Feb. 14: The scent of Valentine’s Day

smellWe have a cabinet in our entry that has several cubbyholes with doors. When we first got it, the kids were assigned two of the cubbyholes each; Victor and I got the other two. The top of the unit is primarily a mail collection space for us. For the kids, the cubbies are where they throw everything they’ve been told to take to their rooms. Pisses me right off.

But, y’know, whatever. I occasionally open up all six of the cubbies and clean them out. I’m always surprised at how much trash is in the kids’. I mean, in our cubbies, Victor and I store gloves, chargers, spare keys, sunglasses, change… that sort of thing. When I open the kids’ there are two or three items of value and the rest is candy wrappers and permission slips and Chuck E. Cheese tokens until the doors barely stay closed on their own.

Besides mail, I keep my purse on top of this cabinet, as well as folders containing work and school stuff. In other words, I spend a fair amount of time standing at the cabinet looking at things. For the past couple days I noticed a stench, a body odor kind of stench, when I stood there. I smelled myself, my clothes, my purse… it wasn’t me. Later when I noticed it again I thought maybe it was a chemical on a new reusable shopping bag I had set next to my purse. It seemed to be slightly worse when I stuck my nose near the bag.

But that wasn’t it. And instead of investigating further (and giving myself a scent-triggered headache), I grabbed the things I needed and went to the table to read them. Since I was the only one who’d said anything about the stinkiness, I thought it entirely possible that it was my imagination or at the very least, my extra-sensitive nose.

I heard Jack rummaging around after he got home from school today, and then the cubby door slammed and he came running to me with a valentine. He stood proudly while I opened it—so sweet, that boy. But it was hard for me to show my appreciation because OMG, the valentine reeked. It was fierce. I smelled the card and, sure enough, the stench was definitely coming off it. There were stink lines and everything! (I might have imagined that part.)

I asked Jack, “Was this in your cubby?”


“Do you have something smelly in there?”


“Please check.”

Jack ran around the corner and I heard him open both his cubby doors. They banged around a little and then he slammed them shut. He came back to me.

I asked him, “So, did you find anything rotten?”


“Seriously? Then where the heck is that stink coming from?”

“I had a shoe in there, but I don’t think it was that.”

“Are you sure?”


“And was it just ONE shoe?”

“I lost the other one.”

“But you kept the extra? You kept the shoe you’d lost the mate to?”

“It doesn’t fit me anymore.”

(That’s me, shaking my head and trying to decide which line of questioning to follow.)

“And you tossed the lonely shoe in your cubby where it’s been ripening for Buddha knows how long?”


Jack started to smile. I’d like to think it was because he realized how silly that was, keeping an outgrown and very smelly single shoe. But I know the truth—his smile was at the thought of being responsible for the stench-tasticness of my Valentine and everything else within ten feet of his cubby.

When Vic got home this afternoon, he pet Lucy and said, “Ugh, there’s nothing worse than the smell of wet dog.”

Yup. Just wait until he gets his valentine from The Boy.


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