Originally published April 9, 2009
Sander was asking me about the emus today. He wanted to go see if there were any eggs left. I thought it was time to trot out the Emu Egg Story. Because some things never get old.
So. Put these words together into a story: Four-year-old boy. Two-year-old, fragile, rancid Emu egg. Hardwood floors.
You know where this is going. You can see it. You can prevent it in your mind.
So why, oh why, for the love of my nostrils and the love of being able to stand in my kitchen without throwing up, why couldn’t I see it coming???
When we moved here three years ago, my very, very, very old neighbor, named Eloi the Emu guy, had emus. He also had a very, very, ancient mother whom he carted around town in his ancient car and they went to What-a-burger for their weekly treat. He’s grumpy and mean and the only time we grunted at each other was when he rode his lawnmower past our fence. Occasionally we’d leave him some stale pecans to feed his emus (I have no idea if emus eat pecans, but something in his yard will eat them!)
He lives on six acres next door to us, with only a barbed-wire fence between us and the emus. He also has a goat and an animal that’s either a long-haired sheep or a very strange goat.
He also has, thankfully, a disgusting house, with so much trash and garbage and weird piles of stuff all over the front of his house that no one will ever complain about us not mowing the lawn.
Also, I figure if he has emus, a goat and a sheep-type creature in the city limits, we’re safe with chickens.
Unfortunately, his mother died recently, and the emus went away. So did the goat and the sheep, and someone came and cleaned up all the stuff.
It had been so bad on his porch that when my sister went by one day, after stepping though the piles of old bicycle baskets and coffee cans and weird piles of newspaper, she picked up a notepad on his porch to leave him a note and put her hand in a wasp’s nest (and you really want to leave him a note and not talk to him, because he answers the door in his underwear with no shirt on. Good look for Brad Pitt. Not-so-good look for Eloi.)
I’m really kind of bummed they picked it all up. It made my house look SO much nicer when it was a mess over there.
So, the emus. Scary. Mean. BIG. And there were three of them. One day a couple of years ago, Mark and the boys went for a walk and decided to cut through the neighbor’s yard.
Yah. Right through the emus. After the running and screaming and dodging the huge birds while Mark threw both boys like a javelin over the barbed wire fence to escape the HUGE claws of the giant raptors, Sander showed me their trophy: One pure white, giant, beautiful egg.
This was his treasure and his prize and the thing he loved the most in the world.
It was, of course, a time bomb waiting for the right moment.
Last week, Sander cleaned out his closet. Meaning that he dumped everything on to the floor so he could see all the “cool stuff” on the top shelf. Meaning stuff that I’d hidden because I didn’t want him getting into it.
Out comes the stinking time bomb of death.
“I LOVE my emu egg! It’s my favorite thing! I LOVE it so, so much!!”
And that was it. We tried to hide it again for three days. No good. He couldn’t sleep without it. Couldn’t live without it.
So, yesterday, as someone is ON THEIR WAY to videotape my house and my boys for a documentary on how cool homeschooling is, Sander walks in the kitchen with the egg and a new plan: He’s going to keep it safe from bad guys. Something this valuable, this special, this amazing, will obviously be stolen. All he has to do is very carefully wrap it in this BANG
Silence. For a moment, a big breath to start tears. And then, forget about crying. Forget about anything else except getting the hell away from that kitchen.
Go outside and puke and hope to God you never, ever smell anything like that, ever again. It smelled like dead puppies left in the sun, wrapped in diapers of cholera victims. Rotten egg doesn’t even begin to describe it. And it wasn’t a smell -- it was a force field or a thick wall of nausea from which there was no escape.
This sucker didn’t break. It exploded with full force, leaving shrapnel from the pits of sulphuric hell embedded into my walls.
And we had guests on the way. And Sander was not having any comforting. He wanted me to fix the damned egg.
Everything in my house smells like rot and death and corpse. By the time the woman arrived an hour later, she said she couldn’t smell it. Probably because the chlorine gas from all the bleach I used while I was vomiting and cleaning destroyed her olfactory nerves in her brain. I can only hope to be so lucky.
Sander and his dad went to the now-abandoned emu yard last night on a hunt for another egg. They only found fragments of old ones.
God help Mark if he’d actually come home with another one...