A few weeks ago, I collapsed into my car after a long day at work and was instantly hit with a wonderful, fruity, tropical fragrance. Many mystery smells have emerged from my car over the years, but never one this delightful. What in the world was that?
Pineapple? No. Peaches? Definitely not.
Mango, that’s it. Why does my car smell like mango?
I realized that I hadn’t bought a mango in the past week, so what I thought was a nice, tropical air freshener someone strangely snuck into my vehicle was actually the smell of a rotting mango.
I had to laugh for two reasons:
1. How had I not noticed a mango in my cupholder for a week?
2. This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself in the midst of a rotting fruit situation.
“Oh no, not again”, I said to the wrinkled mango.
You see, one time smack dab in the middle of my awkward middle school years, there was minor situation that involved a month long search for a dead animal in the middle school locker bay. Nobody could figure out where the dead animal could be. The rafters? Somewhere in the walls? I agreed with my classmates that the entire middle school hallway smelled terrible– why couldn’t maintenance find the source of the smell already?
I should have paid attention to the way my notebooks were always a little soggy when I pulled them from my locker.
I should have noticed that the foul smell often followed me around the school, and even home sometimes.
I should have noticed that inside a flimsy plastic bag in the back of my locker lived about a quart of yellowish-greenish liquid that used to be a cantaloupe which used to be part of a science project. It had valiantly been the planet Venus for a solar system recreation.
Instead of taking my science project home like the good boys and girls, my Venus-cantaloupe orbited exactly 10 feet from my classroom to the back of my locker. AKA a fresh fruit cemetery. Venus-cantaloupe lived there for an extended period of time…long enough for it to morph into its liquid state.
I remember one day my parents decided they were going to help me clean out my locker at school– they knew I was pretty disorganized and wanted to help. Imagine their surprise at finding the source of the dead animal mystery in the back of their 13-year old daughter’s locker. Only it was less of a dead animal and more of a fermented, dissolved cantaloupe. The strange thing? I was just as surprised as they were. I wasn’t trying to hide it or deceive them, I literally had no idea it was there.
As a well-functioning (at least I like to think so) adult now, I have so many questions when examining Middle School Courtney. Why did you not connect the soggy, smelly notebooks to a potential problem in your locker? Why didnt you notice that the “dead animal smell” suddenly got stronger when you opened your locker? Why not just take the cantaloupe home to begin with?
No worries, folks. I have retroactively diagnosed Middle School Courtney with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and ADD. So much ADD. Four cups of liquified cantaloupe’s worth of ADD.
It would explain why the year before the cantaloupe fiasco, I spent months combing through articles and encyclopedias and finally wrote a fantastic research paper on “15th century European life.” The only problem was that the rest of the class, as assigned, wrote about 19th century middle eastern culture.
My confused teacher returned my unmarked research paper and telephoned my parents, worried about what in the world I had misunderstood about our countless lectures, notes, and activities all focused on middle eastern culture. Why was I elbow deep in articles about Joan of Arc and John Cabot? ADD, Mr. Roberson. ADD is why. It’s the same reason I would go months without turning in homework, but still pass classes because I did well enough on tests. Who has time to remember homework assignments when there are imagined scenarios in your head to become anxious about, and so many shiny pennies on the way home from school?
I’ll always remember rotting Venus and think fondly of her because she carries such symbolism for me. She serves as a reminder to deal with difficult things immediately or they will turn foul. They will live inside you and change over time, and eventually turn into something completely unrecognizable. You may get used to the smell, after awhile you may not even realize it’s there, but others around you will notice. Don’t let your Venus rot. Take it home and deal with it. Deal with the difficult things before they decompose and you can no longer separate yourself from them because they have simply become a part of you.
Also, get your kids tested for ADD if they exhibit behaviors like any of the aforementioned.