Tuesday, February 24, 2015


When our daughter-in-law, Sarah, was dating our youngest son, Adam, she worried. Strangely, she felt that his grazing like a wildebeest on Doritos and cheese dip was insufficient to maintain bones that did not bend. I understood her concern. 

Adam was a famously picky eater. I remember raising him on pizza and multi-vitamins and his spine only got a little crooked.

Anyway, Sarah worried, so she made Adam start taking vitamins. He did, on an empty stomach, which made him throw up in my pristine, brand new truck, which he was driving because his girlfriend’s mother had run into his car (which was really our car) and crushed in the door, trying not to run over Sarah’s dog Dodger, so it was in the shop—the car not the dog. 

So, Dodger the Dog made Adam throw up in my brand new truck.

Adam cleaned the truck out, neglecting to tell me about the vitamin vomit incident. A terrible, lingering smell ratted him out—also the family. That was the Monday the temperature topped out at 98 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tuesday, the high was 103 degrees and the faint smell of upchuck and Lysol swirled around my head like the Gulf Stream as I drove my lovely new truck to Dairy Queen.

Adam the Up-chucker! I insisted that he scrub the carpet again.

On Wednesday, the sickly sick smell got weirdly stronger as the heat threatened to suck the air out of my lungs. I accused Adam of being a poor carpet scrubber and a bad son.

By Thursday, the smell had magnified itself into the size and shape of a small malignant mushroom cloud of stink. I called a car detailer and made an appointment, letting Adam know that he would owe me for stinking up my new truck for all time and all eternity. The state of Florida set a high temp record on Thursday. 

On our way to our granddaughter’s swim class Friday afternoon, my husband and I drove the truck to Saint Cloud community pool. The heat was stifling, and the smell inside the truck had started to resemble a poorly maintained landfill—gone really bad. The five-minute ride gave me a headache. I cursed Adam’s crooked spine.

Jumping from the dump on wheels, I yelled, “What did that kid throw up—his internal organs, infected with Ebola?”

My husband shook his head. “The smell is getting stronger and stronger. He cleaned up a smell that is growing? How is that possible?”

People frowned and pinched their noses as they walked by.

“People can smell us coming.”

“And going,” I sniped. “Poor truck. I’m going to kill Adam.”

He stuck his head back into the stench of the cab. 

“Babe, don’t do it. Save yourself.”

I walked ten feet away for a fresh breath of air, next to the dumpster in the parking lot. “Let’s abandon the dump-mobile right here.”

“Before we do that,” he said, as he pulled something from under the passenger seat of the truck, “maybe we should get rid of this.” He turned slowly—a noxious, oozing explosion of festering germs in a casserole dish in his hands. “It’s a dish with your left over casserole from dinner at the Chevrier’s, from a week ago, under the seat, all week, in the heat, all seven days long.”

“Wow. That’s a casserole bomb,” I said.

Flies began to circle, a vulture drifted high overhead. I took the mess from Sherwood, walked slowly to the dumpster, and tossed it.

“What do we tell Adam?”

“Nothing, absolutely nothing. We take this to our grave,” I paused, considering. “We never tell Adam we’ve been blaming him for the slowly festering dish of casserole bits under the front seat. Never. Ever.”

And we did take it to our graves—sort of.

Linda (New Car Smell) Zern

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