I called A. Peevie into the kitchen to eat his breakfast the other day. He walked in, and crinkled up his nose.
"What's that smell?" he said, turning on his heel and walking back out. "It stinks in there." It could be any number of things. My kitchen has fallen into an even worse state of messitude in the last few days. I blame it on C. Peevie's broken leg, and all the extra running around, phone calling, ice-pack getting, wheelchair researching, and doctor visiting it entails. Of course, A. Peevie has been known to complain bitterly about the fragrance of gardenia truffle and coral hibiscis, so I don't always trust his sensory perceptions.
M. Peevie walked into the kitchen after A. Peevie had left.
"M. Peevie," I said, "Do you think it stinks in here?" She lifted her adorable button nose into the air and sniffed.
"No, Mom," she said, "I think it smells like cinnamon and honey!" The source of the cinnamon smell was the ubiquitous cinnamon toast that A. Peevie has been eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the past six months. The honey? M. Peevie's fertile imagination, I suppose.
"A. Peevie, get out here and eat your cinnamon toast!" I hollered. Two steps into the kitchen, he complained again about the smell.
"What does it smell like?" I asked him.
"Butt," he answered helpfully. Well, great. My kitchen smells like butt. Or cinnamon and honey, depending on who you ask.
I had gotten up earlier than usual to attend to C. Peevie and his needs, plus get breakfasts and lunches for the other two Peevies. I was rushing around, locating lunchboxes, searching for shoes (I don't know how my kids always manage to lose ONE SHOE, but it happens so frequently, I think it must be a symptom of an actual diagnosable illness), helping C. Peevie crutch his way to the bathroom, adjusting his leg-elevating pillows, and getting icepacks. I had not even combed my own hair.
At one point I walked past A. Peevie in the living room (or "frunchroom," as they say here in Chicago), where he had brought his cinnamon toast; and he looked at me with a vertical line between his eyebrows.
"Hmmm," he said. "Mom, I think it might be you."
"What's me?" I asked
"You're what smells like butt!" he said happily. This was hilarious news to C. Peevie, who laughed raucously from his semi-permanent position on the couch.
"Really?" I said. "Geez, I don't want to go out into the world smelling like butt." I lifted my arms and smelled my pits. I wouldn't call it eau de butt, exactly, but there was definitely an aroma that would not win any popularity contests.
"Do I have time to take a shower before we leave for school?" I asked myself rhetorically, as I ran up the stairs.
I don't necessarily like being told I smell like butt, but it's better than the alternative of having friends and colleagues and total strangers notice that I smell like butt and talking smack about me behind my back. Now you can all rest assured that A. Peevie is on the job, making sure that I go out in public smelling like a respectable human being.