Thursday, October 8, 2009

Citric Acid: a cautionary tale

So, after being betrayed by Fizz N’ Find’s “marketing,” David suggested we go hard-core DIY. To my credit, I deemed this an insane proposal from the stsrt. Bake a pie? OK. Make fizzy capsule with plastic toys embedded inside? Come on. I’m just an ordinary woman, not a mad scientist.

But a quick google search revealed that all we needed was cornstarch, baking soda and citric acid to make our own fizzy delights, because the toy that I’d been searching for high and low was nothing more than a souped-up bath bomb – you know, those fragrant balls people give you for Christmas that dissolve in the bath and create a spa-like experience in your home?

If you would like to make your own bath bombs, be my guest. Here is the recipe.

But, I should warn you, getting your hands on a stash of citric acid will be harder than you think. I am here to advise you that if you feel like you’re going to desperately need citric acid in the near future, get on top of that now, because it’s not the sort of ingredient one can pick up at the corner bodega.

And so it was that I found myself in Fizz n’ Find Odyssey Part Deux: The Hunt for Citric Acid. I tried pharmacies, supermarkets and even some delis and every time I asked for citric acid, the salesperson would give me a strange look which made me feel as though they were heading right back to their desks to red flag me with some governmental agency devoted to suspicious characters. I mean, as far as I know, the only kind of bomb one can make with citric acid is a bath bomb, but nonetheless, it has a suspicious sound to it.

Finally I had scoured the city—or as far as I could get on foot – for the citric acid and then I remembered that it was the year 2009 and we had this amazing and helpful invention known as the internet. So I ordered the citric acid online (duh) – breaking my rule never to spend $5 for shipping on a $2 item. On Sunday, after a month of searching, the precious acid arrived.

Despite the fact that Sunday marked the nadir of my sickness and I was so weak I couldn’t drink water without a straw, I rallied. Primo had been patient, after all.

“The acid has arrived, “I told Primo, “We are ready.”

I dragged my consumption-ravaged body to the kitchen and began the preparation while David went grocery shopping. I opened the box which held the citric acid and put in on the counter, and then got the cornstarch and water and bowl and hey – where did the citric acid go?

“I don’t know,” said Primo.

“But it was just here a minute ago,” I said, “And now it’s gone!”

In the distracted, exhausted state I was in, it was completely feasible that I had done something strange with the citric acid – put it in the fridge or the sink or the garbage. So I looked in all those places.

“Maybe Sec took it,” Primo suggested. Classic big brother assumption but worth a shot.

I rifled for a large plastic bottle of cinnamon that looked just like the one we were looking for and went into Sec’s room where she was yelling at her teddy bear.

“Honey,” I asked, “did you touch a bottle that looked like this?”

“No,” she said, “I didn’t.”

Primo regarded her: “She looked guilty.”

I regarded her. “No, I don’t think so,” I said, “I think she’s telling the truth. She’s been in this room playing for a

while. She looks innocent to me.”

So I got on my hands and knees and searched the living room and even the bathroom. I rifled through the recycling. I moved the couch. And then, light-headed, I collapsed on the bed and placated Primo by reading him “The Best Halloween Ever.”

This is how David found me when he came home. I explained about the missing citric acid and he asked me had

I looked in Seconda’s secret hiding place.

“But I don’t think she took it,” I said, “she looks innocent.”

If you’re wondering why I’m not a judge in a court of law, you have your answer/

We walked into the children’s bedroom, and opened the closet door. And there, on top of the piles of unpacked boxes, was the citric acid.

“SECONDA!” I shouted, “How COULD you????”

“I KNEW IT!!” shouted Primo, vindicated.

“How could you lie to me, your poor sick mother?” I asked her, to which she replied, “It’s not my fault. Don’t blame me.”

Its moments like this that I realize what we’re dealing with now is likely to be considered later, “the easy years.”

We got to work making the fizzy capsules, putting little plastic dinosaurs from the dentist’s prize bin in the middle of each. It was a messy, messy job but wildly successful. Primo popped every one of those suckers in the bowl of hot water and ooohed and aaahed each time they bubbled and burped out a plastic toy.

“They are even better than the ones we bought,” he exclaimed.

A DIY dream-come-true. Even better than store-bought.