Not too long ago I wrote a blog piece about the marvels of WD-40, an industrial lubricant which apparently can be used for everything from removing chewing gum from your hair to acting as a primer to start jet engines (I'm making that last one up right there. But you get the point.)
So the other day, as I was getting ready to mow the lawn, I was wondering what I could do to reduce my chances of getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, which seem to be in overabundance this year.
No, I didn't cover myself in WD-40.
But I was getting a little leery of spraying myself with Off! or Repel or anything else that contained deet. You know. Because of the chemicals.
Why should I worry about chemicals now, you may ask. After all, back in the 1950s, I was part of the neighborhood band of kids that frolicked behind the city DDT truck as it slowly drove down the street spraying clouds of carcinogenic chemicals into the air. It was almost as much fun as chasing after the Mister Softee ice cream truck.
We also did Duck and Cover exercises in school in case of nuclear attack. Ahhh, the 1950s.
Anyway, I recently tried this one organic spray called Repel Natural, which does not contain deet. It was more of a liquid than an aerosol, and as far as I was concerned, it didn't work for me. The 32 mosquitoes that landed on me after my application showed me that.
Then Kim remembered something.
"I think I read once that if you take a fabric softener sheet and put it in your pocket, it keeps the mosquitoes away," she said.
"Yeah, right," I thought, and tried it anyway.
I took a sheet of fabric softener, rubbed it on my exposed arms and legs, stuck the sheet in my pocket and happily went to mow the yard.
I only got bit once.
Wow. This stuff really works.
I told Kim about it, and she tried it when she went out to water her garden. She came back into the house a half hour later complaining about all the mosquitoes that bit her.
I don't know what happened. The only difference between us is that I'm male and she's female. I hate to think that there's a gender bias involved, but maybe fabric softeners don't work well when mingled with estrogen. I don't know.
It got me to thinking what chemicals were hidden in the fabric softener. So I looked at the ingredients and it told me a sheet "contains fabric softening agents (cationic types)..."
Uh-oh. What does "cationic" mean? It's not a word that comes up in sports writing very often.
I googled it: "An ion or group of ions having a positive charge and characteristically moving toward the negative electrode in electrolysis."
Well, that certainly cleared that up. I could see mosquitoes dying by the millions. Probably of laughter.
I told Kim. Her backup plan is to spray herself with Avon's Skin So Soft, which she also heard is a good mosquito repellent.
Hmm, maybe. I wonder how it mingles with testosterone?