This is going to sound a bit overly dramatic, but I am pretty much devastated to find out that they have discontinued my favorite bubble bath. Normally, I wouldn’t get this flustered over a product (although it is annoying when you finally find a sunscreen, lipstick, shampoo, makeup, etc that you like and they promptly discontinue it), but this one has some sentimental value for me.
Let me take you back to January 2007. For those of you who don’t know, I have a ridiculous memory for pointless details. Let’s start with the fact that I know without a doubt that the date was January 6th — the first Saturday of my study abroad in London. I actually know this without looking back at my London Journal, but here’s a post from that week if you'd like to fact check.
I had finally somewhat adjusted to being on UK time and Professor Kerrane wrangled us all from breakfast at the hotel, walked us down to the bus stop, and the whole 18 of us caught the #68 bus from Southampton Row (in front of the Food City) to South Bank for a tour of the area. The idea was for KK (a nickname coined by study abroad groups past that we affectionately adopted for Professor Kevin Kerrane) to show us around the area of the London Eye, Tate, National Gallery, etc. After which, we all huddled under an overhang at the Globe Theatre awaiting our scheduled tour. That’s when it started pouring.
It had been raining all day, but as soon as our quirky tour guide, Kitty, began her theatric rendition of all things the history of Shakespeare, the skies opened up. Which of course is great when you’re touring a building with a giant hole in the center.
I distinctly remember that I had worn my brand new, slip on, blue, fake suede loafers because they were the most comfortable shoes I had with me. By the time we had finished our tour, I was squelching around and my jeans were wet up to the knee. Because of the rain, half of the folks I had come with headed back home, but the rest of us stuck around to watch some spectacle put on by Mummers that was unfolding on the street.
I’m still not 100% sure what the production was, but the costumes were something else. It was sort of a wandering production, so Alice, Em, Dan, and I wandered with them.
Eventually, because the crowd was so dense, I lost the rest of my group. The play ended, and I was alone in unfamiliar territory. For whatever reason, I felt at home in London from the second I stepped off the plane, so this didn’t bother me. Actually, I was pretty excited, because this marked my very first solo adventure since I really had no choice but to find my way home or to dryer ground.
Thoroughly soaked to the bone after about 5 hours of being rained on, I decided all I wanted to do was go home, hang up all my clothes (since we were hotel bound and a dryer was a luxury we didn’t have unless we wanted to schlep 6 blocks to the nearest Laundromat), and take a nice, hot bath before we headed out for a play that evening.
Although the hotel room we stayed in wasn’t fancy, it did boast one of the best bathtubs I’ve ever seen. Actually, until our recent stay in Harpers Ferry, it was the best one I’d ever seen. This isn’t the actual tub (why I didn’t take a picture of it is beyond me because I over-document every other thing in my life), but it is a tub in the President Hotel so you can get an idea of how deep it was. You actually have to hoist a leg up and over to step in. I had bruised shins for the first week until I got the hang of it.
So anyway, there I am on Southbank somewhere, in the rain with a plan for a bath. The other thing you must know is that this was also the morning of the great hair straightener/outlet converter explosion of 2007. So basically because the wattage was off, I fried my hair tool along with the brand new Brookstone converter from Christmas just 11 days earlier. Now that my hair was soaked from the rain, I was going to have to do something about it, so I hopped the #68 bus back to Northbank and got off at Holborn since I knew there was a Boots there. Because I'm weird, here's a map of exactly where it was. I stuck a star on the map to show you where my hotel was in relation.
So I picked out a straightener (with a British plug – if you’re ever going to the UK and don’t want to risk hair tool explosions, feel free to borrow), and now because of my impending bath, I picked out some cheap, 99p bubble bath. After a long walk down Southampton Row and Guilford Street, I wandered back to room 105, filled the tub, and began the love affair with the best bubble bath ever.
From that afternoon on, pretty much every day after our morning excursion into the city for class or a play or a museum, I would come home, run a bath, and pour in a few capfuls of Radox Herbal Bath with Vanilla and Milk. It was like crack. It made my skin soft which was a feat in and of itself during a London winter, and the smell clung to my skin in a way that was comforting. I would read all my assignments (lots of Orwell) in the tub before getting ready for dinner and either a play or a night out. I think I totaled three bottles of Radox myself and another one that Emily helped work through on that trip. And on the last day, I stopped into Boots and bought two more to take home with me.
So for the last three years, four months, and 9 days, I’ve been rationing the stuff a capful or two at a time. Every time someone goes to the UK, I beg them to stop at the chemist and pick me up a bottle or two, promising undying affection and twice the price. I almost caved and ordered it online for the whopping price of $12 with $17 shipping, but talked sense back into myself before committing such crazy acts of desperation.
So, now my mate TJ is returning home to the UK for a bit and of course I made the obligatory “Could-you-stop-at-Boots-and-pick-up-crappy-99p-bubble-bath-crack-for-me-please?” plea. He agreed and I was ecstatic. I decided to do a little research to see if I could find it online if for nothing else but a photo to go with the blog post gushing about how much I loved this stupid bottle of pink happiness. But I couldn’t find it. Anywhere. I immediately jumped on the Radox official website and frantically scrolled through every single product. Twice.
I used their search engine.
I looked through every page of the website to see if I could find news about discontinued items or some hint of where my beloved bath had gone. And then I saw it. The buyout. Sara Lee bought Radox. In 2009. Which means if they discontinued my product when that take over happened, I was an entire year late to the "buying-the-last-cases-of-bubble-bath-to-inject-directly-into-my-veins" party.
I emailed customer service, all the while willing that it wasn’t true. But alas, an overly cordial email hit my inbox just moments later.
Sufficient numbers, my ass! What do you mean? My 10 bottles over the course of three years wasn't enough to merit continuing to produce a product? Alright, fine. I guess you guys have to make a living too.
But the thing is, because I thought TJ was going to be able to pick up some more...I stupidly used the last precious quarter inch two nights ago. Now I can't even be creepy and smell the last little bit that was left clinging to the inside of the container.
So now, I’m willing to pay the ridiculous price online to get even one more bottle of the stuff if I can find it. If nothing else, the nostalgia of having it would be a reminder of some of the best weeks of my life so far. It’s funny how something as silly as inexpensive bubble bath bought on a whim one rainy winter day can come to signify a time when things were right in the world.