Sunday, September 10, 2017

Essential Oils Strike Back

Last week I told you about my essential oils nightmare.

All seventeen hundred ladies were scheduled to stay in my place until Saturday. They asked multiple times if they could extend their stay and I politely told them they could not each of those multiple times.

Last week was a stressful week for many reasons. Some of them work related. Some of them essential oils related. And toward the end of the week, many of them were Strangerville Live motivated.

Our show was on Friday evening, and we were frantically trying to get everything ready to go.

Look. I have control issues. I know this about myself. It's ok if things ultimately don't go exactly how I want them to go, but I plan and prepare for every possible contingency and I stress myself into oblivion in the process. So much so that on Thursday night I'm pretty sure Meg started slipping chill pills into my drink.

To give you an idea of just how obsessively controlling I get with these shows, I legit prepared and memorized two fifteen-minute stories just in case one or two of our storytellers had an appendectomy the night of the show. I stopped by the venue twice during the day on Friday to make sure the place hadn't flooded or burned to the ground or been taken over by zombies.

If there is anything I can possibly do to prepare for the worst, I want to be able to do those things.

And so, you can imagine how I felt when I arrived at the venue on Friday evening and found out that there was going to be a party upstairs, right above us.

A party. Right. Above. Us.

What would this mean? Would this ruin the show? Would the party be loud? WOULD BOB AND CATHIE APPROVE OF THIS PARTY?

There was no time to plan contingencies for this. The show was about to begin. People were already arriving. I simply didn't have time to worry about this problem.

I don't know anything about show business except that the show must go on. I know about that rule. I've watched enough TV in my life to be aware that that's a thing.

As Strangers began wandering in to the show, several of them told me they could smell essential oils. (Also, one Stranger promised me that if she went into labor during the show she would name her baby after me. If I wasn't so sweaty and in need of a change of clothes, I would have prolonged the whole thing up to three weeks to wait this out. I need you people to name your babies after me. Stop holding out. It's the least you can do considering that I introduced all of you to Tami.)

Understanding that they had likely read my post from the night before, I laughed with them about this, telling them that I knew that my clothes probably smelled like essential oils and that I would likely have to burn my house to the ground at the end of the week.

I was already on edge and feeling sensitive about probably smelling like I had doused myself in grandma's perfume because of the week I had been having with my essential oils Airbnb guests. But to make matters more tense, that morning I had had a run-in with the woman who booked the place.

I thought the ladies had left for the day because they had been getting up before 6:00 every day all week and initiating their chemical attack against my hometown. I know they had been getting up that early because I heard the sounds of dying cats all morning as they got ready.

Thinking they were already out of the house on Friday morning, I decided to make a fiber shake (YOU'RE WELCOME, MY COLON) and so I turned on the blender for about 30 seconds. Shortly thereafter, the woman ascended the stairs, came into the kitchen, and told me I was being "too loud." Surprised, and to be honest half naked, I apologized. She rolled her eyes and stomped back down the stairs.

IT WAS 9:30.

I had had it. But I only had to deal with this for one more day. And I needed to put all of my thoughts and energy on Friday into stopping the zombie Apocalypse from ruining Strangerville Live. So I decided not to think about it.

But here I was. Strangers were noticing that I smelled like my Airbnb guests. And they were commenting on it. The scent had followed me to the show. I was going to have to live with it for the night and maybe for the rest of my life.

More Strangers came. They commented on the essential oils smell, too. I told them I was sorry and that I didn't know what I could do about it.

More Strangers. More comments. More apologies for bringing this with me.

And then, suddenly, a door to the lobby opened and whiff of air came at me. And that's when I realized it.

The smells of essential oils weren't coming from me. THEY WERE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE.

No no no no no no no no no nononononononononononononononononoooooooooooooooooo!

I ran to the venue organizer.

"What is the event upstairs?!" I screamed like a man desperate for a fix.

"It's a party," she calmly told me.

"What kind of party?!" I yelled at her so loudly that I technically committed attempted homicide in the process.

The next words from her mouth came out in a very deep slowed human voice.

"It's an esseeeeeennnnnnntiaaaaal. oooooiiiillllsssss. paaaaarrrtyyyyy."

No no no no no no no nonononononononnonononononononooooooooooo!!!!

I panicked. I couldn't stop the panic. How could this be happening? I already decided that morning that I was not going to let the essential oils women staying in my basement ruin my day because I had more important things to think about.

But there they were, several hours later, ascending the stairs at the venue. Threatening to destroy everything. It was like a big exclamation mark on an already annoying week. Like, "we know we've basically ruined your house and disregarded your rules and snapped at you for being alive at 9:30 on a Friday morning but we just heard that there's a show you've been planning for four months and that people have been working super hard to prepare for so we think we'll stop by there too and suffocate you with the smell of monkey butt lavender because it cures gangrene."

It was poetic. And maybe I deserved it for what I wrote about these women last Thursday. I don't know. I don't really understand how karma works.

The point is, the moment the show started, the sounds of women cheering in unison every 12 seconds HOW CAN THEY HAVE THAT MANY THINGS TO CHEER ABOUT filled the space downstairs where 130 or so Strangers had gathered to quietly listen to some awesome storytelling.

The woman who worked for the venue (who was wonderful, by the way) repeatedly went upstairs to try to get the noise under control. She told me later that the essential oils people were sharing testimonials with one another, scream cheering over them, and literally crying. It was like an episode of Oprah except with more pyramid schemes.

I felt bad for our storytellers because I knew this was distracting. We had worked for a few months with Mike and Lauren on their delightful stories and I so wanted them to have a good experience. Fortunately they shined and truly did justice to the nearly-lost art of storytelling.

What's more, I was already nervous enough to meet Heather Armstrong. I have admired her writing for many years and was thrilled that she so graciously responded to our invitation to participate in the show. I sat next to her as the cheering and foot stomping persisted above our heads, thinking the whole time "this woman is never going to talk to us again."

Fortunately Heather, like the others, was a true professional, delivering a wonderfully-entertaining story and then kindly telling me just before leaving that she had fun and was truly thankful that we reached out.

But even more than our concern for our storytellers, throughout the show, Meg, Jolyn, and I just stared at one another, silently shaking our heads, praying to the Strangerville Gods that this wasn't ruining the show for our audience for whom we owe eternal debts of gratitude for all of their support.

People were great. After the show a lot of people lingered and joked about essential oils and several people told us that the sounds from upstairs were not actually a big deal and that we were probably the only people who were really all that stressed about it. Some people told me that after my rant last week about essential oils, this was actually wonderfully comedic for them and made the night funnier. I hope that's true. If it wasn't true for you, I would like to send you a lock of Duncan's hair as a peace offering.

We cleaned up the venue until late in the night. I got home and had a hard time falling asleep. Sometime around 5:30 AM the sounds of dying cats commenced for the day. And by 7:00 the women were gone.

I cautiously entered the basement, holding a handkerchief over my face like a hero entering a burning house to save a baby.

There were piles of garbage, half-full cartons with handwritten labels that said words I've never heard of, and in the center of the room, 12 empty bottles of beet juice.

I have washed the sheets 5 times already.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. Wow. I've been impatiently waiting for a post about how the show went, and I did not expect this.

    I also like to worry about the worst, too. I'm quite good at it.

    I'm reeeeeeaaaalllyyy curious what you and they are going to write in the Airbnb reviews about each other. Please screenshot those when you have them?

  2. Did you know that at least one essential oil - cinnamon - shall henceforth be called the "Holiest of Holies" in my house? Why? BECAUSE IT REPELS ANTS...LITTLE ANTS, BIG ANTS, ANT BULLIES, AUNT ANTS, UNCLE ANTS, ALL ANTS!!!!

    Here, try some...and if you book a party........

    1. Regular old ground cinnamon will do the same. It messes up their pheromone trails. I sprinkle it around the places where they enter the house. It's not foolproof, but it works pretty well. And I'm willing to bet it's cheaper than the "essential" version.

    2. hahahaha, not quite as essential as it seems

    3. Anon - believe it or not, but I'm allergic to cinnamon! Yes, I know it's a tragedy...I'm going to need a moment...............

      Okay, where was I? Yes, yeah I'm sure the ground variety - of which I have zero in my house - is just as good, but the oil kind I bought was included in a goo that sticks to my multitude of hummingbird feeder, yeah, that's why I bought it. Handy applicator thingy, too, so I don't have to touch it and risk a reaction.

    4. See, now that's a decent reason to buy an essential oil.

  3. I'm not an essential oil freak, I do use them on occasion though. BUT, I think you would enjoy my oil fail story:
    Peppermint oil does actually help open up nasal passages due to allergies. I put some on a tissue because I couldn't find my little diffuser pad things. Fast forward 20 minutes to me doing the dishes, my nose starts to run so I grabbed the closes tissue I could find and blew my nose. Oh lord! As if the blinding pain of straight peppermint oil on an already raw from over-blowing nose wasn't enough, I dropped the tissue and rubbed my eyes. The oil was all over my fingers! So there I stood in my kitchen, tears streaming down my face and more four letter words than I ever thought I knew flying out of my mouth and all I could think was 'THIS is what Eli was trying to warn us about!'

  4. "The next words from her mouth came out in a very deep slowed human voice.
    It's an esseeeeeennnnnnntiaaaaal. oooooiiiillllsssss. paaaaarrrtyyyyy."
    Omigosh, this has sent me into a fit of hysterical laughter from which I may never recover!

    1. Same! The imagery is wonderful.

  5. TRUE STORY: I have been doing yoga for three years now, and I typically go between one and three times a week. This morning my yoga instructor told us to come in, and to (these are her words!) "smear ourselves with some essential oils" that she had left sitting by the front of the room. In three years, this has never happened. Ever. I chose the oil called "hope" and honestly, it wasn't too bad- BUT that didn't stop me from HOPING that was the last invasion of essential oils into my life!

    1. I actually own like ten bottles of different essential oils . . . I never remember to use them, but I keep thinking one day I might. (I had friends who sold them, and I'm incapable of saying no, and it seemed like they couldn't hurt.)

    2. Much to my husband's dismay, we've ended up with yearlong newspaper subscriptions three times when we lived in the US. Saying no is hard.

    3. You and I both need to practice that two letter word. Someday we'll get it down.

  6. Eli, I was at the show and you really don't need to worry. It was really a good show. Very entertaining and the sounds from upstairs were not too distracting. Aaaaaaaand they made this post possible so I think it was all worth the headache.

    1. Thank you! You've just been written into my will! (shared custody of Tami)

  7. "I cautiously entered the basement, holding a handkerchief over my face like a hero entering a burning house to save a baby."

    That might be my favorite thing you've ever written.

  8. I don't have time for a long write up. But I flew to Chicago Sunday night surrounded by essential oil smells and solicitors. It was kind of annoyed my until we started our descent. Apparently basil helps the ears adjust. So basil was liberally applied. The covered with mint because "we all know basil stinks". Fml. I still have a head ache

  9. I wasn't supposed to have my baby until September 20th. Then maybe I could have come to your show, now that I have moved back to Utah, and then I could have gone into labor during the show and named my baby after you.

    But alas, my baby decided to come three weeks early (just under a week after moving, sheesh), so I couldn't come to your show because I am constantly feeding him and attempting to survive on no sleep, and he's named after my grandpa instead.

    Better luck next time.

  10. I'm concerned about the items they left behind. Were the sounds of dying cats in the early hours of morning because these witches were actually murdering cats for their potions and concoctions?!

  11. I always thought CRUDE was the only "essential" oil.

  12. Is there going to be "Return of the Eli" or "The Last Eli"?

  13. I'm having serious Arsenic & Old Lace vibes here, (but reversed). Old ladies go stay at attractive, young men's homes and slowly poison them. Any friends that can run background checks on your Airbnb people before you approve them? Because #yikes

  14. I do not understand AirBnB guests. I just don't.

    I've only used it once and the lady I stayed with was very nice. I tried so hard to be quiet and stay out of her way because I was staying in HER HOUSE. Yeah, I know I was paying her, but I still didn't want to be rude and disruptive. don't get it when people are rude and demanding. I just don't.

    But the fact they showed up upstairs from Strangerville was a *little* funny.