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« June 4th, 2010
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A Foul-Smelling Chemical Denim Adventure,
or Why Rompers Are Evil

It all began when I purchased a romper.

I know what you’re thinking, fashionable readers. At best, the romper is a questionable garment. At worst, the romper is a blight upon chic personkind, proven by three out of four entirely factual scientific studies to result in spontaneous epidemics of rampage, blindness, and gnashing of teeth. (Has anyone, ever, at any time, purposefully gnashed their teeth while wailing, or is that only possible with hell-bound XP?) Nevertheless, I stumbled upon the aforementioned romper online, and it was on sale, and it was relatively innocuous, and I thought that, just this once, I might try Wearing A Trend Item™. Besides, the 100% cotton denim romper looked cool and summery, and once it died its seasonal fashion death (as it surely will), I would be rid of the sudden, ill-met, ill-fated urge to try out a romper.

Romper was purchased. Romper was delivered. Romper was tried on. Romper was casual and cute. Romper was a go. Romper’s tags were removed, thereby rendering it incapable of being returned. Romper was promptly taken to the laundry room; being made of dark denim, romper would need to be washed before wearing. Romper was lifted into the air, Lion King-style: hooray for the circle of life rompers!

Never

At this point, however, the romper ceased from being referred to in such a cavalier, devoid-of-article manner. As the romper came within closer range of my nose, its (the romper’s) fabric was discovered to be imbued with an unpleasantly strong smell that one can only describe as “chemical-y.” As anyone who has ever purchased a dark-dyed article of denim can attest, this is an occasional occurrence. Unfortunately, this particular romper seemed to have a far stronger smell than any other I had previously encountered, a smell that I had attributed to “warehouse inventory dust” while trying on the romper, but was now revealed to be ingrained within the denim fabric itself — a malodorous casualty of the denim dyeing process, perhaps, or perhaps, as I did not then realize, the universe was trying to tell me something about the true nature of rompers.

“Fiddle-dee-dee,” thought Yours Truly, fluttering Yours Truly’s eyelashes, “the first wash will remove the denim toxicity from this trendy romper!” Into the washer it went. Wash completed. Air-dry commenced. Second sniff-test was administered. Verdict: the smell remained! Despite the antiquity of the phrase, I was flabbergasted. This never happened before. The first wash always made any faintly-chemical-smelling dark denim smell like … well, like laundry! Not so with the romper. The persistently-fusty denim garment was now washed, and hung boorishly upon the drying rack, a little lighter in color, tagless, nonreturnable, and (clearly) mocking me. What to do? Who could solve this noxious denim mystery?

I did what any other Informationally-Aged person would do. “To the internetmobile!” I shouted, scaring the cat, who has little interest in the internetmobile since it is neither a saucy bird nor a tasty treat. (Steve Jobs is already working on the prototypes for iBird and iTreat computers, while millions of feline consumers are already anticipating being moderately disappointed by them, whining about them, and then buying them anyway.) The internetmobile informed me, surprisingly enough, that the “stinky jeans” issue is relatively well-documented. Many internetpersons have suffered the same post-wash fate as I. The most plausible suggestions pointed me in the direction of washing the problematical denim romper again, this time adding a cup of vinegar or baking soda to the rinse cycle. (The specific type of vinegar was unspecified, so I, humorous cynic meanie-head that I am, briefly wondered if a foodie could ever be convinced to use balsamic vinegar for this purpose rather than the proper white version. Moreover, I wonder if balsamic vinegar would be good for removing rustic bread, strawberry, and gourmet salad stains.)

'How do you keep your salads oh so downy-fresh?!'

Into the kitchen I marched. Vinegar was procured. Vinegar was added to the softener compartment of the washing machine. Second wash was completed. Air-dry was completed. (Cotton dries awfully fast.) A hesitant sniff was administered to the romper. The chemical scent was lighter, certainly, but it still remained enough for me to notice it. “Still, it seems these internetmobile suggestions are accomplishing something!” I cried — the cat gave me a sour look — and I gave the wash another try, this time soaking the denim romper with baking soda. After the third dry-and-sniff, whereupon I still seemed to detect a chemical-y essence ingrained within the denim romper fabric, I began to doubt my own nose. “Can I still trust you? Why have you failed me, oh once-proud noseicle?” I wailed. The cat openly despaired of my sanity.

The fourth wash made me question my own sanity, for I, unthinking, reached for my old standby of Dark Woolite laundry detergent and was thereafter treated to a real-life example of exactly why one must use high-efficiency detergent in a high-efficiency washer. Soap suds began to fill the chamber of the washing machine. At that point, I did what any other Informationally-Aged person would do. “Mom!” I lamented into the phone, “I have ruined the washing machine, and I hate rompers!” My mother assured me that the machine was not ruined, although she could offer no comment on the romper. Meanwhile, I learned that is impossible to keep from feeling like an utterly brainless buffoon while scooping excessive soap bubbles out of a laundry machine with a cup. (You know, I consider myself a fairly intelligent person … and I’m still going to, because I’d rather be known for my scholarly enterprise than for my elaborate laundry skills. Revolt, Betty Draper. Revolt.)

As of this writing, the accursed romper is still at large. The denim fabric is still dark blue, albeit no longer navy blue. The chemicals have faded by an aromatic factor of 85%, and I suspect that is the final aroma verdict. My nose has gone on strike. My mother is amused by my overreactions. The cat is asleep, unrelatedly, because he is, after all, a cat. And I haven’t even worn the romper yet.

Therefore, Trendy McTrendersons take note: rompers are evil. This is the first scribbling I’ve written for AmbientWhimsy this year, mind you, and it’s about laundry. Surely there is no more wholly-conclusive evidence of evil.