It has come to my attention that I’m a messy eater, which wouldn’t be such a problem were I not so often clothed at the scene of the crime. Properly seated at a dining table, kitted out with a shroud-sized napkin, seltzer water, and an array of absorbent paper products, I can confidently churn through the most watery pho with greased shrimp; a steaming heap of soba noodles studded in lively vegetables and oozing garlicky black-bean sauce; piping-hot Thai coffee served in a wide-rimmed cup; and peeled peaches with floorward ambitions. Unfortunately, most eating—and subsequent food-related incidents—do not take place in such a controlled environment.
Typically, I dine at my desk. By around 8:30 a.m., I’m ready for lunch. I have set up a pastiche of coleslaw, a green salad with pears and potentially explosive blue cheese in a balsamic vinaigrette, a couple of cheese-and-spinach cannelloni floating in marinara, and a ragged, shingle-sized piece of focaccia topped with a snake pit of grilled shallots and onion—all spread out on the five-inch-by-five-inch piece of desktop real estate between my printer and keyboard. The task at hand is undertaken with a plastic demitasse spoon. Pepped up by the repast, I peck at the keyboard, tug at the mouse cord and, against all odds, work is produced. But at a hideous cost.
According to the immutable laws of physics, only three pieces of cabbage can be transported on a plastic spoon, and yet the coleslaw, in its dressed form, travels in wet glops composed of at least eighteen shreds. It will not abide dividing, like the atom. And I very nearly manage it, but, millimeters from my lips, the glop topples, landing with a heartbreaking splat on my knees. Only upon being raked up does the slaw forego group formation and start acting as eighteen incorrigible free agents. Then an inopportune phone call sets off a phone-cord-to-spoon chain reaction, which catapults the blue cheese with startling force. Fly little cheese, fly. The diaspora extends to the very edges of my office universe and several lost tribes are not discovered until I stand up.
My final ode to Jackson Pollock is accomplished via intense downward pressure on the titanium-enriched cannelloni, which takes wing and flies like a marinara-soaked arrow to my heart. But first it hits the jacket over my heart, wetly.
It is, I don’t know, humbling—to view, at the end of each day, such graphic evidence of what a fresser I am. The sheer amount of food, the reckless speed at which it’s consumed, the shocking lack of hand-eye coordination; it’s all there in the darkening splotches that spread, like melanoma, throughout my wardrobe. In fact, this is damn humiliating, but it’s not the end of the world, thanks to my twenty-four-ounce bottle of Shout Ultra Gel with the plastic-brush-applicator top.
I could go on at length by listing stuff I’ve banished with Shout, but here are some of the highlights: 10W40 sauce from Huong Sen, blackberry jam, neck grease, Seven Seas salad dressing, road dirt, and black rubber tire marks on some beloved lilac peau de soie pumps (don’t ask). Once—and here’s a testimonial that should be featured on Shout bottles—I purchased a white, perfectly filthy, one-hundred-percent cashmere coat for just $7.99 at Savers. I suspected some of the stains were bodily in origin, but what I feared even more was the synergy between such bodily fluids and mysterious commercial dry-cleaning toxins. With so little to lose, I applied Shout liberally, per the directions, loaded the whole unstable mass into the washing machine on cold/delicate, and am now rocking a Jackie O. look that is out of this world.