Monday, November 15, 2010

You May Want to Come Back Later if You're Having Lunch Now

I've had some pretty disgusting moments in my history of marriage and parenting. I was with my husband for sixteen years, and I have two boys, now teenagers, and we've had more than ten pets, if you count all the cats, frogs, turtles, snakes and the dog. And during this time, I have had some pretty disgusting moments. I'm not sure I've ever told my most disgusting moment story from beginning to end.

My most disgusting moment was not the very early on poopy diaper contest, which I won by default when my newborn son turned up on the changing table with poop on the top of his head, and the soles of he feet, and most spots in between. It was also not the time an out-of-town friend so admired some cardinal feathers she found that she displayed them for the rest of her visit on the edge of my upstairs bathroom sink. Unfortunately for us, those feather were still attached to a wing, and the wing had been recently ripped from the shoulder socket of poor Mr. Cardinal, which I knew because flesh still hung from the bones. The bones which rested so artfully next to our toothpaste and soap.

It was also not the great fly debacle, which was not so much a disgusting moment as a disgusting and very long month-and-a-half. Our cat, Alpha, had found an already-dead (read: maggot-infested) frog, which he brought into the house before I could stop him. He ran  into the cellar with it, and I ran after him, but I never found the frog. Days later, flies started showing up in the house; first in ones and twos; eventually we had scores, and probably hundreds of flies, mostly in the dining room and kitchen. So at least our tv watching wasn't too impacted. Only our food prep and consumption. I would herd flies into the area between window and screen and then quickly close the window, cross my fingers and then just wait patiently for all the flies to die. I hoped they wouldn't reproduce in there, envisioning my brand new windows closed and permanently nailed shut as generation after generation grew and thrived: our own miniature entomological Great Barrier Reef, Medford-style, in the making.

And over the years I have simply gotten used to picking up every sort of dead animal, or remaining parts thereof, with the longest-handled shovel I own, and flinging it across the fence into the Fells, or into the creek behind the house for burial, eventually, at sea. So dead rodents aren't involved in my most disgusting moment, either.

Agent 98 is.

He was 8 or 9, and came to me with a hangnail. I kept an eye on it, because there's really nothing but time that can heal a hangnail. A day or so later, a soothing soak in epsom salts. A day or so after that he showed me the finger again, but by now it was swollen and red, and really quite infected.

Look away now if you're still eating.

I did the only thing I could think of: I squeezed it to get rid of the infection.  I heard an audible "pop", and 98 felt instant relief. I found a tiny speck on the kitchen floor, and cleaned it up with a wet paper towel. I recall being a bit surprised that his giant swollen finger didn't leave more ... ahem, sorry ... evidence. But I cleaned up, and went on with my life. Ah, not so disgusting, you say?

Weeks later, Tom was in the kitchen, glanced up at the ceiling, and spied what he immediately recognized ... again, ahem, sorry ... as the missing piece of the puzzle.

Yup, I took a picture.

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