I like to think I’m a pretty bang-up detective when I need to be. In fact, I’m convinced one day I’ll rent space in a brownish/grayish/oldish-looking building somewhere and hang out a worn wooden sign: Intini, P.I.
The only thing keeping me from this dream of mine is not knowing the difference between a private detective and a private investigator, so I don’t know what to put on my business cards. I’ve tried to look it up online, but I get distracted by sale ads for ModCloth.com. I’ve read that successful detectives and/or P.I.’s have a lot of common sense and quick reasoning skills. Eh. So, I’ll settle for life as a mediocre P.I. Detective.
About two months ago while choosing which online P.I. kit to buy and debating if I should laminate the badge I printed or just wrap it in clear packing tape, I noticed an unusual odor. I left my home office which is neither dark nor secluded and let my sleuthing senses lead the way . . .
. . . to my teen’s bedroom.
Okay. So, it wasn’t a surprise the smell came from his bedroom. For months, I’d been gagging each time I entered his room. I no longer reminded myself to hold my breath when I walked past his door. It was a habit, a survival instinct.
My teen’s room had transformed into the Fragile Kingdom/Ape House exhibits at Brookfield Zoo. It was filled with thick Fragile Kingdom humidity and smelled like the ape house.
It was time for action. I removed one of my Scentsy wall plug-ins from the dining room and plugged it in my teen’s room.
When I re-entered his room hours later, it smelled like one of the zoo keepers had fed the apes sugar cookies. I couldn’t decide if it was an improvement or not, but it made me hungry for cookies. I left his room and went to search for something sweet.
My teen came home from school and retreated to his humid, dark, man-boy/ape room. After a lot of thrashing, furniture moving and stomping, he stomped downstairs nose-flaring, eyes-flashing, mouth-breathing and smashed something on the kitchen counter.
What is this? He demanded.
I read somewhere to play dead when confronted by threatening animals and beasts, I avoided eye contact and started to melt from the kitchen chair to the floor.
Then, I remembered I’m his mother. Your room stinks! It’s gross and dirty and makes me gag! You’re paying for that plug-in, too. Those suckers are expensive!
One look in my crazy eyes and my son wisely backed down.
Plug-ins were clearly not going to work in his room, especially not ones which made me bake cookies and eat half of them.
Sprays didn’t last long enough for me to exit his room. Dryer sheets stuffed in his drawers and wiped on the walls lasted about as long as the sprays did and made my hands itch. There was no way I was going to light candles in his room.
I developed a routine wherein every day after my teen left for school, I dashed to his room, whipped off my sweat-shirt, held my breath, opened his windows and turned on the ceiling fan.
The smell grew stronger. The humidity thickened.
Either something had died in my teen’s room or my teen was conducting a scientific experiment which had gone wrong, very wrong. I needed something stronger to eliminate the odor, to save him from the funk invading his room.
I went to Target and looked for an air-freshener. I immediately discarded anything with a food or flower scent. I wanted something neutral, something fresh. I smelled scents until I got a headache and snot ran down my nose.
As I was wiping snot with the sleeve of my Eddie Bauer fleece, I noticed something in a plastic jar. It didn’t look real. It didn’t look safe. It smelled strong and chemically clean and even included a warning label right on the container, so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it. It was perfect.
I rushed home, ripped off the safety sticker and stuck it in a place my teen would never discover.
My teen came home from school and retreated to his no-longer-stinky-and-humid room. After a lot of thrashing, furniture moving and stomping, he stomped downstairs nose-flaring, eyes-flashing, mouth-breathing and smashed his fist on the kitchen counter.
I didn’t even consider playing dead. I looked him directly in his angry flashing eyes, noticed his mask of boyish freckles underneath random patchy facial hair and acne. I smiled. “Was there something you needed? A hug, perhaps?”
He hid a smile, but not before I noticed the sides of his mouth curling the way they always do when I offer him a hug when he’s having one of his teen moments. “Why does my room smell . . . cold?” My honor roll teen couldn’t describe the smell either.
“Does it? I hadn’t noticed.”
He vowed, “I’m going to find whatever you put in my room and remove it.”
That was two months ago. I never did figure out the cause of the mysterious odor and humidity, but I did find a solution! Yeah, I’ll make one heck of a mediocre detective P.I.
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