Monday was already off to such a great start. Brenda had completed her project at work, and carefully timed it’s submission to her supervisor, Kathleen, for maximum impact (Kathleen would be high on Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, but not frantic from the inevitable sugar rush of one too many Chips Ahoy! 100 Calorie Snack Packs). Brenda looked great, and felt fantastic in a nearly new camel colored turtleneck and soft brown suede skirt. While brushing her teeth in the ladies’ room after a guilt-free Lean Cuisine lunch, Brenda’s eyes followed her reflection in the mirror. No flyaways in her long, red-brown hair, no lint on her sweater, and now, minty fresh breath. Brenda smiled at her reflection. But what was this? Her teeth… were they really that yellowed? Was it the artificial lighting? Brenda checked her smile again discreetly at her desk with a highly reflective staple remover. It was true. Yellowing teeth. Horrible.
That night, Brenda went straight to her bathroom after arriving home, a box of Crest Whitestrips swinging in a plastic CVS shopping bag around her wrist. She carefully applied the upper and lower Whitestrip, and felt the sweet tasting hydrogen peroxide squish out around the edges. Shortly afterward, while relaxing on her loveseat and scrolling through her Twitter feed, Brenda forgot about her still-in-place Whitestrips entirely. One overly zealous laugh (incited by one of Geena Davis’s hilarious Tweets) dislodged the lower Whitestrip. Brenda went to her bathroom mirror to repostion the loose strip, but she couldn’t find it anywhere. Not in her mouth, on her sweater, in her hair, on her laptop screen. Then, she sensed that familiar hydrogen peroxide sweetness… in the back of her throat. “Oh My God,” she said to herself. Brenda had inadvertently swallowed the Crest Whitestrip! She quickly grabbed the instructions from inside the box, flinging several of the prepackaged Whitestrips across the vanity. Panic rose in her throat, probably passing the potentially deadly Whitestrip as it sank closer and closer to her never-more-precious internal organs. There was nothing about swallowing Whitestrips, not even in the miniscule fine print. Unsure of what to do, Brenda sank to the floor, sliding down the buttercream yellow striped wallpaper. Minutes later, Blackberry held up to her ear, Brenda was determined live. Her voice quivered. “911? Please come quick. This is an emergency.”
“Autumn followed behind her co-worker and good friend Suzanne, blankly staring at the sway of Suzanne’s ankle length floral skirt along the way. The crisp ‘click click click’ of Autumn’s 2 inch, burgundy-brown, round toed pumps called her back into awareness. “I wonder what this is all about? Suzanne was so nervous when she asked if we could go on a coffee break together… I hope she doesn’t have a terminal illness,” Autumn thought to herself. The two women left work through a side door (also unusual for Suzanne) and crossed the barely busy street to a small restaurant/cafe (a charming Panera) where they occasionally took breaks. After ordering her usual, a medium iced coffee with cream, sugar and sugar-free Irish Creme syrup, Autumn and Suzanne were seated. “Autumn,” she began, uncomfortably, “I’d like to talk to you about a difficult issue. I hope if the situation were reversed that as my friend, you would talk with me. Are you aware that your daily perfume is extremely strong smelling?” Autumn was dumbstruck. Her perfume? What? Suzanne pressed on, “Rita and Jennifer asked me to bring this up, but truthfully, I have wanted to talk to you about it for some time now. People… people joke about it, Autumn. They sort of snicker when you pass by…. they…. oh god… they say that they can tell when you have been in the ladies’ room or in the elevator because the smell… it lingers.” Autumn couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She loved her perfume! What is the point of wearing perfume that you can’t even smell? Rita AND Jennifer had asked Suzanne to… to what? Stage and intervention? Unbelievable. After finally finishing her coffee and carrying on an obligatory, topically changed conversation with Suzanne, Autumn left work early. She drove to her condo, parked her sedan, and sat in the driver’s seat, motionless. Ten minutes later, gently placed on the lid of the curbside Rubbermaid trash bin, sat a bottle of ‘Sensational by Celine Dion’ perfume. Autumn had made her choice. Now she would have to live with it.”—