What's That Smell? The Smell of Beach Vacations Past.

candleonbeachI blame it on my vacation buzz. Though we’d been home for 24 hours, I was still feeling and acting like I was on vacation. Which is how I found myself on a Monday afternoon in the back of a nearly empty Hallmark store not far from my house, sniffing candles. I mean, who does that except tourists and drunks? Also, drunken tourists. And yet, I was none of these things.

Granted, it was my children’s idea to buy a few of those scented Yankee candles “for our rooms, Mom.” Though I told them that I wouldn’t let them light them for fear of fire, I figured that the smell of say, MacIntosh Spice or Vanilla Cookie might offset the odor of Filthy Socks coming from their hampers. So I let them pick out two candles each.

While they made their selections, I wandered over to the car freshener section, where one scent stood out: Sun and Sand. It had a picture of a hammock with a white sandy beach and blue ocean water in the background on top of a sand colored, candle-shaped air freshener.

And suddenly, I had to have it. I’d just spent a week at the beach, and I guess I wanted to hold onto my vacation buzz a little longer. So, along with my boys’ candles, I purchased the Sun and Sand Car Freshener and stuck it in my mini-van.

But on Tuesday morning, my vacation buzz wore off. My Sun and Sand Car Freshener, on the other hand, was just getting started.

“Who spilled sunscreen in here?” I asked my boys when we piled into the car on a rainy morning to head to the dentist. They both shrugged.

I searched the car and found two bottles of sunscreen, both with their lids tightly closed. I searched the floor, still sprinkled with beach sand and boardwalk detritus, but I didn’t find any sunscreen. Then, my 12-year-old had an epiphany.

“It’s this thing,” he said, and then he proceded to pull the car freshener out of its packaging, thereby releasing its Sunny and Sandy scent in one overwhelming whiff that made me long for winter. We all held our noses.

Never pull a new car freshener out of its wrapper,” I warned him as though I was teaching him about the dangers of running with scissors or leaving the stove on when no one’s home.

He placed it back in the wrapper, and I stuffed it between my sunglasses case and the cover for my Springsteen CD.

Here, I was trying to elminate the smell of a week at the beach  — with its ice cream droppings, mini-golf scorecards, boardwalk stuffed animals, lemonade bottles, gum wrappers and, of course, sunscreen and sand. And yet, I’d gone and bought more of it in high doses of man-made aroma and shoved it into my car.

Perhaps I should have gone with a more neutral scent like Clean Cotton. Nah, that would remind me how much laundry I have yet to do.

I know, how about Vanilla Pumpkin? No, too autumnal. It would make me think I need to stop at Staples for school supplies entirely too soon.

Cafe Au Lait? All I have to do is dig up a Starbucks cup from under my seat, and I’m good to go.

I haven’t given up on Sun and Sand, but I haven’t touched it either. Maybe by the time its scent isn’t so overpowering, summer will be behind us and I’ll long for the smell of sunscreen and beach in my mini-van once again. Until then, though, I’ll enjoy the real sun and sand, because there’s plenty of both in my car.

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