Last night I climbed into bed with David Sedaris. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But then my sister Mood Ring Momma joined me. She brought along Jennifer Weiner. What to some would be a happy, if odd, foursome, I was spent from the day and a fine at-home party and so turned off the light and went to sleep. This week’s activities have been no less time-consuming and mundane than last week’s and I needed my beauty sleep before church in the morning. But then I woke up at 3:30 this morning giggling, mentally reviewing yesterday’s events. I didn’t actually know it was 3:30, I was just guessing by the light shining through a little shade-less window in my bedroom. Mood Ring had just been to the bathroom so my laughter didn’t wake her up; she helped me review the events which made me laugh even harder.
So, anyway, yesterday I was giving my father a pedicure in the kitchen, MCV and the Radish were skewering pork, onion, and apricot kebabs, Thing 2 was checking his computer game, and Things 1 and 3 were lounging on the sofa, books in hand. The nephews were downstairs. A regular Rockwellian scene minus the husbands. All was quiet above deck except for the whooshing of the electric foot bath. And it was into this idyllic silence that my nephew Cheese Fighter intoned, “There’s poop on the stairs.”
Earlier, he and all the cousins had been roughhousing on the carpeted stairwell leading my parents’ first floor TV room. Cheese Fighter said this matter of factly, no hint of alarm, his voice not even rising a note, let alone an octave.
When the laughter died down, someone was brave enough to inquire:
“Is there really poop on the stairs?”
“Yep.” Cheese Fighter replied. His brother verified this, likewise not alarmed. But now that we had confirmation, adult inspection was required. Each parent mentally scrolled down the list of her children and duly queried each offspring, resulting in a chorus of inevitable “Not me”s.
“Maybe it was the cat,” Cheese Fighter said.
“We don’t have a cat,” Grandma Radish replied.
The most likely culprit was the four year old nephew. I happen to know that underneath his hand-me-down Lilly Pulitzer shorts he was not wearing any underwear. Also, he had just eaten a bowl of cherries and had been wrestling with the cousins on the stairs. Heaving a sigh, MCV laid down her kebab and gamely trooped downstairs.
“Dear Lord,” she exclaimed from down the stairs, confirming the veracity of the claim. It was this young mother exasperation of her’s that made me laugh so hard in the middle of the night.
Again, riotous laughter upstairs. Ever the inquisitor, she demanded an answer, “Who did this?”
Coming up the stairs for carpet cleaner and a roll of paper towel, MCV defiantly said, “Well, I just checked G3’s bottom and there’s no poop. Plus, it looks like someone stepped in it. Everyone check your feet.” The last bit was said with a certain smugness.
All of the children were barefoot so this announcement produced shrieks as soles were frantically scoured for signs of poop. Nothing doing. The mystery continued, MCV still maintaining, as she scrubbed the carpet, that her four year old was innocent.
It was then that I turned my attention to my Thing 2, who claimed to have just bathed. He was sitting at the counter 3 feet from me, wearing shorts. His hair looked freshly washed. On his knee was a dark green smudge.
“How do we know it was poop?” I asked.
“Oh it was poop alright.” MCV replied, heading down the hall to the powder room to wash her hands.
“And you,” I said to Thing 2, “how is it that you have bathed and missed an entire swatch of dirt on your knee?”
“Oh that. That’s grass.”
“How do you know it’s grass?” I persisted, following a hunch.
“Because it’s green.”
“Poop can be green,” we all said.
“Here, let me smell it.” Thing 3 said (can you believe? Dear Lord, indeed.)
By then Thing 2 had arisen from his chair and taken a good gander at his knee. “Holy crap!”* he said, jumping off his chair and running to the bathroom to remove the offending matter. A fresh round of guffaws ensued. Nothing could be grosser to a tween than a poop schmear on their skin.
I finished When You Are Engulfed in Flames today at the beach but Mood Ring is still engrossed in Good in Bed. It’s almost anticlimactic by comparison. As my sisters and nephews piled in the fancy pants mini-van to head for home this afternoon, I could only wonder if next weekend’s Tommy Bahama Tropical Fest on the Fifth will be as much fun. Well, maybe, if Mr. Understanding tells his pork chop story. But I’m a little dubious.
*He really said this.