People often ask me for stories. Sadly, I’m not that good when put on the spot so I’m usually stumped. The worst part is, I brought this on myself.
Many years ago, before I realised how nerve-wracking and, face it, downright irritating demands for stories could be, I used to be the one to ask for them. I’d give people a topic, and then maybe give them an example to help them understand how I didn’t mind if the story were only loosely related.
My favourite story was the one about the soap.
When I was eighteen, one of my best friends was in a terrible accident from which she wasn’t certain to recover. No one was allowed to visit her for the threat of infection, and to be honest I was so frightened by the descriptions of her injuries that I was afraid to see her at all, even though I knew she might not make it.
So, powerless and afraid, my other friends and I did what any normal people will do. We went out drinking. We embarked on a pub crawl that began in The Rocks in Sydney and ended at the Coogee Bay Hotel. At each stop along the way, my drink of choice was Cointreau. On ice.
Then we decided to leave the pubs and their overpriced drinks behind and go to the beach instead. Someone bought a bottle of Cointreau, saying that we’d share it. But after a teeny little taste, it turned out no one else liked it so the bottle was left with me.
It’s unlikely to come as a shock when I say, I don’t remember too much of that night. I do recall shaking the bottle at the end of the night and discovering it was empty. I recall telling everyone all my most shameful secrets, so that for the first time in my life I revealed that I wasn’t Miss Perfect, but rather a naughty, confused and, frankly, terrified young woman who had no idea what I was getting myself into in life.
Then I was severely sick. I was bedridden for three whole days. Once the alcohol poisoning had eased, I tried to shower – and was sick all over again. The hangover didn’t leave for six months. Every morning I’d get out of bed and hop in the shower and my head would spin horrendously.
Until one day I realised that my mother’s orange-scented soap smelled exactly like Cointreau. I was allergic to the soap. It was like my mother was trying to kill me.
And that is my story about soap.
So … What about you? Anyone else have a story about soap? Or Cointreau? Or is there a story you want to hear from me?
PS My friend survived. I actually still can’t get over how amazing that is.