This phrase was popularized by a television commercial campaign for Palmolive dish washing detergent. Madge, a manicurist, would comment on the dry, rough appearance of her client's skin as she worked on one hand while the other soaked in a bowl of light green liquid. The client would ask her advice; Madge would recommend Palmolive; the client would act surprised (after all, how could a dish washing detergent affect one's skin? Preposterous.). Then Madge would inform the client about the liquid in the bowl: "You're soaking in it," she'd say, in a very matter-of-fact tone. The shocked client would immediately remove her hand from the bowl, and Madge would guide it back down, assuring her that everything was fine: "Palmolive softens hands as you do dishes."

The ad campaign was created by the Ted Bates Ad Agency in 1966 and ran into the early '90s.

Modern usage of the phrase occurs in situations similar to the well-intentioned ruse pulled off by Madge: someone is not aware of a situation or state, comments about it, and is told, "You're soaking in it." Example: a newbie might show up in the Chatterbox and ask, "hey, where's this chatterbox thing I've heard about?" Answer: "you're soaking in it."


It's that time of year: The sun sets earlier, the days get colder, the leaves would turn brown if there were any deciduous trees around, and I decide that snuggling into my sleeping bag while I'm sitting at the computer is a good idea. It keeps my feet warm, you see. I think the world is a better place when my feet are warm.

So I went and got my sleeping bag from the shelf in my wardrobe. I've been living here for almost four months now, so it's been in storage for a while. I hop in and waddle back to the chair, nice and warm, a little more cheerful because my feet are warm and it's sort of like being cuddled, and type away for a bit. Then I decide to pull it up a bit higher for added warmth, and see... some sort of ick on it. What kind of ick? I washed it after the last time I used it to sleep in, so it wasn't drool. Oh... it's just mould...


I was sitting there in a mould culture. An enormous, cosy Petri dish. I was stunned for a moment by the revelation that I was wallowing almost neck-deep in fungus. Then I shrieked and jumped out of my chair, and wiggled my way out of the sleeping bag. Close inspection showed that the mould was just on the outside, at the opening, and just a little on the inside - which meant I'd slithered my way past it earlier, no doubt acquiring some spores for my trouble.

After I'd shuddered convulsively and recalled all the charmingly appropriate X-Files episodes (the one about the alien fungus in the meteorite, the one about the silicon-based fungus that thrives in people's throats, and so on), I inspected the mould further. It was very faint, no doubt having only recently taken hold on the nylon. This explained why I didn't see it right away. Thankfully it wasn't shedding mould fibres on contact, though that wasn't making me feel much better. I then checked the bag the sleeping bag lives in when it's not infecting me with mould spores, and found it was relatively mould-free... Until I saw half the inside was covered with the stuff.

So this morning I started pulling things out of the cupboard. Nice black ruffled blouse? Lots of mould all down the left side. Much nicer purple blouse? Little bits of mould all over. Me? Furious. I've been through my whole wardrobe, in both senses of the term, and I'm fairly certain I've found the mould infested items - but I can't be sure. In a perfect world I'd just chuck everything out and gleefully buy new things, but I simply can't afford it. I'm going to have to assume the things I've been wearing are safe for a while, since they get to see the sun once a week - living in a block of flats means no way to leave things in the ultraviolet radiation, so the only ones that get a healthy, mould-killing dose of sunlight are the ones I wear all the time.

The upside to all this is that it would explain why I got sick the day I moved into this flat. I thought it was just my allergies playing up thanks to the all-wool carpet, but it's probably my allergies playing up even worse due to the mould. The downside to this is that my home is full of invisible spores who want to take up residence in my sinuses and sit there giggling evilly as they reproduce at alarming rates. This thought is made all the more shiver-inducing by the knowledge that I spent a few hours sitting in the stuff.

Aside from the looming expenses involved in trying to make sure my clothes are safe to wear - since the cost of a replacement wardrobe would be astronomical for me, the cheaper way is to resort to mould-killing stuff - I'm concerned about the sleeping bag. It is like an old friend, but if I cannot de-mould it (due to it's structure, highly likely), it will have to go. I cannot afford to replace it with a suitable one, which raises the important question:

How will I keep my feet warm this winter?

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