Sunday, May 19, 2024
May 19, 2024

Nobody Asked Me But: Irish Spring soap gives special scent to tables-turned tourist trip

Sometimes, we have to take a step away from ourselves in order to find out who we really are.

Nothing demonstrates this principle better than when we take a holiday away from the island and become tourists in someone else’s domain. It is only then, as we look at ourselves through the eyes of others, that we begin to understand how our normal, everyday prejudices can often blindfold us from seeing the world in all its manifestations.

For my wife and me, this getaway was a much postponed four-day holiday up Vancouver Island just outside the town of Comox. We had rented a small Airbnb cottage on a sandy beach stretching along Kye Bay. The cottage was situated in a perfect location in the bay and it was tucked in between two larger residences to shelter it from the wind. A minor drawback to our Airbnb’s location was that it was directly below the flight paths of planes taking off and landing at both the neighbouring air force base and the commercial Comox Valley airport. Once we got used to the cottage occasionally shaking on its foundation, it hardly bothered us at all.

Like any other vacation rental tourist, I like to snoop around the cottage to see what past occupants might have left behind. I find the usual cereals, teabags and spices in the kitchen cupboards and the refrigerator is well stocked with abandoned bottles of ketchup, steak sauces and other condiment containers that never get used up completely. The bathroom is a veritable gold mine of left-behind personal hygiene products. There are cleansers, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, mouthwashes, moisturizers, lotions and creams that promise to leave your skin and scalp fresher than a newly hatched chick. Beside the sink there sits a large oyster shell containing an unopened package of Irish Spring soap. Strange, I think, as I didn’t realize they even made this product any more. When I pull back the curtain that hides the hot water heater, I find an array of shelves stocked with extra toilet paper and dozens upon dozens of more bars of Irish Spring.

Now it all makes sense. Comox is obviously the global financial capital and bars of Irish Spring soap are set to replace gold bullion as the monetary standard unit of currency. Virtual digital currency such as Crypto and Bitcoin had been given their chance and failed, and it was now Irish Spring’s time to shine. Our Airbnb host, who we suspect might be part leprechaun, has simply gotten in on the ground floor.

The first morning, we get up extra early, brew a couple of cups of steaming super java, and head out just a few steps to the beach so we can absorb our first holiday sunrise. We set our bodies down on one of the massive beach logs which have been tossed up along the high water line by past storms. Staring out to the east, we prepare ourselves for first light followed by a brilliant show of colour. What we see instead is a bank of dark purple clouds that obscures any and all light. We should be able to see Texada Island in the foreground and the Coast Mountains on the mainland in the distance. We know they are out there somewhere, but they are obviously conspiring with the elusive sunrise to thwart our morning beach fantasy. That’s what we get, I suppose, for taking our summer getaway in mid-October.

Not wanting to dwell on this minor morning disappointment, we decide to drive in to Comox and take a walk around town. Today, we are the tourists. Today we get to ask the stupid questions. We get to walk around in khaki cargo shorts, knee-high compression socks and new unscuffed sneakers. We are the ones who drive way too fast around blind curves when the roads are too slippery, and then slow down so we can crane our necks and gawk at the beautiful scenery while traffic is bunching up behind us. Yes, it is us this time who circle endlessly around the parking lots like they were pioneer wagon trains, while we search for that lone vehicle parking stall that never opens up for us. We get to be the ones who fatten up the lineups at the banks, post offices and supermarkets and smile back at the locals who suffer in silence as they swear blue streaks under their breaths. And then again there are ferry issues such as overloads and cancellations, but we won’t even start to wade into these.

As tourists, we feel an obligation to ask the usual questions. The locals would surely be disappointed if we didn’t inquire as to the whereabouts of the liquor store or a good place to eat. To cement our place as bona fide tourists, a complaint or two regarding how much higher the prices are than what we pay back home is sure to enamour us to them.

There is no question that we could possibly ask that would match the one posed a number of years ago in the Grace Point liquor store by a tourist from Texas, who seriously wondered how we managed to keep our island afloat without having it drift away in the current. Nevertheless, all stupid questions aside, we do our best to get in touch with our “inner tourist.” When we walk, we do so with that certain gait that tourists use to show the world that they’re in no real hurry to get anywhere because they’re on holiday, but if they had to, like if they were late for a fitness class, then they could really motor.

Nobody asked me, but there’s nothing like being tourists away from our home turf to make us lose that air of superiority and smugness with which we often surround ourselves when we’re at home. We don’t have to feel self-conscious or guilty if we slow down a lineup at the café by placing an order that specifies gluten free, organic, non GMO, lactose free, paleo, vegan. We can get away with it because we’re tourists.

And I’ve got a bar of Irish Spring soap to prove it.

Ω

Sometimes, we have to take a step away from ourselves in order to find out who we really are.

Nothing demonstrates this principle better than when we take a holiday away from the island and become tourists in someone else’s domain. It is only then, as we look at ourselves through the eyes of others, that we begin to understand how our normal, everyday prejudices can often blindfold us from seeing the world in all its manifestations.

For my wife and me, this getaway was a much postponed four-day holiday up Vancouver Island just outside the town of Comox. We had rented a small Airbnb cottage on a sandy beach stretching along Kye Bay. The cottage was situated in a perfect location in the bay and it was tucked in between two larger residences to shelter it from the wind. A minor drawback to our Airbnb’s location was that it was directly below the flight paths of planes taking off and landing at both the neighbouring air force base and the commercial Comox Valley airport. Once we got used to the cottage occasionally shaking on its foundation, it hardly bothered us at all.

Like any other vacation rental tourist, I like to snoop around the cottage to see what past occupants might have left behind. I find the usual cereals, teabags and spices in the kitchen cupboards and the refrigerator is well stocked with abandoned bottles of ketchup, steak sauces and other condiment containers that never get used up completely. The bathroom is a veritable gold mine of left-behind personal hygiene products. There are cleansers, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, mouthwashes, moisturizers, lotions and creams that promise to leave your skin and scalp fresher than a newly hatched chick. Beside the sink there sits a large oyster shell containing an unopened package of Irish Spring soap. Strange, I think, as I didn’t realize they even made this product any more. When I pull back the curtain that hides the hot water heater, I find an array of shelves stocked with extra toilet paper and dozens upon dozens of more bars of Irish Spring.

Now it all makes sense. Comox is obviously the global financial capital and bars of Irish Spring soap are set to replace gold bullion as the monetary standard unit of currency. Virtual digital currency such as Crypto and Bitcoin had been given their chance and failed, and it was now Irish Spring’s time to shine. Our Airbnb host, who we suspect might be part leprechaun, has simply gotten in on the ground floor.

The first morning, we get up extra early, brew a couple of cups of steaming super java, and head out just a few steps to the beach so we can absorb our first holiday sunrise. We set our bodies down on one of the massive beach logs which have been tossed up along the high water line by past storms. Staring out to the east, we prepare ourselves for first light followed by a brilliant show of colour. What we see instead is a bank of dark purple clouds that obscures any and all light. We should be able to see Texada Island in the foreground and the Coast Mountains on the mainland in the distance. We know they are out there somewhere, but they are obviously conspiring with the elusive sunrise to thwart our morning beach fantasy. That’s what we get, I suppose, for taking our summer getaway in mid-October.

Not wanting to dwell on this minor morning disappointment, we decide to drive in to Comox and take a walk around town. Today, we are the tourists. Today we get to ask the stupid questions. We get to walk around in khaki cargo shorts, knee-high compression socks and new unscuffed sneakers. We are the ones who drive way too fast around blind curves when the roads are too slippery, and then slow down so we can crane our necks and gawk at the beautiful scenery while traffic is bunching up behind us. Yes, it is us this time who circle endlessly around the parking lots like they were pioneer wagon trains, while we search for that lone vehicle parking stall that never opens up for us. We get to be the ones who fatten up the lineups at the banks, post offices and supermarkets and smile back at the locals who suffer in silence as they swear blue streaks under their breaths. And then again there are ferry issues such as overloads and cancellations, but we won’t even start to wade into these.

As tourists, we feel an obligation to ask the usual questions. The locals would surely be disappointed if we didn’t inquire as to the whereabouts of the liquor store or a good place to eat. To cement our place as bona fide tourists, a complaint or two regarding how much higher the prices are than what we pay back home is sure to enamour us to them.

There is no question that we could possibly ask that would match the one posed a number of years ago in the Grace Point liquor store by a tourist from Texas, who seriously wondered how we managed to keep our island afloat without having it drift away in the current. Nevertheless, all stupid questions aside, we do our best to get in touch with our “inner tourist.” When we walk, we do so with that certain gait that tourists use to show the world that they’re in no real hurry to get anywhere because they’re on holiday, but if they had to, like if they were late for a fitness class, then they could really motor.

Nobody asked me, but there’s nothing like being tourists away from our home turf to make us lose that air of superiority and smugness with which we often surround ourselves when we’re at home. We don’t have to feel self-conscious or guilty if we slow down a lineup at the café by placing an order that specifies gluten free, organic, non GMO, lactose free, paleo, vegan. We can get away with it because we’re tourists.

And I’ve got a bar of Irish Spring soap to prove it.

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