If you follow me on facebook, you’re probably already aware that I love the movie Machete. Until recently, I thought that the worst possible way to ever be woken up was what happens to Jessica Alba near the end of the movie. Machete pushes her off the bed, onto a floor that is immediately covered in broken glass, while gun fire explodes everywhere and the only thing she can find to arm herself against the invading bad guys is a decorative table-top obelisk.
This morning, I would have preferred that.
At 6am, forty-five minutes before the alarm was to go off, I was, as I am every night, locked in the grip of a stress dream in which people are yelling at me and all my teeth are falling out. Then, I smelled something. Let’s concentrate on this point, as it will become important later. In my sleep, while I was dreaming, I encountered a stench so powerful that my sense of smell overrode REM sleep, a state in which non-essential brainwave activity takes a holiday and your genitals get a work out (look it up).
So, while I’m deeply asleep, something stinks so much that it rouses me to wakefulness. In the split second between my brain waking up and my body hopping on board the function train, I thought, “Maybe it’s my breath,” and tried to nudge myself back into unconsciousness.
But it wasn’t my breath, gentle readers. No, sometime in the night, my dog Sampson, who prefers to sleep under my bed, even though he’s the tall kind of beagle and doesn’t fit very well under there, had gotten sick. Not vomit sick. The other kind.
The poop kind.
Now, I don’t often think about dog poop. But when I do, I prefer to avoid words like “spraying” and “slightly-chilled”. “Gelled” is pretty much off the list entirely. And yet, I faced all of these putrid adjectives and more when my husband barked, “Jen. Your dog shit all over. Get up.” Followed by my two-year-old’s cheerful, fully awake voice asking, “Is that poop?”
Yes. Yes it was poop. So much, so disgusting. I’d just woken up. My husband had plastic shopping bags, a roll of paper towels, a bottle of Woolite and a bottle of Febreeze. He dropped all of these things in a panic and left the room like it was on fire.
Since Dear Author already featured a post about how getting to know authors makes them impossible to separate from their works, and this post has already let you glimpse a part of my life that would have been better left buried, I will try to put this as delicately as possible. I sleep, how shall we say, without creating extra laundry. Since I’d sprung from sleep to shit-cleaning mode in a matter of seconds, I hadn’t really bothered to put anything more on. While I scrubbed at the floor, I realized that this particular moment in my life could be a scene in a John Waters movie. A naked fat woman on her hands and knees, scrubbing dog excrement off the rug.
Did I mention that literally every pair of headphones I own was at ground zero of this catastrophe? That all three pair lay, coiled like Medusa’s head, in a pile of brownish-yellow slime? Well, dear reader, they were. I had to carry them to the bathroom and painstakingly clean them all without submerging them. At one point, my husband, who will have nothing to do with feces but will clean up vomit, as per our wedding vows, came to the bathroom door, made a face and said, “Take a shower before you come back to bed.”
When all was clean, but still odorous, I had the magnificent idea to put the Febreeze to good use. I did so, and vigorously. I liberally spritzed about half the bottle, until the horrible stench was good and covered. Finally, I could sleep once more. Okay, for thirty minutes. But I would make the most of that thirty minutes. I climbed into bed, folded the covers into a protective mask over my nose, and settled in for a peaceful cat nap. Unfortunately, no where on the Febreeze bottle does it have some kind of warning or guide to tell you at what point adding more Febreeze to the equation becomes more harmful than the original smell you’re trying to cover up. My eyes burned. My throat closed. I had an asthma attack.
Stumbling downstairs in the dark, I located my inhaler and took mighty puffs. I noticed the pile of blankets at the bottom of the couch, warm, snuggly, clean blankets that had never been in the same room with explosive dog diarrhea. I wrapped myself in one, fell on the couch and closed my eyes.
Only to be prodded awake by my son, who asked for cereal. My husband gently explained that since the kids were up, we, too, were now up, and we might as well get the grocery shopping done.
That’s right. We capped off our banner morning by doing the one household chore I like significantly less than cleaning pet crap out of the carpet. Things just got better and better from there.
As I write this, it is 1:55 pm, and it feels like it should be 8pm (or, for those not in the United States, 20:00). I think my body has actually aged from the stress of this no good, very bad morning. I’m going to take a nap in my hopefully aired out room, but I’m not going to leave you with pointless bitching. I’m going to turn this story into a lesson.
Every time you meet an author, and you think to yourself, “My, what an impressive person. S/he holds entire worlds in her/his head. Through the power of her/his words alone, s/he can transport me to another realm, one which I was glad to escape to. How in awe I am of the human mind at this moment, and her/his mind, in particular,” remember this post. Remember that at sometime in their recent life, they may have awoken to a morning of such horrors. Remember that authors are people, and sometimes, they have to clean up dog shit.