Recently while cleaning things out of the guest cabin, I came across a glass bottle (possibly by now old enough to be of collector vintage) of Johnson’s Baby Oil. I’ve no idea how it got there, as some things in the cabin go back well before my time. In any case, it is most likely the oil has been there a long time. It has often seemed to me that with a name like baby oil, the product should be derived from babies rather than intended for their use. Even there, no baby I’m aware of uses baby oil on their own behalf. From start to finish, they rely on others to purchase, transport, and apply the oil. I also do not know why babies require oiling, which would make some sense if they squeaked. But they don’t. Babies cry and I don’t expect oiling them does much for that, not to mention how inconvenient and messy it would be if wailing babies and children had to be quieted with oiling. Noisy as kids get as they grow, things would become very slick and messy with oily residue found wherever children frequented.
If, however, baby oil calmed children, I’d think a business supplying it in volume to teachers, etc. would thrive. Imagine the educational advantages of non-traumatic tranquilizing of the young in classroom lots. An overhead system could shower a room of thirty and make them a lot more agreeable about fractions, integers, or binomials. I don’t know if something like that might have given me the grace to sit in Geometry and actually listen and learn something. I found it personally insulting being told that geometry would teach me logic, when one theorem after another had to be taken on faith. Was that logical? I didn’t think so at all, but I’ve no idea if being slicked shiny with baby oil would have corrected that. I doubt it would have done much good with valences, either.

Not a few readers and acquaintances remark that my tangents are often hard to follow. I do apologize, but baby oil has puzzled me for a long time, starting with some of the reasons stated above. When I was ten, I was more or less forced to watch a baby being changed. I believe this was intended as a form of reality training and sex awareness, that being due to the baby being of the other gender. The smell about did me in before any good could come of the experience. As I watched and fought my natural retching response, I learned that the smell of baby powder (also not derived from or purchased by babies) was as sickeningly sweet in one direction as the contents of a loaded diaper were in another. Both odors were horrible. I wondered how anyone could stand them. If I’d had my way, I’d have tossed the baby and all the other smelly stuff out the window and then run two miles in the opposite direction to be sure of fresh air. It’s a good thing I had no say at the time and that a decade earlier less hostile reactions than mine kept infant Harry from being flung out a window. I recall Mother (it was her idea that I watch my cousin be changed) asking my afterward if I’d learned anything. I said NO. I felt that a safe answer because it left little for discussion. I did think about the experience in later months, but always with the same conclusion that it was better to go the other way the next time I was invited to an episode of reality and gender awareness.
It could be that from the start I was not cut out to understand babies and that explains my thoughts about baby oil and babies in general. But my attitude doesn’t matter a bit. No matter how I recoil at the scent of baby, there are far, far more who get into the baby business in a very big way. We might look at herds of wildebeest or swarms of tuna as reproductively effective on the production side, but none of them have infested the earth as humans have. Safe from most predators, we have gone into replication overdrive. Um, but it’s not entirely true we humans do not have predatory pressure. We do. Many bacteria and viruses seem to like us because we get around and provide easy transport to new places and hosts. There is one animal predator of note, but that’s us. We do a reasonable job preventing the human mob from flooding the plains like the buffalo once did. Land and resource competition is one reason we’ve done in others of our kind, but politics and religion are not unimportant in human culling. The way we have gone at killing one another, my notion of harvesting baby oil from babies isn’t that unreasonable. I’m sure my geometry teacher would agree that the logical place to get baby oil is from babies, an abundant crop in all seasons.
I neglected one area of baby oil use. When I was much younger, girls used baby oil as tanning lotion, though I personally preferred the smell of cocoa butter for the purpose and would willingly lend a hand in its application. That was a few years after my educational experience with baby oil and powders. The Village of Hoyt Lakes had a fine beach with many fine backs needing an oily rubdown. I assume it was the shine that girls requesting this favor liked because they giggled quite a lot during application and tended to act displeased when I rejected attention to my back. Those were nervous times. As I look back on them, I see there was more in the call of baby oil and cocoa butter than was superficially apparent. The call of nature to join the baby-making game was countered by a powerful need to avoid doing so. Nature made being thirteen very easy. Civilization made things much more complicated. It’s a wonder we survive.