Miracle Cure

Five weeks have passed since the skunk assault on our house. And though we’ve yet to spot a single one of the black-and-white mischief makers, either dead or alive, the calling card they left us lingers on. The good news is that I’ve heard from a whole lot of nice folks since the attack happened, folks who were eager to share with me their special secrets for getting rid of skunk odor. I thank them all for their suggestions, which included

• setting out open cans of Maxwell House coffee
• scattering mothballs in the crawlspace underneath the house
• spraying Febreeze air freshener several times a day
• setting out pans of charcoal
• placing a bowl of vinegar in every room

The blue ribbon goes to a gentleman named Damon Smith. Not only did he provide me with an almost-full bottle of his special miracle cure, he also gave me a wonderful story to go with it. Many years ago, Smith lived up north and was a route salesman for Drake’s snack cakes. With a wife and seven children to support, he was always on the lookout for ways to supplement his income. He found a promising possibility in an advertisement in “Salesman’s Opportunity” magazine.

It was a product called “One Drop,” distributed by Vendor’s Wholesale Supply in Portland, Oregon. Its guarantee? “One drop, placed in an ashtray, will destroy odor in an average-sized room.”

“I ordered a gross and sold every bottle but one,” Smith told me. “I tried it out in my own home several times and it worked like a charm. I kept my bottle of One Drop in the drawer of a dresser that I brought with me when I moved to Tennessee several years ago.” After he read my February 16 column, he got to wondering if that old bottle might still be in the drawer of that old dresser, which was now stored in his basement. Wonder of wonders, it was.

“And you’re going to let me borrow it?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “I’m giving it to you.”

I was immediately charmed by One Drop’s packaging—an old-timey two-ounce glass bottle with a black screw top. Its gold label was so faded and worn that I had to put it under a magnifying glass in strong sunlight to read it. “Chemically destroys and neutralizes all unpleasant odors,” it said. “Not a spray or perfume deodorizer.”

Because I don’t own any ashtrays, I took several Pyrex custard cups from a kitchen cabinet. Then I opened the bottle of One Drop. Holy smokes! It was like nothing I’d ever smelled—slightly spicy, slightly medicinal and definitely powerful. I shook a drop into each little bowl and placed them around the house. And though I can’t say that the scent of One Drop completely destroyed the skunk odor, it was definitely a distraction from it. I refreshed the drops several times in the coming weeks and then, though the skunk odor wasn’t gone entirely, I put the bottle away for safekeeping.

It’s a miracle cure too precious to squander.

Because you can’t buy the real One Drop any more. Don’t be fooled when an internet search takes you to One Drop concentrated toilet bowl deodorizer by Kobayashi. It’s not the same thing at all. So thank you, Damon Smith, for one of the most interesting gifts I’ve ever received. Here’s hoping I won’t have to use it again anytime soon.

(March 23, 2014)

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