It’s grievous bodily injury week here at The Great Unwashed and we’re celebrating with vigor. Remember the story of the old lady who swallowed a fly? I’ve always thought that woman was crazy after reading that she swallowed a spider, a cat, a dog and so on. However after what happened the other day I can now empathize with the old lady. Sometimes when things go bad the only option is to make them worse.
I’m attempting to stain a fifty year old dining set. I say attempting because currently I’m on my third try after two failed coats of varnish. My grandmother was upset with me when she heard that I had been attempting to spread the finish with a rag “Use a brush otherwise it’s a waste of stain and rags- Grandpa’s underwear doesn’t grow on trees you know.”
Ok she may not have said the last part, but it was implied by her incredulous tone of voice upon hearing how I had been attempting to refinish the table.
Armed with Grandma’s advice, the refinishing job was going splendidly until I needed to wash the brush.
Now as a former lifeguard and a self confessed safety aficionado I am normally all decked out in personal protective equipment; goggles, masks, ear protection, gloves, the whole nine yards. However using a brush meant that my hands were not touching the stain, hence I didn’t wear gloves. So when I went to wash the stain out of the brush I thought to myself “Water washes things, why would I need gloves to wash things?”
Which was how I ended up with stain coated hands. A veteran of being covered in gook I went immediately to my supply of baby oil gel* and smeared it all over my hands.
Baby oil gel will remove most dyes, all temporary tattoos and wax. Unfortunately I discovered what baby oil gel will not remove is varnish. Now my hands were stained brown with a top coat of baby oil. The tub was rapidly being coated in stain as well at this point.
That’s when I decided to get the borax. Tragically I store borax in the cupboard with a glass doorknob, which would not turn because my hands were coated in grease. So I grabbed a glove that I should have been wearing at the beginning of all of this and put it on to open the door.
Sprinkling the borax liberally I began to scrub the now “Mission Oak” brown bathtub with a gloved hand. Suddenly the latex started to get very warm and I realized that a chemical reaction was occurring between the stain and the borax. Remembering the slew of detergent suicides in the media, I threw open our front door and the window hoping to air out the room. The borax worked a little bit but kept heating up so I tried regular soap.
Unfortunately following an afternoon of unsupervised science experiments all of the soap in our house looked like this.
So it didn’t work very well. And now the wonky shaped soap had a coat of “Mission Oak” stain too.
After all of that the tub was clean. As long as the lights were off and you squinted it looked almost white. I was on the verge of being late to meet a friend so I hopped in to shampoo my hair and shower.
The ensuing shriek as I slid down and sideways out of the tub could be heard four houses away because the front door was still open. The tub was white (ish) but the borax and science experiment soap had not cut through the layer of baby oil.
The only way I could shower was by crouching, which didn’t work well as the drain was clogged with a mixture of stain, borax and oil. While I shampooed my hair, the tub gradually filled with water and there was a grimy layer on the top.
So I had to walk the fine line of staying crouched enough so I wouldn’t slip on the baby oil but not so crouched that my lower half got coated in the varnish and borax combination floating on the surface. Although the words “I preserved it just for you” are very sweet I don’t think shellacking my kootch and bum would go over well with my husband.
I realized that I was going to be late when I emerged from the shower dirtier than when I went in. Texting my friend “Late. Have story.” I grabbed a bottle of dish detergent from the kitchen and took another swipe at cleaning the tub. The Palmolive cut through the baby oil and I was able to shower standing up this time to get rid of the film that had formed on my legs.
In the future I’m going to ask my grandmother what to do after completing a staining job. I have a feeling it will involve gloves and more underpants.
*My friend upon hearing this story said “Why do you have so much baby oil gel?” which I thought was a silly question given how often I end up covered in some sort of dye thus it seems obvious why we would have bottles and bottles of it lying around. But there is one other purpose for baby oil gel which I will cover in another post.