I read lots of books when I was a kid. I remember a librarian once arguing with me because she didn’t want to let me check out the huge stack of books I had because she said there was no way I’d be able to read them all in two weeks. I’d like to say that I was strong and stood up for myself to the mean book lady, but she likely caved because I was close to crying. I did read them all, for the record. Suck it, book lady!
One common scenario in these young adult books was friends getting to go on vacation with each other. Those Baby-Sitters Club Super Specials were the biggest offenders. But I would not be going on cruises or flying across the country with any of my childhood chums. Sorry, young adult authors, that crap doesn’t happen.
Since vacationing together wasn't an option, a friend bringing you back a souvenir was as good as it got. In 4th grade, my family went to Orlando, Florida. My parents bought a Minnie Mouse pencil topper for me to bring back to the girl who was currently my best friend. When I got home though, we got in a fight about something. In the most rebellious act of my youth at that point, I kept the pencil topper for myself. As I used my pencil in class and watched Minnie dancing above my paper, I’d occasionally glance at the girl who betrayed me and think about how she was totally missing out.
In high school, my friend Mike was going on vacation. I want to say it was to the Bahamas, but I could be mistaken. It was someplace tropical and far away though. I guess the latter goes without saying though, since we were in Michigan. Point is, it was very exciting and exotic to me. Even better, Mike told me he’d bring me back a present.
My best friend Kim (not the same girl who was denied the pencil topper) and I got together with Mike when he got back, and he told me that he’d brought me a conch shell. Patience and chill are two qualities I lack, so while I don’t remember my response, it was probably something like, “GIVE ME MY SHELL RIGHT NOW!” Mike told me that he found the shell on the beach, and it had to be soaked in bleach first to clean it. I was not pleased, but I accepted this.
About a week passed, and I still didn’t have my shell. I called Mike, and he told me he had just started soaking it. Impatient, I told him I was sure the shell was fine, and I’d come over to pick it up, since Kim and I were going to be driving by his house. Probably sick of my ungrateful whining, he said that was fine.
So Kim and I went to Mike’s, and I finally had my gorgeous conch shell. I put it in the backseat of my car, and Kim and I continue to drive. We were heading to Walmart. We likely weren’t going for anything in particular, it was just a place to go (yeah, we lived in a really happening area). Before we got there though, the trouble started.
Kim: “What is that smell?”
Me: “Oh my god, that’s awful!”
We were suddenly overwhelmed by the most foul odor my nostrils had ever encountered. It didn’t take us long to realize that the stench of death was emanating from my beautiful shell. I was able to fully empathize with Jerry Seinfeld in The Smelly Car episode. "It's the beast!!!!"
Whining and gagging the entire time I drove, we made it to Walmart, and our first item of business was to remove the shell from inside the car. We moved it to the trunk to at least keep the smell contained away from us. I figured I’d get it home and put it outside, maybe it just needed to air out. Problem temporarily solved, we went inside Walmart.
I always park pretty far out in parking lots (I’m weird about parking, that’s a whole other story), so my car was a good distance from the store entrance. As soon as we walked outside the store though, it was, to use Jerry’s words, a punch in the face. No. That CAN’T be the smell! IMPOSSIBLE! I’m probably just paranoid!
But then I looked at Kim and saw a look of shock on her face. Yep, it was official: you could smell that disgusting shell from my trunk all the way across the Walmart parking lot. This was confirmed as the smell grew stronger and stronger as we approached the car. Before we had to start answering questions about a suspected dead body, we got in my car and left. The smell was horrific, but I still didn’t want to give up my shell. I regretfully moaned about how I should have let Mike keep the shell until it was ready.
Now what was I going to do? It seemed like my only option was to throw the shell away. There was no way in heck my parents were going to let me bring that foul thing home. I relayed this to Kim, and she immediately responded that she would take it home and fix it for me.
How great of a friend is that? I’m like, I want this beautiful shell, but the smell is the most disgusting and vile thing I’ve ever encountered! I cannot have it near me! And Kim’s like, don’t worry, I’ve got this. I dropped Kim off at her house with the shell and got the heck out of there, eager to air out my car.
After a little patience and some bleach, Kim presented me with my stink-free shell that I proudly displayed in my bedroom. I can’t remember whether or not I ever told Mike about what happened, as this would have meant not only admitting that I was an impatient fool but that he was he was right.
So in case you didn’t know, Mike, I was an impatient fool, and you were right.
Also, Kim has a really high tolerance for disgusting things. That must serve her well as a mom.