|Princess Anise proved too smelly to save.|
About 5 o’clock this morning, birthday-zilla reared its fearsome head in the form of our youngest daughter, who tromped into our bedroom to remind us that she was now 4.
“Can I open my presents?” Jane demanded.
“No,” I growled.
But our child-monster would not relent.
After 17 minutes of her pestering, I rolled out from under the covers and scratched a toothbrush across my teeth. I tried to brew pot of coffee as Jane danced around my legs, swatting at the packages I’d placed on the counter.
“I want to open my presents!” she clamored.
As soon as my husband came downstairs, Jane tore the wrapping off of her new Hello Kitty pajamas, her “Fancy Nancy” books and—my coup d’état—her Lala-oopsie doll, Princess Anise.
“A Lala-oopsie!” Jane squealed in delight, as I freed it from the shackles of 37 tiny rubber bands and twisty ties with the kitchen shears. Finally emancipated from its packaging, Princess Anise found herself freshly imprisoned in Jane’s embrace.
At this climactic moment, with my twin 7-year-olds and fresh 4-year-old gathered around me on the couch, I began to realize that I was suffering from a terrible case of body odor.
I sniffed my armpits. I smelled like onions that had been left outside for the past two days—two days during which a blanket of humidity had encased our suburban Philadelphia neighborhood and temperatures had soared into the 90s.
“You stink, mommy!” my son exclaimed.
I must have sweated more than I had realized during the night.
But even after I had temporarily excused myself to bathe from the presence of birthday-zilla—who at 6:17 a.m. was now demanding cake—my husband later confessed that he had continued to detect a rancid stench. And when my in-laws came by mid-morning to wish Jane a happy birthday, they kept asking her what she’d had for breakfast.
“Cereal,” replied birthday-zilla, who promptly began to dun her grandparents for more presents.
The foul funk even seemed to follow us into the minivan on our way to the supermarket to pick out Jane’s cake, an errand during which she clutched her Lala-oopsie and pronounced that she should be “rule-maker” since it was her birthday.
As I unstrapped my daughter from her car seat, the onion stench seemed particularly powerful. So I unclenched Princess Anise from Jane’s grasp and took a whiff of the doll’s pink and blue rubber head. It reeked like the underskirt of a husky woman on a sultry day.
When my husband returned from work, I thrust the Lala-oopsie under his nose.
“It must have been made in a sweatshop—literally,” he said, darting, as is his want, onto Google.
“This is why I love the Internet!” Jeff exclaimed, showing me that before he had even finished typing “Lala-oopsie smell,” a kaleidoscope of responses rippled onto the screen. Most informative, I thought, was a Facebook thread, which provided not only helpful anecdotes but also highly entertaining reading:
“My mother bought Princess Anise for my youngest daughter a few days ago, and I have never had a doll that smelled like this,” one person wrote. “ONIONS/B.O. is exactly the way she smells… This nasty heifer has to get out of my house!”
“Oh my word! I thought I was crazy!” concurred another mother. “We bought one yesterday, and I thought my 4-year-old had B.O.! That doll smelled up the entire child room at the YMCA!”
“I changed deodorant, laundry soap and even threw away my perfume,” the thread went on. “Finally, I woke up nose-to-nose with this doll… GAG! Just what are we inhaling??”
“Witchcraft…” surmised another writer.
Relieved not only that I was in good company but also that I was not going mad and that I was not suffering from a perimenopausal case of persistent perspiration, I informed Jane that Princess Anise would now have to reside in the garbage.
My daughter ceased her tantrum only long enough to hear me say I would take her to the store to choose a new gift.
“I like my Lala-oopsie!” Jane wailed. “Why does she have to be stinky? Do you think she’s filled with peanuts?”
Luckily, the birthday girl brightened up after selecting "Karry," an unscented cloth doll that I was relieved to note was crafted in Germany according to that country's rigid standards—thankfully including olfactory. But as if in futile protest, the Lala-oopsie continued to emit her sour onion stench, even from within a tightly sealed Ziploc bag, as I dropped her into the outdoor trash.