“Ew, gross!” the Little Monkey shrilled from the bathroom. I think the same thing almost every morning when I discover that he’s forgotten to flush. How can something of such impressive dimensions come from that small body? You’d think I’d learn and hit the flipper before I lift the lid.
“Disgusting!” he kvetched. “What is that in the sink?”
I quickly comprehended the subject of his considerable dramatic skills. “It’s just my teabag. Sorry. It must have still been in my cup when I dumped my tea out. Just throw it away.”
“Ew! You mean touch it?”
“It’s. A. Teabag. I think you’ll survive. It’s not hot.”
“But, but…” His sounds of revulsion required only a John Williams soundtrack with plaintive French horns. You’d think he was eating slugs.
“Look what I found!” I showed him the signed, 1906 copy of Jack London’s White Fang. LM had read and liked Call of the Wild, so he knew who Jack London was, and I had also told him about the Jack London Historic State Park that I’d just visited in Napa with my mother. “Signed by the author,” I said, showing him the blue cursive autograph, “and by your great-grandfather.” I’d forgotten I had the book but unearthed it while cleaning. I’d also found the book my grandfather had inscribed to my grandmother on her birthday in 1930: Of Human Bondage. My father inherited his dad’s sense of romance.
Although only twelve, LM loves books, understands autographs, and generally shares my reverence of such artifacts, with appreciative exclamations like “So beast!” that I translate by tone of voice. (“So beast!” is apparently positive.) I thought he’d covet this book.
“Ew!” he said. “That stinks!”
If it had an old-book smell, I couldn’t tell, but I don’t possess the delicate sniffer that he does. At least I wouldn’t have to give him my book like I’d predicted.
“Ew! It’s slimy! There’s bird poop in it! That’s nasty!” I gathered by his facial expression that nasty was on the opposite end of the spectrum from beast. He danced the Loose Skeleton Repulsion Dance as he cleaned the birdbath as I’d requested, picking out each leaf with dirty fingernails rather than dumping it out. Maybe this would dislodge some of the black crust under his nails.
“Ew!” he said, gagging and reaching into his mouth to pull something out, holding his throat with the other hand as if choking. “What is it?”
I looked at the masticated speck now on his plate. “It’s the end of a string bean.”
“It’s not going to kill you. Eat your dinner.”
He grimaced at the stem, trying to decide between the horror of transferring it to his napkin or solving the strategic problem of placing his napkin over it, though his plate was still filled with food he needed to eat.
“Just pick it up and throw it away!” I snapped.
He shuddered, exercised every facial muscle he possessed, and used his napkin and butter knife to successfully transfer it to the garbage can with no bodily contact.
“Ew! Those are disgusting!” I said, trying to lift the sneakers with my fingernails. I wore heebeejeebee face.
I’d thought these shoes were toast before the start of the school year three months prior, but LM insisted they were “still good, I mean well, I mean good.” He had a pair of new shoes he could switch into at any time, but I’d decided to let him determine when that would be, since he loved his current pair and was now old enough to dictate his own wardrobe. The orange-laced sneakers were looking shabby, but I’d only seen them on his feet, which meant a good five feet away from my fifty-year-old eyes. At night he kept them outside, where they aired out, because of past issues with smelly feet, smelly shoes, and smelly bedroom.
But tonight he’d left them in the living room, so I got a close-up look as I prepared to carry them outside. He had a problem with touching teabags and string beans when he touched these every day? When he wore them?
I carried them at arm’s length, dangling them by the tips of their laces, face averted and nose scrunched, straight to the garbage can.
These shoes were fit only for a beast, but he loved them as if they were still pristine and beautiful. Tomorrow would come a terrible scene, where he would howl at their loss and I would define irony and melodramatic, where I would be the monster for destroying something he loves that can’t be brought back to life, no matter the incantation. But this momster gig includes some unpopularity–but not because she smells, and hopefully her beast cub doesn’t, either.