Last summer, my two small nephews came to visit for a month. The problem with kids, especially little boys, is that they can be highly gross — even for a family that takes disgustingness pretty much in stride. Once, the Rev had to drive home with two Newfoundlands who had just both been sprayed by skunks, (twice — the boys were pretty slow on the uptake). She didn’t even bother to mention the incident for a few days.
“Mom, the dogs reek!” I screeched, home on one of my many larder raids. “What happened?”
“They’re fine. They just got hit by a bunch of skunks. Your father washed them with tomato juice! What’s the big deal?”
For about a year, anytime the dogs got wet you could smell the lingering stench, but it takes more than stinky dogs to faze the Rev.
Little boys, however, tend to be more terrible than even big dogs. Getting Avery to take his nightly shower involved a “Dukes of Hazzard” style chase, threats, bribery, and finally bodily hurling the child into the running water. Then you had to stand in front of the door, blocking it so that he couldn’t escape. I think he used soap twice the entire time he was here, and that was only because the Rev soaped him.
One evening, all of us adult people were exhausted. Mom wasn’t feeling well and had retired for the evening, so Dad called in the B-Team (me).
“Ab, I’m tired and Mom crapped out. I don’t know what I’m going to feed these kids. Get over here.”
“I’ll bring pizza,” I replied.
When I walked into my parents’ living room, the small children were flung over the furniture as though they were boy-shaped afghans. Lolling and bored, Jovanni barely turned his eyes away from the television long enough to notice my presence. Avery got right up and started bouncing on the couch.
“Hi Ab!” he exclaimed. “Did you bring PIZZA?!?”
I went into the kitchen and began pre-heating the oven. I noticed a fresh bag of cherries on the counter beside a dustpan just full of pits. Full, it would have weighed around four pounds, but the sack on the Rev’s counter was greatly depleted. Avery came running into the kitchen, grabbed a handful of cherries out of the bag (depositing a very sticky mess of pits in the dustpan) and raced back into the living room. I decided that I should investigate.
“Avery,” I asked, “how many cherries have you eaten today?”
“A BILLIONTY MILLION,” Avery replied, helpfully showing me his sticky, pit-filled fist. Further research seemed to be in order.
“Mom?” I yelled through the Rev’s closed bedroom door.
“WHAT? I’M SICK!” came the wheezing, irritated reply.
“Did you just buy that bag of cherries today, though?” I asked.
“Yes. This afternoon. Go talk to your father.”
That seemed like sound advice. I found the G.P. shooting billiards in the Great Room.
“Dad, I think Avery ate like three pounds of cherries, maybe more, ” I ratted.
“Yeah, so? That’s what they’re there for.”
“Isn’t three pounds kind of … excessive?”
“Fruit is good for him,” Dad huffed. There is little sympathy for snitches in my family.
I went back into the living room and told Avery he couldn’t have any more cherries. Instead, I made the kids a veggie tray. Avery gleefully plowed through the cucumbers.
I served the boys and the G.P. their pizza out on the couch. They had found a cartoon that they all wanted to watch, and were happily ensconced. Avery wasn’t touching his pizza.
“You need to eat your dinner,” I ordered.
“Okay,” he replied, slowly nibbling a corner.
“Really?!? You were so hungry! At least finish your milk.”
He chugged the last of his milk and scurried off to get a book he wanted to show me…
And stopped dead….
Turned to face his grandfather (who was watching the tv while simultaneously sneering at his own piece of pizza)….
And simply EXPLODED!
I had never seen anything like it, except possibly in the “Witches of Eastwick.” A flood of used cherries erupted from the child like a geyser of goop. I started laughing and shouting lines from “The Exorcist.”
Avery ran to the bathroom, leaving a trail of viscous, red slime behind him. I headed to get the paper towels.
When I got back into the living room, Jovanni was standing in his chair, clucking like an upset hen. I walked over to assess the pile, got down on my knees and started to wipe.
“What the hell are you doing, Ab?” queried the G.P.
“I’m cleaning up the puke, Dad?”
“What the Hell? Did a kid barf?”
Avery had literally burst two feet in front of the Dad’s face. I guess the G.P. was not a fan of the pizza.
“Stand aside,” ordered my father, impersonating Batman. “Don’t waste good paper towels on upchuck.” He went to the kitchen and returned with the broom and plastic dustpan.
“But, Dad, your broom will smell gross forever!”
“Out of my way!” Dad commanded. “Let an expert handle this.”
I went to the bathroom to find Avery sitting dejectedly on the side of the tub. I threw him in the shower, as the Rev barreled angrily down the hallway.
She popped her head in the bathroom. “Is Avery ok?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I relied. “He ate like three pounds of cherries and blew up.”
“At least. I told Dad about it!”
My mother looked at me scornfully, as though I should have known better.
“YOU SAID YOU WERE SICK!” I whined. “I told an adult!”
“You ARE an adult, Ab,” she rejoined as she stomped away to comfort Jovanni, who was sobbing like he was next in line to contract ebola.
“Shows what you know,” I muttered as I cleaned up the slime trail.
“Can I have some pizza now, Ab?” asked Avery, freshly washed and pajama clad.
“You’re hungry? After that??”
“I’m ALWAYS hungry,” he replied.
Then he ate three pieces of pizza.
They’re coming back in June. We’re investing heavily in Scotch Guard.