Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Old Germs

Do you remember being afraid of them? Do you remember thinking they were different than young germs?

Let me explain.....
Yesterday we had to go south to get some things done. Mike needed to help his Mom re-do her resume. The original plan was for him to go right from school to meet her in Portland. But since he didn't actually make it to school (the roads were bad) he left from home, so he decided to invite us to tag along. Anyway, we went to lunch, they got their business done, she went back to work and we headed to OOB.
We got to Laurette's house and found things....um....a bit worrisome. She is Mike's great aunt who lives alone and is 94, so we don't expect her to go jogging every day. But she has never been known to wear her pajamas past 7:00am. When we got there, she was asleep on the couch in her PJ's. Not too alarming, right? Well, later one of the kids opened up the fridge to get a drink and a huge wave of stink went through her (very tiny) house. Red flags started going up. As a nurse, Mike is trained to recognize the signs of a person being unable to take care of themselves. Next she asked for help with her check book, which led to a discovery of a $400.00 overdraft. Yikes!! This is coming from someone who has never bounced a check in her life. She is one of the only people I know who actually still uses the register in the back of her check book....subtracting (by hand) each withdrawl and adding each deposit. Anyway, as Mike helped her with that, the kids entertained themselves while I cleaned out the fridge. Everything in there but the condiments was rotten-----as in slimey- stinky- plug your nose- moldy-you would puke if you were pregnant-get sick if you ate it----- kind of rotten. (When I am pg, it's always Mike's job to get rid of the Unidentified Fridge Objects--UFO's). So I cleaned it all out while trying to preserve her dignity. So with each item, I asked "Is this still good?" knowing full well that it wasn't. A few times she said "I just bought that last week" at which point I gently tried to persuade her that it was indeed rotten. After that was done I left and went to the store and bought stuff for spaghetti to make dinner for all of us and some bananas, cucumbers, tomatoes, milk, yogurt, bread and cheese...just to tide her over until today when her friend was taking her to the store.
Anyway....We all ate spaghetti for dinner, except for Caleb. His plate sat...and sat....and sat, untouched until it was time to clear the table and wash the dishes. At which point I inquired "Aren't you going to eat, son?" He picks at his plate, I move on to the sink, come back a few minutes later and say "Caleb, it is offensive to Laurette that you take that big plate of food and not eat it." (She did live during the depression, after all, which might also explain the saved rotten food). To which he replied "I have a tummy ache Mom, and I can't finish." I didn't really beleive him, but then again he isn't usually one to pull this trick. So, I met him in the middle "Try to eat atleast five bites." He picked some more until eventually all the dishes were done except for his. He left the table and that was the end of that.
UNTIL....the drive home. We stopped to get gas and Mike bought candy bars for everyone. Suddenly he was hungry.
"Wait, son. You love spaghetti. Why didn't you eat your dinner?"
He said "Well, I feel better now."
I said "OK, so were you really sick at Laurette's house?"
His response...."I just didn't want to eat it because it had old germs on it.!!"
Mike said "But Caleb, we just made that spaghetti fresh tonight."
Caleb said "No, I don't mean that, I mean like old people germs. You know, like her dishes are old and it makes food taste funny."
OHHHHH BOY!!!! Did we get a laugh out of that one. Mike was laughing so hard he couldn't see to drive. The reason we thought it was so funny is because we remembered thinking the same thing when we were kids. I remember being at my grandma's house and (sneakily) washing cups before I used them. I would die of thirst while waiting for her to leave the room so I could get rid of those old germs before I got a drink. I was afraid of old germs. Needless to say, we empathised with the kid and fed him when we got home.
I also remember pouring huge bowls of Grapenuts and being forced to sit there (seemingly) all day to finish them. Nobody told me that I might not even like Grapenuts (which I didn't...still don't), but I poured a bowl of cereal just like I did at home, fully expecting to eat them all. But before I could do so, they turned into a big blob of....that stuff that T&M put on their Mama's kitchen floor one time, and then stuck plastic spoons in it to make a masterpeice. (My sentiments exactly, T&M...that stuff is better left UNeaten).
I wish I had my grandma's sugar bowl that I use to depleat in an attempt to make those Grapenuts more palatable.....but that's a story for another day.



Marie said...

I think that it has something to do with the fact that our children only meet one or two people in their lives who are ever in their nineties. I don't remember the old germ concept, but I remember my Memere Breton (great-grandmother)from when I was maybe 6, and her house did SMELL funny, like stale old lady soap. By the time our children's children's children come along, will we have old germs?

Juanita said...

Like Marie, I don't remember old lady germs, but I do remember this atmosphere that had metal kitchen furniture, chilly air, and a mothball smell...add wrinkles and being gray and hunched over...minus the atmosphere and grays do I qualify as the lady with "old germs"
Caleb is sooo funny! Love you guys.