50 years ago most Italian farm houses didn’t have indoor plumbing, I’m told. Now, most of them are Bed and Breakfasts or Agriturismi. Lots of things have changed in 50 years. Can you think of something that hasn’t?
I can. It’s the nauseating, fetid and malodorous stench of hairspray.
Yes, my mother is visiting. How did you guess?
Here’s a tip for those of you with mothers. Have them visit you in a month in which the weather is good enough for you to stand without shivering in front of a wide open pair of shutters leading to a garden loaded with flowers that give off a sweet perfume. This month is not April.
I mean, I can’t believe that the egregious stench of hairspray hasn’t been changed one iota in 50 years. I understand why they’ve altered the odor of the gas you cook with. It’s hideous for a reason—you smell a gas leak and it makes you think something is really, really wrong that requires your immediate attention.
But why should a similar noxious odor accompany a product made for the purpose of gluing your hair together in entirely unnatural ways that appeals to folks of a particular age? This is what I don’t understand.
Get inside a car with a woman devoted to the sticky goodness of hairspray and the ensuing process is not unlike the dreaded “endless do-loop” in programming; if you open the car window so you can breath normally, then her hair (the “do”) becomes unglued, and there needs to be more hairspray applied, which means the window needs to be opened more or the car driven faster to get more fresh air into it, which necessitates even more hairspray…
But hairspray works wonders along the byways of Italy, Sardinian bus drivers have told us. A generous cloud of the stuff aimed toward the license plates makes them just glossy enough to be difficult to read by those automatic ticketing machines that are popping up alongside Italian roads faster than poppies lately.
Bet you didn’t think I could turn this story back to Italy, did you?