Hello, my name is Molly and I’m a stain-aholic

I have finally broken through my denial and admitted my addiction to stains. As with any addict, I rationalized my behavior, tossing it off as normal even as I envied others capable of keeping their clothing stain free until ready for the rag bin.

It started innocently enough as most addictions do; A drop of salsa on a well-worn t-shirt at home, evolving into globs of guacamole on a full-priced Talbot’s blouse at a party. At my lowest point, I dribbled grape juice down the front of my choir robe on communion Sunday.

Every addict needs an enabler and Patrick stepped into this role with aplomb. He sharpened his stain removal skills, allowing me to hide my character flaw behind the façade of a woman who was confident she could handle food and quality clothing without any adverse consequences.

Hidden behind a pocket square or sequestered in a cigar box, Patrick carried a weapon that gave him a fighting chance to erase a stain while fresh: a Tide Stick.

Naturally, he couldn’t keep his eye on me constantly, so there were occasions when after an evening of gluttony he discovered a stain of unknown origin. He honed his chemistry skills releasing the mystery blotch from its captivity utilizing everything from club soda to hydrogen peroxide in his impromptu laboratory.

Frustration with my unbridled sloppiness intensified his efforts to control me. He hid my white blouses telling me they were ‘at the cleaners.’ He insisted I order menu items that matched my outfits – marinara sauce with a red dress, gravy with brown slacks. He packed a yellow slicker and demanded I wear it at picnics even under a cloudless sky.

Photo courtesy Pixaby, edits by author

He nagged me about my high-risk behavior: perching my plate on the edge of the table, lifting the beaters while they were whipping, drinking red wine without a sippy cup.

I caught a glimpse of the extent of my problem the night we went out to dinner, and I wore a new J. Jill top. Patrick cautioned me to tuck my napkin into my collar to fully cover my front. But buoyed with the bravado that comes from wearing an outfit made in China while drizzling Russian Dressing under dim lighting, I told him I could handle it.

Later under the scrutiny of a 60-watt bulb, a grease spot the size of a dinner plate was soon splattered with tears. I promised I would stop staining, aware of the toll it was taking on our relationship and my clothing budget. I confessed that I wanted beautiful things, and no amount of slobbering over buttery bread and oily salads was worth the price of dressing like a hobo.

You would think that would have been the night I hit bottom, but after Patrick restored the new blouse to pristine perfection, I went back to my slovenly ways, staining with abandon from my early morning bacon to my late night Klondike bar.

The weekend he sent me packing to #NSNC17, Patrick admitted he couldn’t cure my stain-oholism. He washed his chapped hands of my laundry issues and breathed a sigh of relief he wouldn’t witness my public humiliation.

It wasn’t until I was home, basking in the glory from the weekend conference, that I faced the truth about myself. The NSNC released the conference photographs, and there I was smiling into the camera, standing between Pulitzer Prize winner Maureen Dowd and NCNC president Lisa Molinari. With a stain on my blouse.

Photo by Cynthia Ballard Borris, edits by author

This incident jolted me into admitting I was powerless over stains, that my laundry had become unmanageable. I believed that a power greater than Dawn detergent could restore me to cleanliness, and became entirely ready to turn over my soiled spots for permanent removal.

After being stain-free for twenty-nine days, I dared to go to dinner wearing a white blouse. I declared when we got home that I was proud I made it through the evening – even gobbling a chocolate brownie sundae – without a stain.

Patrick said, “Check your left wrist. You dragged it through the mushroom sauce.”

Alas, no thirty-day chip for me. But I’m back on the chuck wagon. Wearing a yellow slicker.

Anyone else ready to admit to this addiction? I need a sponsor.


©2017, Stevens. All rights reserved.

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83 thoughts on “Hello, my name is Molly and I’m a stain-aholic

  1. When I worked in pastry, I was definitely a stain-aholic. Think about white chef jacket. It was all nice and clean when I went into work and chocolate/cake batter were all over it by the time I got off work. The apron took the brunt of it, but I would still get some too in my jacket without fail every day.

    • Hahaha! I don’t have much of a ‘shelf’ but manage to splatter the whole front of me. One day I had a spot on my right shoulder and under my left boob. And I can’t imagine how I did it! Glad your part of my club.

  2. I love it! That was just the comedic experience I needed right at this moment! Thank you for sharing your addiction with the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty.

  3. Hilarious!! I hope Stain-aholics Anonymous will take you in and help you to stay on the no-food-stains wagon. Thank you for linking up at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I’m sharing your link on social media.
    Carol (“Mimi”) from Home with Mimi

  4. Hahaha! Now that’s funny!! We always joked about my mom because everywhere she went she had a dribble right down the middle of her blouse! Alas, I’m afraid I’m beginning to follow in her footsteps!!
    Thank you for linking up at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty

  5. I think when we’re trying really hard not to get a stain on our clothes is when we get the most stains. Thank you Molly for an enjoyable read 🙂 and for linking up at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I shared your post on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter.

    • Glad you enjoyed reading about my hopeless addiction, Grammy Dee. You are right about being even more prone to stains when trying hard to avoid. It’s like trying to dodge a prolific talker in the grocery store. You can try to hide in seafood, but she will still find you! Thanks for sharing.

  6. You make me happy. I love reading your posts. Truth be told, I spill things too. 🙂 I always blame it on the “girls”. I tell my hubs they are just out there and in the way and that’s why something always ends up on my blouse. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing with us at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I have shared on social media.

    • Thank you Clearissa. I’m so glad you enjoy my posts. I try to bring some levity into an otherwise serious world. I can’t blame my addiction on ‘the girls’ since they are not much of a factor, on any level. Hahaha! Thanks for sharing.

  7. You always bring a smile to my face Molly. I read this as I was soaking my grandson’s clothes! Have a great week and thanks for sharing at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty

    • At least it was your grandson’s clothing and not yours, Sue! Let’s hope he is exhibiting natural childhood signs of staining and not the framework for a lifetime of stain addiction. You’ll need to be watching closely so you can get some early intervention for him. 😉 Fun to participate in the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty

  8. I so enjoyed this post. Thanks for starting out my day with a laugh. I’ve been guilty of the occasional recreational stain, but so far have been able to avoid making it a habit. Good luck to you! Thanks for participating in the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty!

    • It all starts with the occasional recreational stain, Christie. I hope you’ll stay alert to the signs that you’ve tipped over the edge and get some help straight away! Thanks for sharing a laugh with me on #bloggingGrandmothersLinkParty.

  9. Oh yes! Me too – really badly. But I never notice until I am out somewhere and maybe catch sight of myself in a bathroom mirror and find I have something dried up and crusty on the t-shirt I thought was ok. SO many times!

    • Yes, when I buy something new instead of saying, “Where will I wear this?” I say, “Where will I stain this?” Hahahaha! Glad to have many kindred spirits who share my affliction. Why don’t we start a fashion trend for pre-stained clothing? They already sell ripped clothes, so this would be perfect for us!

  10. Brilliant! It was more of a habit with e, than an addiction. Hopefully I’m cured of it now. Went for a curry last night and I didn’t succumb once. Proud.

    • I don’t want to splatter balsamic vinegar on your unstained shirt, but that’s what I thought too. Then there was the gravy incident. I’ve heard overconfidence can come before a fall. Grab a yellow slicker before you’ve ruined your best outfit!

  11. hehehe You are a brave brave soul Molly. Some might argue that you are the Saint if the Stain. I’m sure this public admission required a brilliance of courage we mere mortals couldn’t stare at directly without going blind. I stretched the metaphor into some kind of unrecognizable yoga-ish contortions here, but I hope you can reach my meaning (and I’m doing it again.)

    However, your strength and humility to share your weakness has given me the courage to face what so many have known for so long.

    Hello my name is Gabe. And i have a problem with writing…

    • It was difficult to go public, Gabe. I can’t accept being called the Saint of Stain as I believe I need to endow my husband with that title. He is the one who deals with my messes, after all. I do like your reference to my ‘brilliance of courage’ however and will try not to take out anyone’s eyesight with my glow. As for your weakness, I fear I share it too! And it is impossible to hide even if we wanted to, isn’t it?

    • I suspect your husband and I probably can trace some common ancestors with porridge dribbled on their puffy shirts from a couple of centuries ago. If you need any stain removal advice, I’m thinking of having Patrick start a YouTube channel. Haha!

    • Ah, another kindred spirit, Shelley! One of my favorite phrases after Patrick has worked his fingers to the bone to get the stain out is, “Oh, you can barely see it. I’ll still wear that.” My standards are low, but I have a closet full of clothes. Haha!

  12. OMG, too funny. It was only this morning I stained my navy blue jumper with toothpaste as I was in such a hurry. Great post, I read it with a smile on my face. Great to connect with you Molly on Big Up your Blog. Lorelle 😉

  13. Oh my days! I read then stopped and re read. Thank goodness you’re not as I thought A Statinaholic ‘phew’ *wipes brow* what you are though is brilliant! Congratulations on the award *stands to applaud* Also my Dad used to keep saying “don’t spill it, watch out” and occasionally would shout “dont give it to Ellen”… this was terrible at a family christening where all dressed wooshy I elegantly steped up to take the angelic infant only to hear his voice very loud above the organ. *sigh* there was nothing for it a joke had over stepped the threshold of funny, so I nicely said I am grown up and responsible for my spills and moments of misfortune it is time Dad to stop protecting me. I kissed his lovable cheek and he said “I am protecting all the others love” we laughed so loud and from that day he stopped. My clumsiness has long since gone along with Dad and you know I wish I could hear him shout once more. Lovely blog and pleased to connect with you. P.s. what you do we call Ernies in our family, because uncle Ernie always had a spot or a flob somewhere.

    • I love it, Ellen! You have a name for your spills. I wonder if I’ll ever be as big a legend as Ernie. I can always hope I’ll make it to that level as I think I’m well on my way. Thanks so much for popping over from Big Up Your Blog to share a laugh with me today. I wish I could hear my Dad’s voice giving me advice again too, Ellen…..

  14. OMG, laugh out loud funny, Molly. I have the reverse problem…my husband spills things on ME! I learned not to wear light colored clothes to our delta campground, because hubby loves his red wine. However, I neither like red wine, and I definitely don’t like it ON my ecru camping pants!

    • Your husband is a genius Terri! A strainer who can look totally innocent while loved ones wear the evidence of his folly. I’m going to have to work on my stain projection skills. To protect yourself you may want to buy him a sippy cup for his wine. I’m thinking about designing some with long stems. 😉

    • If I worked up a sweat, I’d agree with you about the white t-shirts, Anita. In the meantime, I’m avoiding all white clothing unless it’s a tank top I can wear under something else. And I’m still worried the outer stain will leak through to the inner layer, but it is a risk I’m willing to take. Glad you are a kindred stainer, though. I knew we had a lot in common!

  15. Really funny (lots of laugh out louds) and I totally relate!
    Love the idea of matching clothes to what I eat…

    • Glad you can relate, Denise, and that you had a good laugh. Matching the menu with the clothing works really well. Think of it as matching your palate with your palette. Avoid wearing white unless you are a big fan of white rice, though. You’ll be hungry in an hour.

  16. Okay, fellow-stainer, what do you think about this strategy? We designate certain outfits to be worn every time we eat at certain restaurants. Then we offer our services as mobile menus, parading through the restaurant and allowing folks to make their selections based on our stains, thus saving them the annoyance of trying to read tiny print and fancy fonts in dim lighting.

    • OMG, this is a brilliant idea, my friend. The upgraded version of a sandwich board and so much more effective. They could even scratch and sniff depending on where the stains have landed. Suppose we could get free meals for our efforts?

  17. I thought I could hide my stainaholic ways with a Tide -to-go Instant Stain Remover Pen. No luck! The pen removes the stain from whatever fell on my chest or my lap and leaves a giant ring in its place.


  19. I went to a ballgame as a kid, ate a hot dog, and ended up with mustard on top of my head. Probably no coincidence that’s the same spot where I’ve started to lose my hair.

    • So funny, John! I haven’t had mustard on top of my head. Yet. But I’ll be very careful about it, since my hair is thinning and I don’t want to risk a bald spot. Thanks for the valuable tip regarding this potential disaster!

  20. This made me laugh! I’ve a lot of photos of myself as a small child with towels on my lap while I’m eating various things (usually an icelolly, icecream or candyfloss). They always make me smile as it proves that my own pattern for gathering stains started early! 🙂

    • Alas, Val, I believe this addiction is rooted in childhood. Even though children are naturally messy, there are a few of us who start staining early and never grow out of it. I love the image of you draped with towels because I can so relate. But I still manage to splatter something in a spot where the towel or apron fails to cover completely. If it wasn’t so damaging to my clothing, I’d be sort of proud.

    • Your comment made me so happy, Dave, because I was going for both hilarious and original and you got both of these concepts when you read it. And I’m grateful you read it! It gave me great satisfaction to air my dirty laundry in public.

  21. Just hiliarious! So funny, and yet I feel your pain. This problem only gets worse as you get older. Ever been in a nursing home? They are spattered with stains always. There is no cure. You just started way early. Me too.

    • It would be interesting to do a study to see how young the older stainers were when they started down this path of treachery, Denise. Also it would be interesting to study those who don’t stain even in old age. I bet I could get some government money to get this important study under way. And if government funding isn’t available maybe Tide would toss some money my way. They need to identify their biggest users asap to keep their competitive edge.

      • Ah no! That’s my job, I make the stain so I clean up the stain! He does however make fun of me mercilessly and waits eagerly for me to drop some food as I’m eating. He’s very mean 🙁 but we’ve been together for 37 years.

        • I’d say he’s stood firm as a non-enabler for 37 years with his tough love, Debbie. He’s given you every chance in the world to enter recovery. Keep resisting! Eating with abandon is just so much fun, it’s worth the stains!

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