I must confess: I have stunk. I never used to stink. Well, hardly ever. My brother, who was several years younger than I, told me frequently enough when we were both under ten that I did. But I’m pretty sure he was being metaphorical.
As an adult, before, when I lived in a more temperate clime, I remember observing that one of the benefits of senior citizenship – to counter thinning hair, perhaps? – seemed to be a reduction in body odor. I was quite pleased with myself.
Then I moved to Panama. May I say that it’s hot here, if you will forgive a major understatement. Even though southern ladies ‘glow’ instead of sweating, I don’t think I have ever glowed the way I do here. By 9am the dew is definitely on the rose. It just sort of blooms, all at once, all over me. My arms and legs are suddenly moist; small beads of water pop out on my forehead. Salt water trickles into my eyes, tickles across my scalp below the hair, down my back, etc. Small rivers of it. When I remove my clothes at night, the day’s glow will have been so incandescent that they are often wet enough to wash without additional liquid.
But they and I did not stink all the time until recently. It took about a year for the shift to happen.
I first noticed it when my 24 hour deodorant began behaving like 24 minute deodorant. And I could not get the smell out of my clothes. I tried everything. Pre-soaking. Different detergent. Anti-bacterial soap for both me and the clothes. Baking soda. Pre-soaking with baking soda. Bleach, where possible. But half an hour after I put the ‘clean’ clothes on, we – the clothes and I – both stank.
I began feeling hesitant to be around other people. Nobody else smelled like I did. Especially not the locals. Why not? What piece of information was I missing?
I hit the internet. And there in The Cloude of Blesséd Informatione, in the midst of all the deodorant ads and special de-stink formulas for dog pee and other unlovely experiences, I found my very simple, very elegant solution. Vinagre blanco. White vinegar.
So the next time I took a “clean” shirt off the line still reeking, I opened a bottle of white vinegar, doused the pits and hung it back up to dry.
A miracle! The stink was gone! And the shirt smelled only faintly of vinegar. Did I care if I smelled like a salad? Hoo! Are you kidding? I grabbed all my stinky shirts and doused them!
Based on the five years I spent as a child in Texas learning the if-a-little-is-good-then-a-lot-is-better method of operation, I took an empty dish detergent bottle and filled it with one-third vinegar, two-thirds water. This I kept in the shower for rinsing my whole self, with special attention to the stinky bits.
But why stop there? I was on a roll. So I started putting vinegar into any food that might taste good with vinegar. And I ate more pickles. Lots and lots and lots of pickles.
And guau (wow), you know what? It WORKED. I no longer stink. My clothes don’t stink, I don’t stink. My deodorant works for more than 24 hours. It’s great. Life is good.
Based on this less-than-scientific study and extrapolating like mad across the process, I am now willing to concede that possibly apple cider vinegar fans may have something. Maybe it really might cure “what ails you.”
When I think back, before I moved to the tropics I used to eat a lot more salad, with apple cider vinegar dressings. And that was because I liked the flavor. And I didn’t stink. Hmm.
If plain white vinegar works such a miracle, what else is possible, vinegar fans? Are we looking at the Cure for Cancer?