Last week I walked by a Sephora store in Bangkok, with a person that I had met for the first time on the same day. For the sake of this story, let’s call this other person Mr. Man. Mr. Man and I had met at a work assignment that morning after which we decided to celebrate over coffee. On our way to coffee I spotted Sephora and asked if we could walk through the store. I promised to keep my eager hands in my pockets and only allow my eyes the satisfaction of admiring the beautiful bottles containing skin miracles. Just as we entered one of my favorite places on earth, my nose was hit with a huge wave of fragrance. I quickly turned around and walked out before my body had the chance to realize that it has just missed a bullet. Mr. Man followed suit and before he could say something to match that quizzical look on his face, I walked ahead faster, delaying the conversation till coffee came.
I stood in line at Starbucks (I am not a fan) and ordered one of the only few coffees they serve without whipped cream, syrup, sugar and artificial flavoring. I picked up my cup of black coffee with soy milk (they didn’t have almond milk) and joined Mr. Man who had made himself comfortable on an armchair along his nameless cuppa-something. As I sipped on my seemingly unexciting brownish fluid, Mr. Man asked me why I preferred soy milk, to which I responded that I like to limit my daily dairy intake and had already consumed too much cheese and yoghurt at breakfast. He looked at me for a few minutes, as if ensuring that the little piece of information I had just shared with him had been thoroughly digested.
After a few sips of something overly sweet, he offered me a cookie that I assume he bought along with his cuppa. I declined, explaining that I am gluten intolerant. His silence could have meant that he had no idea what that meant. With crumbs on the corner of his lips, he asked me why I had hurried out of Sephora considering I had just finished educating him on the black and white striped Promised Land. I calmly began telling him one of my most told short stories.
“I am allergic to perfume, deodorant, nail paint and certain other products; but the smell of any perfume is enough to induce an hour-long sneeze-fest and if it gets in contact with my skin, I turn into a beetroot with a diaper rash. So, yea I ran out.”
Mr. Man licked the crumbs off his lips, and beyond, and when he was done with that cookie, he looked at me and said, “You are really high maintenance.”
That is all. Just that one line. I did not know if that was a question-kinda sentence that I could possibly answer with a “No. I am a girl with allergies and intolerances. If I were high maintenance I would probably be at a cafe that served a damp towel with every cookie order.” Instead I began explaining my deodorant situation, thinking maybe he would tell me that he misjudged me.
“I use real lemons as deodorant.”
“Real lemons?” he said suspiciously.
“Yes, actual lemons. Nimbu. Those yellow citrus balls of sour juice.”
“Oh. Weird. How?” is what I got next.
“I cut them in half, remove the seeds and use one half after every shower by squeezing the juice on my underarms and then gently patting it in.”
“Isn’t it time-consuming?”
“I mean it only takes 17 seconds per underarm. I am actually training to increase my juice-the-lemon-with-your-fingers speed, so that I can beat the existing Guinness world record.”
“Oh.” said Mr. Man, appearing dumbfounded.
“Do you ever smell?” he asked.
“When I am low on confidence, I take a whiff and the smell of room freshener and lemonade immediately boosts my ego. Also, my underarms have less pigmentation since they befriended lemons and my skin does not have to unwillingly absorb all those carcinogens found in commercial deodorants.”
“Wow.” he said.
“Wow it is.” I said, sipping on my now-cold coffee.
If he hadn’t already called me high maintenance, I would have probably gone back to the counter and asked them to reheat my coffee. I like it hot.
P.S: You do not have to use lemons as deodorant only if you are allergic to fragrances. I know a lot of people who use it because they have a history of breast cancer in their family and/or have eczema. Lemons are a fail-safe natural way to smell fresh for hours, that most commercial deodorants fail to do. If you prefer using a store-bought solution, then I suggest Truly’s cream deodorant, which is what I use when I travel. It has organic coconut oil – you know I am obsessed – but does not leave you feeling oily or sticky.
Stay fresh and let me know what you do with your lemons.
P.P.S: For your convenience, by clicking on the underlined products, you will automatically be redirected to the website where I buy them from or from where you can learn more about them.
– Photographs taken by the extremely talented and patient Nithin Barath