The Postscript

Forgotten salves

Carrie Classon

I was packing for our recent trip to Mexico when I found the old tube of V05. 

“Do I still have this?” Apparently, I did. 

Even though my husband, Peter, and I had moved a year ago, a lot of forgotten salves and soaps and lotions of various types had made the move with us. They sat in storage in the bathroom, pretending they had some reason to exist. I decided to do something about it.

“All the misfit and forgotten products are coming to Mexico!” I announced. 

There was the expensive moisturizer I’d picked up when I was in Europe. It smelled funny and had a weird texture, but I felt guilty throwing it out. There was a giant bottle of body lotion I’d been given by my sister-in-law, Shelley. There were a couple smaller bottles of various things, and there was an ancient half-used tube of V05. They all went into my suitcase, and off we went. 

My plan worked exactly as I hoped. 

Peter started using the peculiar-smelling European lotion. He claimed it had no smell at all – but that’s Peter for you. I started slathering on Shelley’s lotion, but was distressed to see it was not soaking in. Finally, in frustration, I got out my reading glasses to see what this stuff was made of. 

“Body soap” it said, plain as day. “Well. That explains it!” The lotion was demoted to the shower, where it did just fine for its intended purpose.

But the biggest surprise was the V05. 

It was in a metal tube with the paint peeling off and I had been moving it around with me since before my grandmother died 15 years earlier. My father’s mother swore by V05.

“It’s not just good for your hair!” she insisted. She said it was good for scratches on wooden furniture and dry cuticles and many other uses I’ve since forgotten, which explains why I’d been hanging on to this tube for 20 years. 

In Mexico, with nothing else to tame my frizzy, fly-away hair, I finally tried it. 

The V05 was terrific. And the scent brought me right back to my grandmother. I remembered the smell of my grandmother’s hair as clearly as the cherry almond-scented lotion she used. The tiniest dab kept my hair in order and the tube lasted well beyond our trip to Mexico. 

“I’ve gotta get more of this!” I declared when I got home. That’s when I read the awful news. 

V05 had been discontinued! I found a few opportunistic folks selling tubes for $30 apiece on eBay, but other than that, it seemed to have disappeared. 

“Oh, no!” I complained to Peter, who pays no attention to this kind of thing. (He thought the body soap worked perfectly fine as lotion, to give you some idea.) But a quest for a lost product is exactly the sort of challenge Peter loves. 

“You can’t find it anywhere?” he asked. 


The next day, Peter found some. 

It was still available after all, and at a reasonable price. I immediately ordered a lifetime supply. 

When it arrived, it was not in a metal tube; they had switched to plastic a long time ago, so my 20-year-old tube was probably a lot older than that. But the consistency and, most importantly, the smell, was exactly the same. 

I saw my dad that week, recovering from his pacemaker surgery. 

“Guess what I found, Dad?”



I dipped my head toward him in the hospital bed. 

“Doesn’t that smell remind you of grandma?” I asked. 

My dad smiled. 

Till next time,


Carrie Classon

is a nationally syndicated columnist, author, and performer. She champions the idea that it is never too late to reinvent oneself in unexpected and fulfilling ways. Learn more about Carrie and her memoir, “Blue Yarn,” at

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