Copyright© 2020 by Lazlo Zalezac
Sean was tempted to stop by Suzie’s house on the way home from work, but after being in the hot kitchen at Dairy King for a couple of hours he stank. It was so bad that even he could smell it. It was a mixture of grease and sweat that would have brought tears to Superman’s eyes. It wasn’t a mild little odor, but a true stench that was capable of killing any mosquitoes that ventured too close to him.
Upon reaching the path to Suzie’s house Sean stood there thinking about the beautiful woman at the other end of the path. He knew that no matter how much Suzie cared about him that one good sniff and she’d run for the hills. With a sigh, he continued on down the path towards his home. Rather than the lovely Suzie it was his mother at the end of that path.
Upon reaching his home, Sean stopped by the garden hose that snaked across the lawn. Looking down at it, he considered rinsing off before heading into the house. He knew that the smell was pretty bad. It would also feel pretty good to stand under the cool water after having spent the whole day in the kitchen. He stared at the hose for a full minute and then said, “Going in the house smelling like this would be too cruel. I should wash myself.”
He looked through the kitchen window and saw that his mother was alone in the kitchen. He smiled and said, “After a hard day of work like that, I need a hug from my mother.”
His mother was washing the dinner dishes so that they could be put in the dishwasher and washed once again. She took one whiff of the odor steaming off Sean and said, “Jesus, you stink. Did you run into a skunk on your way home?”
“No. That delightful odor is my new perfume. It is called Sean Au Natural,” Sean answered giving the name of the perfume a French pronunciation.
“There’s nothing natural about that odor. Go outside and use the hose before you come back in the house,” she said pointing to the door. Tears were coming to her eyes and she was finding it hard to breath.
“It’s not that bad. I expect to make millions off this perfume in the first day of sales,” Sean said. He flapped his arms to help spread the smell through the kitchen.
“And you’ll get sued for billions the very next day,” his mother replied. Her voice was a little muffled by the dish towel that she was holding against her nose.
“Nay, the world will love it. It is organic,” Sean said. He sniffed under his arms and attempted to keep a straight face despite his crossed eyes and the tears running down his cheeks.
“It will be banned under international law. Chemical weapons like that represent a crime against mankind,” his mother said still holding the towel to her nose.
“I want a hug,” Sean said advancing towards his mother with his arms held outstretched.
Backing away from him, she shouted, “Get away from me.”
“Oh, woe is me! I’ve been rejected by my own mother. What is this world coming to?” Sean asked as he shuffled towards the door. He did his best to look dejected.
“I don’t know, but I want to live long enough to find out. One hug from you and I won’t live to see the morning,” his mother said.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Sean said, “You never know when I’ll need to knock off a meddling mother or two.”
His mother said, “While you’re at it, burn those clothes.”
“I don’t think this job will be very cost effective if I have to burn my clothes every day after work,” Sean said.
“Okay. Take them off and put them in the washing machine. You’ll wash them tonight,” his mother said.
“You,” she answered, “I’m not getting near them.”
Outside, Sean stripped down to his underwear and turned on the hose. Although it was a shock to his system when the cold water hit his skin, the sudden cold felt heavenly. Wishing that he had a bar of soap, he did the best to wash off the accumulated sweat and grease. He figured that he would have to take a shower once he had dropped his clothes in the washer.
Sean returned to the house wearing nothing more than his white briefs and carrying his smelly clothes. Lily entered the kitchen and looked at Sean. She yelled, “Mom! Sean is a pervert.”
“Of course he is, Dear. All boys his age are perverts,” his mother replied from the laundry room.
Sean grinned at his sister and held out the smelly clothes in her direction. He asked, “Do you want to take my clothes to the washing machine?”
Lily was close enough to smell the clothes. She looked at him and yelled, “Mom! Sean is trying to kill me.”
“Of course he is, Dear. He’s on a murderous rampage,” his mother said returning to the kitchen. She had been in the laundry making sure that the washing machine was empty of clothes. She looked at Sean and said, “You’re getting the kitchen all wet.”
“I didn’t have a towel,” Sean said shrugging his shoulders. Being wet was the least of his problems. He wasn’t exactly comfortable standing around the kitchen wearing nothing more than his underwear.
“Stay there,” his mother said. She looked over at Lily and said, “Get your brother a towel.”
“Why me?” Lily asked wondering how she was suddenly getting roped into running errands.
“Because you’re the smallest one here,” his mother answered.
“That doesn’t make sense,” Lily said wrinkling her brow while she thought about it.
His mother said, “Of course it doesn’t make sense. It is a state law and laws don’t have to make sense.”
“It is a state law?” Lily asked not sure that she believed the answer.
“Yes it is,” his mother answered with a smile.
“Oh,” Lily said. She headed down the hall to fetch a towel. She didn’t want to violate a state law.
“We sure have some of the wackiest legislators in the country living in this state,” Sean commented. His mother had used that excuse a thousand times on him. For about the first three times, it had actually worked.
“That’s true. You never know what you’re going to get when you vote for someone,” his mother replied. Shaking her head, she said, “They passed a law the other day making it illegal for teenage boys to stand in the kitchen wearing only their underwear. You’re in gross violation of the law.”
“Oh that is horrible. I hate knowing that I’m violating some law. Maybe I should take off my underwear,” Sean said.
“Then you will violate a dozen Federal statutes. You’ll never get out of jail,” she answered.
“I’ll keep my underwear on and face the lesser charges. Are you going to call the police?” Sean asked.
His mother grinned and answered, “You did threaten me with bodily harm earlier by trying to hug me.”
“Assault with deadly hug. I’ll have to remember that,” Sean said shaking his head.
“You’d better,” his mother said.
Lily returned with the towel and held it for her mother to take. She said, “Here’s the towel you wanted.”
“Give it to your brother.”
“No way am I going near those smelly old clothes,” Lily said wrinkling her nose.
By this time, Sean was nearly dry. The same could not be said for the kitchen floor. He reached out and grabbed the towel. After running it over his body, he wrapped it around his waist and said, “I’ll put the clothes in the washing machine.”
“Use lots of bleach. They smell like something died in them,” his mother said.
“That’ll ruin my clothes,” Sean said looking down at his blue jeans and tee-shirt imagining them becoming a pair of white jeans and a tie-dyed tee-shirt.
“They are already ruined. You’ll just have to wear them when you go to work,” his mother said.
“Yes, Mother,” Sean said. He went in the laundry room and dumped his clothes in the washing machine. After adding a bit of detergent and bleach, he turned on the washer.
After a long hot shower that required lots of soap, Sean entered the kitchen wearing his sweat pants and a tee shirt. He looked over at the table and saw that his mother had put out a serving of dinner. After cooking hamburgers the whole day, the last thing he had wanted to see was meatloaf. He sighed and sat down to eat his dinner. He cut a piece out of the meatloaf and ate it. Grousing, he said, “All I’ve seen, smelled, and eaten today is hamburger.”
His father entered the kitchen and took a seat at the table. He said, “Your mother told me that you got a job at the Dairy King. How does it feel to be a working man?”
“Tiring,” Sean answered dumping some ketchup on the meatloaf. He decided that it would be better to have a little ketchup on his meatloaf than to eat it plain.
His father laughed and said, “It will get better. With time you’ll get promoted and will be able to make life miserable for others.”
“I’m already the number two man in the place,” Sean said with a slightly boastful tone in his voice.
“How did that happen?” his father asked surprised.
“Well, there are two of us working there and I’m not the top guy. If I understand my arithmetic correctly, that makes me the number two man,” Sean said.
His father laughed and asked, “So how is Harvey?”
“Harvey who?” Sean asked puzzled by the question. He took a bite of his meatloaf and quickly wished that he hadn’t.
“Harvey Catchums,” his father answered.
“I didn’t know that was his name,” Sean said staring at the meatloaf.
“What do you call him?”
“Mr. Catchums,” Sean answered.
“It is always a good idea to show your boss a little respect,” his father said nodding his head in understanding. On thinking about it, he realized that he hadn’t known the first name of his first boss until after working for him for a few months.
Sean smiled at his dad and said, “You and mom taught me to be polite and respectful of people. I’m always respectful.”
“Is that what you call it?” his father asked with a laugh.
“Yes. I’m very respectful; especially when it comes to elderly people like you and mom,” Sean said. He added a little more ketchup to the meatloaf deciding that it was better to have a little meatloaf with his ketchup than to have a little ketchup with his meatloaf. It didn’t help.
“So how is Mr. Catchums?”
Sean stabbed one of the green beans while he answered, “I guess he’s fine. He told me that he knew mom.”
“Harvey used to date your mother,” his father said. With a grin, he added, “You might want to talk to your mother about him.”
Wondering if his father was setting him up for a long a painful discussion with his mother, Sean asked, “Do I hear a hint of jealousy in your voice?”
“Good heavens, no. That was long before your mother and I started dating. That must have been seventeen or eighteen years ago,” his father answered.
Sean looked down at his meatloaf for a moment and then took a bite of the mashed potatoes. He thought about the timeline and said, “Uh, I’m eighteen.”
“Really? So Harvey and your mother broke up about the time that you were born. That’s an amazing co-incidence. I never thought about that,” his father replied with a wink.
“What did you never think of?” Sean’s mother asked upon entering the kitchen. She looked at the meatloaf drowning in a pool of ketchup and frowned.
“Dad was just telling me that you used to date Mr. Catchums,” Sean said emphasizing that it was his father doing the telling.
His mother looked over at her husband and gave him an air kiss. She said, “That’s true. Let’s see, we broke up about seven or eight years ago.”
“Uh,” Sean said frowning. He looked from his mother to his father trying to figure out where the joke was in the discussion.
His father said, “That’s right. It wasn’t seventeen or eighteen years ago.”
Sean said, “Lily is about eight.”
“Really? Don’t tell your father that,” his mother answered taking a seat beside her husband. Her hand slid under the table and his father jumped in his chair.
Sean sat back in his chair and said, “You’re pulling my leg.”
His mother and father broke out in laughter. His mother said, “Harvey and your father were about as friendly with each other as you and Max.”
“Oh,” Sean said.
“They fought over everything. Their rivalry culminated when they fought over me. Your father lured me away from him with dark promises of chocolate and flowers,” his mother said. She batted her eyes at her husband.
“That was promises of dark chocolate and flowers.”