The elements of doom were staring right at me from the box. Several bottles of Splish Splash were peeking out of the cardboard box our new neighbor was holding. My brains registered the name in passing but that´s all.
But the new neighbor was smiling dazzlingly at me and I was returning the smile. She seemed like a sweet girl. Perhaps she over did it a bit with perfume, and her blond hair had a pinkish hue but otherwise she seemed nice.
- I´m Annina, she tried to extend a hand but the box full of Splish Splash tilted ominously and she grabbed the box again, - I´m moving in, she stated the obvious.
- Yes, I can see, I nodded. Hard to avoid noticing all those people carrying her boxes and furniture up the stairs.
- All my ex-neighbors are here to help, she said.
I should have doubted something then. I mean on how many occasions would neighbors be willing to do that? Unless they wanted to get rid of someone...
- Please be careful with that! Annina shouted.
I turned just in time to see another box on Splish Splash tilt. It took surprisingly long before the man carrying the box decided to straighten it again. It was almost like he was trying to make them break.
- Well, you are very welcome here! I´ll have to leave for work now, I nodded to her.
- Good luck... mumbled one of the box-carriers in passing, but when I turned to look back at him, he avoided my looks and hurried upstairs.
At first nothing special happened. We just noticed that Annina liked to swim a lot. Or you could say all the men noticed. We have a pool in our yard no one almost uses. Except Annina. And as she was a pretty young thing, suddenly the men in the apartment building seemed to take a renewed interest in swimming a few laps. Annina giggled and cheered them on from her lounge chair but that´s all. Soon many wives appeared also - probably to keep an eye on their husbands. The pool experienced a new surge in popularity.
Still none of the ladies could dislike Annina. She had the loveliest giggle that made everyone laugh, and she was always so sweet to everyone and was definitely not after anyone´s husband.
Some time passed and then one morning my husband looked at the pool.
- What...? Come here - do you see what I see?
I did. Big clouds of really pink foam were floating on the surface. No one had any idea what that was but it sure gave an intoxicating oriental perfume smell. The pool was closed and samples were taken. The results were that it was some kind of soap. But sticky goo at that - it had basically ruined the water cleaning system. So the pool was emptied and it would take some time before it would be in use again.
No one admitted seeing or hearing anything, so it remained a secret who had done it. The odd pink foam left stains on everything it had touched. The stains wouldn´t go away no matter how hard they were scrubbed.
Annina was devastated. She sat by the empty pool and sighed. She really loved to swim.
She lived right on top of us. One day when I was on the balcony to water the flowers I thought I heard what sounded like someone moving in a bath tub. But our apartments had no bath tubs, only showers. I figured it must have been someone´s TV.
Until the next morning. When I opened the balcony door I noticed water was dripping steadily from the balcony above. I ran upstairs and rang Annina´s doorbell.
- Oh thank goodness someone came! she sighed, - I need help.
She did, really. She led me to her balcony and I had to laugh.
- What is that? I asked, even though I could see it clearly.
- A pool, Annina said innocently, - I bought one.
She had bought a children's pool, one of those plastic ones that are meant to be put outside. Well, technically the balcony was outside...
- I sat there the whole week when it was hot! Annina said, - And then I thought I could change the water. You see it started to smell a bit odd. Not even this helped.
The mystery of Splish Splash was solved when Annina handed me a bottle of screaming pink liquid. I thought at first it was some kind of chemical meant for cleaning the water. Then I smelled it. An odd oriental perfume... I had smelled this before
- It´s bubble bath, Annina said innocently, - My ex boyfriend was a chemist and made some just for me. It´s super efficient! The foam lasts like forever! But for some reason no one wanted to sell it. And I even came up with the name. Splish Splash. Now you would think that would sell really well!
- Annina - I have to ask... Is this the same stuff that ruined our pool?
Her hands flew to her mouth and two huge eyes looked at me in horror.
- I´m sorry! Please don´t tell anyone! I had no idea... I just wanted to try if I could make the pool into a big foam bath with Splish Splash in the middle of the night. It would have been such fun! I had no idea it would ruin the pool, I really thought it would disappear by morning. Oh please, don´t tell! They´ll kick me out and I cannot afford to move anywhere else!
I looked at the young girl, then at barbie-pink pool filled with pink water (with remains of Splish Splash foam still in the water). I sighed. Hadn´t we all done something silly when young? And she was right - she would be kicked out if the truth was known.
- Ok. But you promise not to use Splish Splash in our pool again, will you?
- Oh yes, absolutely!
We returned to the task at hand.
- Tell me - how did you fill this pool? I asked. It was full of water.
- I bought a bucket! Annina showed me a hilarious little children´s bucket, - It was so cute I had to buy it!
Oh yes, it was pink.
- You used THAT to fill this whole pool?
- Ahha.... she nodded, - But it took so much time just to fill it I thought I´d try to pull the pool indoors and to the bathroom and just empty it there. But it was too heavy!
Thank God... If she had ever managed to yank all that water indoors... With my mind´s eye I could see all that water splashing on the floor and starting its way downwards. It already had, but thankfully only to our balcony. Had it happened inside, our apartment would have been ruined. I looked at Annina, standing there with her... Barbie bucket. I looked at the children´s pool and saw it had Barbie pictures all over. I glanced at the room - a whole shelf of Barbiedolls...
- I collect them! I have quite a few valuable ones! she had noticed my glance.
I sighed. Then I told her what dangers were in trying to move a whole pool of water indoors ("Oh, I had no idea!"), told her to stand still and went downstairs to get two real buckets. We emptied the pool and I took it away with me. The balcony was not exactly meant for pools - such an amount of water was heavy and perhaps the balcony was not strong enough to carry so much weight. ("Oh, I had no idea!")
Well, I thought the episode was over and done with. Then I heard something being carried upstairs with a lot of huff and puff. I opened the door and saw two men carrying a jacuzzi. Someone had bought a jacuzzi. Not a big one, but still. I closed the door. On hindsight I should have asked to whom it was.
Exactly a week later someone rang our doorbell. Annina was standing behind the door. Not surprisingly the smell of oriental perfume was strong enough to kill flies mid-flight. Still it was not her habit to walk around with pink bath foam on her head.
- Ok, what happened?
- Well I bought this jacuzzi...
- Oh, it was you, well of course...
- I´ve been using it a week and my Splish Splash didn´t seem to work properly. I mean it has never failed to give foam. Well, I thought it was because I opened a new bottle and that there was something wrong with it. Still the smell is nice so I did not want to throw it away. I just added it every day for the smell.
- Added? To the same water?
- Well yes, I am trying to save on my water bill. So I thought I´d use the same water for a week.
- Annina! That´s not hygienic!
- Oh... she seemed to think, - I never thought of that... Maybe you are right. But anyway. Today I tried to get foam again. I poured some more Splish Splash into the water. And then I noticed this button on the bath tub. I pressed it. You know what?
- What? I did not know should I laugh now or later.
- It was the button that makes the water move. You know - make all those bubbles. At it worked perfectly. And now I understood why Splish Splash had not worked before. Because now that the water moved, it started to make the foam. And fast. Suddenly I was sitting there in my bath and there was foam all the way to the ceiling. Really - all the way to the ceiling! Can you imagine? I tried to take the foam to the kitchen sink and I tried to flush it down the toilet. I even took it to the balcony.
I looked out. Sure enough - bits of pink foam were flying in the air.
- But I think I´ll be needing your buckets. Would you loan them?
I did. Again, on hindsight, I should have gone up to help her. That way the catastrophe could have been avoided.
It happened a few days later - at night when we were already asleep. My husband was snoring happily next to me. I was trying to make him roll on his side when a huge crack and the sound of something big falling and landing with a thud and a splash in the middle of our living room scared us out of our wits.
I´ll never forget the sight. When we got the bedroom door opened and looked into our living room, the last thing I expected to see was a jacuzzi with Annina sitting in it. Pink foam was landing on her head from the big hole in our living room ceiling. The whole room was wet and full of pink foam.
Annina was holding a bottle of Splish Splash in her hand and looked like she didn´t believe it. Well, neither did we.
Annina was unhurt, thank goodness. When the initial shock was over she told us that because the jacuzzi did not fit in the bathroom, she asked the guys to put it against the wall in her living room. Besides - the view out of the living room windows was nice. But again she didn´t realize to think the old building was not made carry the weight of a jacuzzi in a living room.
It took a lot of persuading to stop the landlord from kicking Annina out of the building there and then. But she was lucky - much to our surprise insurance paid for the damages. She promised to stick to her shower in the future. I also had a long talk with her about Splish Splash. I convinced her it was not nice for a young girl to smell like an oriental perfume shop. Of course it was nice no self-respecting insect would try to approach her, but that strong smell certainly did the same to people too, including possible boyfriends.
Also I took her to see all the pink stains in the walls. So many weeks after the pool incident they refused to be washed away. She admitted her apartment was also very pink after the foam-episode. Her whole Barbie collection was also ruined, which probably tipped the scale in favor of my advice.
- So don´t you think Splish Splash has already caused enough trouble? I asked, - And that it would be wisest to throw it away?
To my great relief she nodded.
- You are right. It is a shame though... It smells so nice... And the lovely pink color. It would be much nicer if I could give them to someone who appreciated...
- Oh all right. I promise I will get rid of it.
I did not want to ask how she was going to do it. I should have, again. But the answer was obvious next morning. We poured ourselves some coffee, sat on our new couch and opened the TV to see the local news.
- No one knows where this stuff comes from, the reporter was standing waist deep in pink foam in front of the town hall, - Or rather - it comes from the fountain. But was IS it? Who put it there? Just look!
The camera dutifully showed the surroundings of the town hall. Where there was a fountain, was now a huge pink blob of bath foam. The streets were full of it. People were digging out their parked cars from the foam. People with asthma were having attacks from the smell.
- Look, my husband pointed to a nearby trash can on the TV-screen.
It was full of familiar looking bottles. Splish Splash. The whole trash can was full of empty Splish Splash bottles... We closed the TV and never mentioned the sight again.
They never made the connection to Annina and she stayed very quiet for many days. I suppose she did not have a heart to throw her precious Splish Splash bottles away. I never go to ask her what on earth was she thinking when she poured the bottles into the fountain, because one day she just moved away quietly.
I hope she got to a better place with a big bath tub, a huge pool - and no Splish Splash bottles.