Can Do

I love Comet. And I don’t mean cosmic snowballs of frozen gas. I’m talking about the ubiquitous round cardboard can sporting a logo that hollers, “I’m from the 1950s and proud of it!” It’s the Comet my mother bought. In fact, I might have the exact same can that lived under our bathroom sink when I was a child. It’s possible as I question how much it was used beyond my own hands. It’s no secret my mom was challenged in the housekeeping department. If cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness, we were a family of heathens; no wonder we went to church so much. Even though my mother had no aptitude for neat and tidy or, let’s face it, sanitary - it’s a wonder I’m alive - she did cob together an ingenious plan for house cleaning. Have seven children who would attempt to do it for her. Thus began my romance with that gorgeous metallic green can.

My first introduction to the product was via Jane Withers, who is to Comet what Mr. Whipple is to Charmin. Her character, Josephine the Plumber, bespoke the wonders of the cleanser and, in hindsight, was somewhat progressive. After all, Josephine not only had a job, she had a trade. I’d focus on Ms. Withers, keenly studying her commercials and collecting tips for my future career. Not plumbing, mind you, although come to think of it, it may have been a wise choice.

As a girl, way before employing the product, I used Comet as a prop in the commercials I’d make in our bathroom. The only room in the house with a lock, it was the perfect sound studio if one could ignore the relentless door knocking and yelling. That cylindrical can of Comet got great air time; it was a beauty. I’d hold it up in a display worthy of Vanna while delivering my pitch to the mirror. Using the container’s text, I’d sell the crap out of it. “Bleaches out stains!” I’d all but shout at my reflection. 

When I grew older and became enlisted in sibling cleaning squad, I finally peeled the paper back from the container’s top, revealing its seven salt-shaker-on-steroids holes. I fell in love. Comet works. It has provided me decades of joy. Well, joy and super clean sinks. And when you grow up in a dirty house, you love a clean shiny one more than life itself. 

Tis bliss and nothing less than absolute conviction when one shakes a can of Comet and sprinkles that pastel green powder onto a dirty surface. To do so is to know change is imminent. That dirty bathtub is about to go from grime to sublime. Comet creates instantaneous results and a sense of deep satisfaction. This is a feeling I wish I could replicate in my every day life, the gratifying equation of do “x” and get “y.” 

Indeed, Comet itself, may be responsible for my innate optimism. It may be that this green can showed me that many things are possible with a little elbow grease and a bleaching agent, which let’s face it, is all about lightening. Lightening stains simply transmuted to lightening life. 

That cardboard can of Comet reads, “scratch free,” and that’s how I want to live my life, cutting through scum scratch free. Ergo, from sprinkle to twinkle, I’ll always keep Comet in my home. Although, I admit, I am my mother’s daughter and often unable to keep up with the rigors of cleaning. So, if you walk into my house, do not judge. Blame it on genetics. And hand me that shiny green can.

In MusingCarole Vasta Folley