Gnats and the French Vanilla Whore.

Pure Vanilla Extract

Pure Vanilla Extract

Since I discovered cologne back in my pubescent years, it seems that every time I am within aroma proximity of an aging baby boomer the world ceases to spin long enough for them to toss out a comment that includes the words “french whore.”

Having the delight to fish and hunt with more than a handful of these mature, gruff, aging individuals, I find it puzzling how different they all are but so similar on their feelings of disdain for men that possess anything contradictory to a manly stench.

What I’ve found equally interesting is that the statement is used with profound and emphatic boldness. Considering the phrase was popularized by American GIs in western Europe during WWI and WWII, I doubt that many of these post-war sophisticates ever had the opportunity to sniff up a French whore.  If they have, I will be forever indebted to them for sparing me the details.

On a recent visit to the Driftless Region of southwest Wisconsin, I spent some time sharing fishing tales and gaining some local fishing advice from the proprietor of On The Creek fly shop in the city of Cross Plains.  Before my fishing associate and I departed for the evening hatch, we were warned to take any and all precautions against gnats.

Now, I’ve fished and hunted for many years and I take pride in my outdoor prowess and knowledge of countless home remedies and survival panaceas to make those experiences more enjoyable.  When the owner of the fly shop suggested we stop at the local pharmacy or grocery store to pick up some Absorbine Jr. or Vanilla Extract to repel the gnats, I thought, “Really?!?  I’d never heard that one before.”

Being one to never ignore local advice, the trip to the stream included a detour to the pharmacy (which was out of Absorbine Jr.) and then a trip to the grocery store where I secured a $2.49 bottle Pure Vanilla Extract.

To test the validity of this remedy, I began fishing without anything more than my usual streamside bath in my favorite DEET product.  During the first twenty minutes on stream, a small gray cloud of gnats swarmed around my head and face – landing on my glasses, crawling over my ears and threatened to visit my lungs with every deep breath.

When the bugs reached a level of annoyance beyond my tolerance levels, I removed the bottle of Vanilla Extract from my vets, pooled a few droplets in my hands and smeared it over my face, ears and neck.   I returned to fishing and as each minute passed the cloud of gnats dwindled and ultimately vanished.

After landing a few fish I ventured back to the truck to pass along this anti-bug epiphany to my post-war, baby booming friend and handed him the bottle.  As expected, he looked at me and stated, “What?  Now I need to go on stream smelling like a French whore?”

I looked at him any firmly corrected him, “No.  That would be a French Vanilla Whore.”

 

 

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