My friend Moira is mad for product substitution. I have yet to see her use a product for the purpose it was designed for.

?It all started when I saw a friend?s mother cleaning silver with non-gel toothpaste,? she once explained to me, a far away dreamy look in her eyes. ?I tell you, right then I knew this was something big. I had no idea what silver cleaner cost, but even if it was cheaper I made up my mind then and there, that I would use toothpaste.?

Over the years I have watched Moira use Windex to remove laundry stains, laundry stain remover to clean tacky scissors, shaving cream to keep mirrors from fogging up and Coca Cola to clean grout lines. She uses table salt to remove ink stains and meat tenderizer to get out blood. Once I asked her how to get out a club soda stain, and it threw her into a tizzy for a week.

Her favourite product has to be WD-40. I?ve seen her use it to remove tea stains from her counter tops, black shoe marks from hardwood flooring and crayon marks from wallpaper. Although, now that my boys have grown up, the latter isn?t the problem for Moira that it once was.

And I cannot emphasize the word ?once? too much.

Last week, she met me at the door, a can of WD-40 peeking conspicuously from her apron pocket.

?Gee Moira, it?s been 15 years since that happened. Can?t you let it go? I told you I was sorry. And besides, the boys aren?t even here.?

?What?? Then noticing me eyeing her can of lubricant, she smiles and waves her hands around her ears. ?No, no, no. It?s for the piano keys. Does a bang up job of polishing them.?

?You bought a piano? I never even knew you played.?

?I don?t. Can?t stand the sound of it. But I found this web site that just went on and on about what a great job WD-40 did on piano keys, and well, I had to buy one.?

?You bought a piano, just so you could clean the keys??

?With WD-40.? Moira says meaningfully.

?You painted the living room.?

?Yes. Just last week. I put the crayons up, I hope you don?t mind.

WD-40 does a great job getting crayon marks off the wall, but the paint has to be cured first.? She pats her apron pocket affectionately.

?I told you. The boys aren?t with me. And they?re 16 and 19.

They?ve outgrown crayons. But I?m still sorry about that one time.?

?Oh, don?t you even give it a second thought. I never do.?

?Anyway, the walls look great.?

?Yes. Well, they didn?t really need painting, but I heard that if you put a 1/2 cup of liquid fabric softener into a gallon of water and then swished a paintbrush around in it for 10 seconds, all the paint would just dissolve right off the brush. I had to try it out.?

?Couldn?t you have just dipped a brush in some paint to find out??

?You mean just dip the brush in paint, but not paint anything? What sort of sense would that make??

Sometimes I think Moira might be a tad loopy.

?So did it work??

?Oh, it was marvellous. Although it took closer to 12 seconds than 10. I think it?s all in the swishing motion. I can?t wait to try it again. Do you think the kitchen trim could use a coat of paint??

When I get home, I?m still shaking my head over dear, old, loopy Moira. I can just picture her swishing, her brushes in fabric softener, one eye locked on the clock. Twelve seconds. Huh. That?s quick.

Imagine just having to swish a paint brush about for 12 seconds and have it come up perfectly clean. In fact, the more I think about it . . .

what the heck. I?ve been meaning to paint the bedroom anyway.

Shannon McKinnon is a self-syndicated humour columnist from the Peace River Country.