Some of the rules of adulthood are tougher to learn than others. If you stay up late and you have to get up early in the morning, you will be tired – for some reason (resistance) that one took a while to sink in. That due-by dates on bills are not just a suggestion sunk in a little faster. On the plus side, that I can have a glass of wine pretty much whenever I want periodically, joyfully dawns on me.
The rule that lately, unpleasantly, has been sinking in, and which I share here, is that you can’t ignore a bad smell in your home. It will not go away, no matter how much you pretend it doesn’t exist.
Recently the husband and I both noticed a really nasty smell at home. It had started all of a sudden, and seemed to be stronger in a certain spot in the living room. We checked the likely suspects – the shoes (curb your dog, in Spain? Ha!), the bathrooms, the kids – and looked around and sniffed around and couldn’t find the source.
And it really did seem sort of stronger in this one spot. So the husband and I – and remember, the husband is a scientist, which is generally a “follow the evidence” kind of field, and I’ve been a reporter, which is a “I’ll believe it when I’ve double-checked it” thing – well, we two regular proponents of proof and logic decided that there was reasonably only one thing that could be causing the smell: the Stink Ghost. Instead of throwing plates on the floor or spinning our heads around or whatever, some kind of ghost must have been doing its poltergeist-like thing by creating a stink field right there in our living room.
And so we went back to whatever we were doing, happy we had figured that one out. And of course, soon after, we discovered the cat’s present near the front door; by some trick of air currents the smells had wafted over and concentrated in a different spot. That’s what threw us off.
In our defense, the kids had been watching a lot of Scooby Doo (although I’m not proud of this either). Even for a cartoon, Scooby Doo is particularly senseless, but the standard plot idea is that supernatural forces are causing trouble (the supernatural forces are usually bad guys in masks). So we already had the idea of ghosts floating around.
Maybe we didn’t really believe it was a Stink Ghost. But how long could we go on searching? Particularly knowing that a successful search only meant we’d be rewarded with finding something disgusting. The smell could have been a Stink Ghost, and the Stink Ghost could have eventually gotten tired of haunting us and gone away, right? Maybe?
Yeah, I know, it doesn’t fly. That musty smell is mold. Which will grow. Or the oil or gas smell near the car means something needs fixing. Before it gets worse. The bathroom smell near your child – obviously he needs a new diaper. Before it leaks. Or the banana smell under the couch, or…so on and so on. These situations do not resolve themselves, and you, the grown-up, need to take care of it.
Everyone has his or her own myths, and particularly when you’re sleep-deprived, it’s nice to believe in them, for as long as you can at least. Like five minutes. Just one more snooze button. What can it hurt?
I accept the truth about the Tooth Fairy. But I don’t see why I can’t believe in the Stink Ghost.