn't at all clinical. What could it be?

Nair hair removal cream.


I no longer smelled expensive and exotic, I smelled like cheap supermarket hair remover. Thanks Molton Brown!

There is a happy ending. My Mum - probably thinking that our sink needed a little something - sent me some Rose Granati for my birthday. I am thoroughly enjoying using it. Until I realize it smells like toilet cleaner of course.


american mum said...

Hah. I try that, too. The leaving the 4 year old in charge bit. Only his phrase is "Don't you dare." Lovely.

Muddling Along Mummy said...

Have you noticed how difficult it is to get non-minty mouthwash in the UK now - spent ages trying to find bog standard mouthwash when pregnant (mint made me hurl) ... just need to order root beer to get the same result !

And yes, now you mention it the MB stuff does remind me of nair ... but thanks to budget cuts we no longer have MB in the loos at work and a much nicer smelling cheaper alternative !

mccutcheon said...

I just love how your blog posts make me double over with laughter :D

mouthwash? rootbeer? hilariously written! btw: here in austria mouthwash is all kinds of minty, but rootbeer was a disappointment to me nonetheless...

Eden Kennedy Onassis said...


Anonymous said...

I am SO with you on root beer. My husband thought I was joking at first, but really it just seems bizarre to me to want to drink a whole glass of mouth wash.

Hyphen Mama said...

*One man's root beer float is another man's mouthwash cocktail.*


Muddling Along Mummy said...

This shouldn't be unexpected - have tagged you over at mine !

Karen @ If I Could Escape . . . said...

Oooh, I quite like root beer, but am with you on Turkish Delight! I am still a big fan of The Body Shop's White Musk but forgot to stock up when I was over during the summer. They do sell it here, but it's so expensive!

Jane said...

Wonderful post!
As to the reference to Nair - it's been beyond me since I came to the US, why a company would call a product something that looks like it says HAIR? Every time my family come over, I have to hide it away before my short sighted mother mistakes it for shampoo. Now that really would result in a serious disappointment.
BTW - I've always loved root beer. Smells like Germolene to me.

Anonymous said...

Just discovered your blog and am enjoying your writing so much!! Hilarious and engaging. Hope you write more soon.


Little Britainer said...

Thanks for the shout - and I had the same problem with both marmalade and Turkish Delight. I thought I might acquire a taste for marmalade later in life, and now I live here I feel I REALLY OUGHT to like marmalade. But I still don't. And I didn't get to try Turkish Delight until I was about 13 -- but I knew as soon as I tasted it it was something I would never, ever acquire a taste for. What was Edmund thinking.