Those desperately churning out hand sanitizer have no time to tell you a story about it – nor the medical professionals who need it most. The problem with that arrangement is twofold.
One: About seven years ago, during a day-long psycho-cognitive evaluation, I failed miserably at the simple task of putting little pegs into their holes (this is not a metaphor or a joke). My vocabulary was alright, and I counted decently enough. But I dropped a ton of little pieces that resembled the colored constituents of a Mastermind row. Which means there’s no chance I can mix Everclear and aloe vera into an effective disinfectant in the least. A user of my hand sanitizer would be far more likely to contract disease than stave it off (have you heard of herpetic whitlow? Not that I have it – it’s just the lone finger-based funk I could recall from a college bio class).
The issue: how to cleanse the world with clumsy digits (and no medical degree, to begin with).
Two: We are asking more from our doctors and nurses and social workers than we should already – they must keep away from their own families and then serve as surrogate kin for those quarantined. They are tasked with saving lives and also sending out final messages.
You are heroes. How you manage it I don’t know. But I promise, when we’re past this, to bearhug anyone who wants a big one (just an offer – no Biden abruptness to fear).
Naturally, then, it’d be perverse for me to ask medical pros to research and share the unusual sources of their makeshift gear. Which is a damn shame – because in fact, amidst ample horror, there exist stories of benevolence and generosity and humanity.
This isn’t one of them, mind you – but look at your social media accounts or follow my mother’s – I dunno how she found TikTok or it found her, but the videos seem to delight the portion of our family and friends in need of giggles (everyone).
And you just know there are donations making a difference, even if the overall disorder is winning the day (may there be mercy on us tomorrow, such that we finally take the lead – but more on the various forms of “victory” in a moment).
The issue here: Nobody sneaks into the unceasing stream of grim and hagiographic updates any tales of globalized aromatic oddity, despite their being one in particular I find highly amusing. Incidental to the aforementioned crisis and its combatants? Damn right.
But incidental is all this housebound mother-effer has ever had to offer, in truth (look at how many of my boxing pieces aren’t even about boxing; eighty-five percent of the time I only noticed once I finished – then I shrugged and had an RX Bar).
Put another way: This writing here is the gold-standard in trivial – I pass it along almost as a goal – like if we can somehow calm and reclaim the real world such that this nonsense is more commonplace again, what a wonderful world it would be.
So, Nike. Also, Nike. Wait, what?
Eleven miles southeast of Seville, Spain, lies a sloping, tiered town technically titled Alcalá de Guadaíra but more commonly known in past decades as the Village of Bakers for the bread it produced for the city. Actually, better than that is “Guadaíra” itself, a remnant of Arab rule there prior to 1244 – when the name was Al Kalat Wad Aira, “the castle of the Aira river.”
Fitting moniker that:
Those turrets evoke rooks more than urban renewal, but one industry filling the space of another – literally and economically – was the big deal here a bit more than a year ago. Milk-mover Lactalis abandoned a big factory to bring all its operations to a single Grenada campus. But then De Ruy Perfumes, after making a $4 million profit in 2018, took over the plant and even added an additional 24,000 squared-meters.
Who’s De Ruy?
In 1929, a Spaniard founded a cosmetics and perfume firm named after the Greek goddess of victory – Athena Nike. Later that was shortened to just the latter word – all of this occurring entirely independent of two yahoos making rubber running shoe souls in a waffle griddle in Oregon in the ‘70s.
And then, at the turn of the Millennium, The Nike of Seville and The Nike of Beaverton finally had their inevitable kaboom. The venue was Singapore, whose Trade Marks Act allows for the revocation of brand-registration in cases of disuse. If a mark has not been exploited for the sake of business in Singapore proper in the five years prior to a challenge, a court can render it null.
In 1989, when sneaks Nike began airing the “Bo Knows” campaign, scent Nike received IP protection in Singapore. But by 2000, the sporting side felt it was time to move – Singapore having become a major business hub in basically a decade and a half. Cosmetics being broad, Sneaks Nike may have wanted to sell body spray or some sweat-related product – it didn’t matter for the sake of the first move.
Phil Knight’s crew challenged the legitimacy of the perfumer’s mark, and a registrar ruled in its favor: there were no Nike perfumes on-sale locally, so far as anyone knew and the burden was on perfume Nike to prove otherwise.
So the perfumer appealed, offering a judge a bill of lading with the De Ruy name on top and a purported product destination shop called Bhojwani’s.
Good enough for the judge – the first ruling was overturned and the Oregon Ducks looked like a Quack. But The Swoosh doesn’t take its L and fly home. Hell, no. The shoe company initiated its own appeal, while hiring a private investigator to perform recon its fragrance rival (in my mind, the detective looks like just Mars Blackmon).
The investigator visited 10 shopping centers and Bhojwani’s. At the former sites, he found no Nike perfumes anywhere. At the latter, some clerk told the detective Bhojwani’s didn’t sell perfume in Singapore – just Indonesia. Also, no Nike brand – ever.
Sneaker Nike won its appeal. Paradise lost for the Andalusian aroma firm.
Of course, the story didn’t end there. De Ruy Perfumes, besides housing Nike scents, was open to the manufacture of fragrance for third parties. And one particular party promised an outsize contract if the deal could be sealed – fast-fashion chain Zara. Fast forward to millions in profit made in 2018 and the reconfiguration of an old milk factory near the castle.
And then on March 15, a day after Spain declared a national state of emergency due to the fierce spread of this mothereffing virus, De Ruy Perfumes offered up its facility to regional and national health ministers for the production of hand sanitizer.
Where Nike perfume was bottled (and milk prior to that), there would now appear viscous viricidal goo.
Of course, that gel is barely the start of an effective response to our planetary pestilence. And no breakdown of its provenance can make it the magical elixir we want it to be – a cure, a vaccine – a rewind to the split-second before the first infection ever occurred.
That would clearly be a total victory.
What counts as nike short of that is up to medical authorities to decide. All I can tell is its relative distance from us at present. And some quixotic, incidental tales in the meantime.