Is Jean Nate still a thing?

I have a new post up at Pittsburgh Magazine where I not only found nine awesome gifts for moms made by Burghers or about Pittsburgh, but I also talk a bit about how much fail went into Mother’s Day when I was growing up.

A lot of fail.

My father, God bless him, has not always been the most thoughtful of gift givers when it came to my mother. I mean, his intentions were always good. Always pure. Always from love. But man, did some of his intentions stink like a skunk that ate rotting flesh.


I didn’t realize it as a child, but now as a wife and a mother? Pee-EW!

One of the most distinct memories I have as a teenager was of one particular Mother’s Day, I think it was Mother’s Day, but it could have been her birthday, when my father bought my mother a giant bottle of Sunflowers perfume. Like, who knew they made it in bulk, am I right?

That’s all he bought her. And a card in which he underlined the words in the prewritten poem that he felt were the most meaningful.

You’re the love of my life.

You bring joy to my heart.

Happy Mother’s Day

You get the picture.

I think it cost him like fifteen dollars, and here’s the thing — My mother? Does not wear perfume. Ever.  Because she is INTENSELY asthmatic and has been since childhood. She can’t burn candles or she’ll wheeze. Humidity makes her lungs close up shop like they’re in Pitcairn. If she doesn’t want to gasp like a fish out of water, she needs her air clean, clear, crisp, cool and free of lung-clogging particles.

So the fact that my father bought her the super-sized bottle of a cheap perfume that would make her lungs sieze to the point that she would need to suck on an inhaler for an hour just to squeak out a terse, “YOU’RE THE DEVIL!”, didn’t go over very well. It was like buying a deaf person noise canceling headphones.

He’s gotten much better, I assure you. He takes her on cruises now.

Maybe you’re like my father was and you need a little help this Mother’s Day. If so, check out some of the gifts I found!

A snippet that proves us girls weren’t any better at gift giving:

I recall once sitting in my bedroom with one of my sisters and mixing the remains of three foul smelling perfumes into one all-new-and-improved Essence of Putrescence, and when my mother walked into the room, her eyes immediately tearing up from the sting of Eau de Pew, we exclaimed, “Ta-da! For you!”

Have a read!



  1. PensFan024
    May 5, 2011 3:37 pm

    Jean Nate is definitely still a thing.

  2. Baba Wawa
    May 5, 2011 3:43 pm

    i once gave my mom a card that read, “you’ve always been like a mother to me”….guess it would have helped to read the card more carefully

  3. histortweet
    May 5, 2011 5:16 pm

    Band Name: Essence of Putrescence

  4. Tina Fey
    May 5, 2011 8:31 pm

    Gin, do remember when Dad would take us to Thrift Drug to buy Mom’s gifts for Mother’s Day? I can’t believe Mom didn’t bury Dad in the backyard and cook us in the microwave.

  5. Virginia
    May 5, 2011 8:36 pm

    HAH! I had forgotten that. I remember lots of trips to Ames and Hills though. FANCY.

  6. Burgh Bird
    May 5, 2011 9:19 pm

    Dad used to take my sister and me to Hills and we each picked out a couple crazy pairs of underwear. I’m not really sure I understand why we thought that was an awesome Mother’s Day gift, but it was our tradition. Now I find it disturbing. I never did ask her if she really needed all that new underwear or if my dad was just lazy and didn’t want to think of anything to get her.

  7. fone guy stan
    May 6, 2011 7:33 am

    In defense for your dad, why are you beating him up for giving his Wife a bad Mothers Day gift. She’s his Wife, not his Mother.

  8. MJ
    May 6, 2011 9:41 am

    Oh yeah, Jean Nate is definately still a “thing” with some women. A few years ago I was at my former bf’s mother’s house. Someone mentioned something about the bathroom smelling of Jean Nate, when it was just a Glade plug-in. I started laughing hysterically and said “Jean Nate!!!! Really? Do they even still make that stuff!!!!?????” His mother shot me the death stare and said coldly “Yes”. Major fail on my part :/

  9. Jenny
    May 6, 2011 9:59 am

    One year for Christmas, my Dad got my Mom this giant metal pot and a very long wooden spoon. So it would be “easier” to make pon haus for him. That was her “gift”. To this day he considers it a thoughtful & loving gift.

  10. Kathy
    May 6, 2011 10:24 am

    It was like buying a deaf person noise canceling headphones. You’re bad.

    Children buy bad gifts, it’s true. But, they learn to think of other people and use the money they have. My Mom got a lot of hankerchiefs. i mean, like every year. Though, one year for their anniversary, I made her a macaroni necklace. She really wore it the whole night when my Dad took her to a 3-4 star restaurant in a formal gown. My mom is pretty cool.

    Now she makes out like a bandit, so I guess it was worth the wait. :)

  11. RJQ
    May 6, 2011 11:31 am

    Shalimar and Opium on sale at Revco.

    Good times.

  12. Danielle
    May 6, 2011 1:16 pm

    “Humidity makes her lungs close up shop like they’re in Pitcairn”. SNARF.

  13. Julie
    May 6, 2011 4:20 pm

    My Mom has kept every single gawdy “Mother” pin we’ve bought for her over the years at various Elementary Secret Santa Shops.

  14. Ginny's Dad
    May 6, 2011 11:20 pm

    Gin, I have no recollection of that gift probably because my long-term memory is shot after living with 6 hormonal females for so long. I’m sure the perfume was on sale. You know how I like to buy in bulk.

    @ #7 fone guy stan – I like you. My thoughts exactly.

  15. bucdaddy
    May 7, 2011 1:52 am

    Six? I count five.

    (BTW, I initially mispelled “count” [seriously] in a way that would have been an extremely appropriate reference to hormonal females but decided to edit myself because this is, after all, a family site.)

  16. bucdaddy
    May 7, 2011 1:53 am

    Did I just misspell misspell?

    Oh, the shame …

  17. Ginny's Dad
    May 7, 2011 8:12 am

    @ bucdaddy

    Five daughters and one wife. The dog was the only other male in the house and we were usually in the proverbial “doghouse” together – especially on Mother’s Day.

  18. bucdaddy
    May 7, 2011 10:38 am

    Ah, I thought there were four girls.

    You poor shmoe. Kept trying for a boy, though, didn’t you? *applauds the effort* Every girl after the first one must be SUCH a disappointment.

    Anyway, I have a joke for you, it’s mildly sexist and a bit racy, so read on at your own peril.

    Four guys who golf together are in the clubhouse after a round and they get to talking about their kids. One guy pipes up, “Hey, I’ve got five boys! I have my own basketball team.” The next guy says, “Well, I’ve got SIX boys, I’ve got a hockey team!” The third guy says, “Biiiig deeeeal, I have 11 boys, I have a football team!”

    Then they turn and look at Harry, who they know has 18 girls.

    Harry thinks for a moment and says, “I trump you all. I have a golf course.”

  19. Butcher's Dog
    May 7, 2011 11:11 am

    @bucdaddy: “Every girl after the first one must be SUCH a disappointment.” Consider Our Virginia was one of those girls after the first one, so the statement can’t be quite true. Or, um…never mind. Being a preacher he probably wouldn’t admit to the disappointment anyway. Bet he was glad when the last wedding was paid for, though.

  20. bucdaddy
    May 7, 2011 1:24 pm

    “There will be a third collection today … yes, again.”

  21. Jen
    May 7, 2011 7:42 pm

    I have to admit… I like Sunflowers perfume,just sayin’…

  22. Ginny's Dad
    May 7, 2011 9:43 pm

    Truthfully, I was just thankful they were healthy. There might have been a twinge of disappointment when the twins were born – #4 and #5. They didn’t do sonograms way-y-y-y back then – 1976 – so we didn’t know we were having twins. Princess Aurora was born first and after a few minutes, the doctor told us, “There’s another baby in there”. In unison my wife and I said “Your kidding!”. Having 4 kids in a 3-bedroom house was already pushing the limit. But then the thought came to my mind, “God is giving me a son.”

    Wrong. Pens Fan was born and we wouldn’t trade her for any boy and God gave me 5 grandsons with a 6th one due in August and possibly a 7th (Princess Aurora and Pens Fan are both due in August but one of them does not want to know the sex of the baby until he or she is born.)

    There were no extra collections because I did not become a preacher until 10 years later. I paid for 5 weddings in 10 years between 1991 and 2001. They better put us in a good nursing home.

  23. Butcher's Dog
    May 8, 2011 2:33 pm

    @Ginny’s Dad: your sainthood is already guaranteed, so don’t worry about how good the nursing home is. It’ll only be a temporary way-stop. (I guess that’s all they are for everyone, come to think of it!)