Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Rot

Let me tell you about maggots.

Maggots are gross. Maggots are foul. Maggots are things that crawl around my grandfather's kitchen because he has stopped cleaning. The man can get up, shuffle across the living room, put a porno in the VCR, and then shuffle back to his easy chair to do God knows what in, but he doesn't feel capable of going into the kitchen to run a rag across the counter. And so? Maggots.

And, sure, good old George Edward can summon maggots like no one's business, but his oldest granddaughter--and, yeah, that's me--also knows how to bring them about, apparently.

Remember when I told you about the fruit flies? Remember when I blamed them on that night Emily came over and we got drunk and very seriously discussed over fifty rounds of bellinis the boringness of this season's Project Runway contestants? Remember how I said I left all the food out and then the next morning--poof!--the fruit flies had arrived in my apartment, which was now their own miniature Boca Raton? Yeah, well, they were probably there for a while, just out of my view.

Tonight I bent down to grab a book out of my school bag--a multi-compartment green croc number--and I reeled backward after breathing in the air around the bag. It was rank. It was rotten. It was everything bad in the world.

"What the hell?" I said.

Abbey, who was sitting a few feet away, looked up at me and blinked. Duh, she said.

I reached into the bag--a mistake!--and rooted around in the front section I don't really use. At the bottom, my fingers sunk into sponge. Dark, fragrant sponge. I yanked the bag open and held it up to the light. And there it was: a completely rotted banana tucked deep into the folds of my bag. It was studded with maggots--mostly dead, but some not completely.

I reacted the way most people would if they'd just gone ahead and stuck their finger into a nest of maggots and moldy banana: I shrieked and tossed that bag. A cloud of fruit flies fluttered out from it.

Immediately, Abbey lost her mind. The flies had hightailed it to the nearest surface--which happened to be the mirrored doors that close my washer and dryer off from the rest of the apartment--and Abbey lunged at the doors. When the flies scattered farther up, she pinned her ears back and chattered at them before leaping up far enough to pin a few under her paw.

I was busy standing very still and hating myself. I had let a banana rot in my bag. I had been carrying maggots around with me everywhere I went for God knows how long. When I got into my car in the morning? Maggots. When I set my bag down in the corner of the office? Maggots. When I stepped into my creative writing class ready to discuss metaphor? Maggots. Maggots and rot everywhere I went.

What kind of girl was I becoming? A girl who lets rot descend on her life, that's who.

While Abbey continued her tactical assault on the fruit flies, I took everything out of the bag and sprayed it down with cleanser and scrubbed-scrubbed-scrubbed. I set out new dishes of balsamic vinegar. I got so disgusted at myself and at the bag that I opened the door to my patio and tossed it outside. The door hadn't been open more than five seconds, but in those five seconds Abbey had decided to abandon her plan to stalk and kill the flies that had been coughed out of the bag, and she shot through the open door. She wedged herself between slats on the deck and she stared out into the night, out into the dark, and she raised her nose to smell the cold in the air. I bent to get her and hugged her against my chest, and for a minute we stood out on the porch, next to a recently de-wormed bag, and we listened to absolutely nothing.

Let's not lie: Symbolically, this does not bode well.

4 comments:

Kristin said...

A) OMG so gross.

B) Not your fault. Could have happened to anyone.

C) I applaud your decision to keep and clean the bag. I have thrown things wholly away for less gross reasons.

D) Ew.

E) I managed not to throw up when I read this because I felt so bad for you. That is icky and that is the most academic word I can use.

It is NOT a bad omen - it was a rotten banana!:)

KNC said...

I'm with Kristin. I'm super cheap, and even I would have tossed the bag. Probably.

Anne said...

You're not alone Jess. I had a box of Cliff bars in my room. Bad idea. When I came back from a trip, my room was covered in maggots. I lifted up a stack of papers and the floor below was covered in maggots. They were in the popcorn ceiling, between the pages of my calendar, behind picture frames, in my sheets (shutter). In that evening I found 130. For the remaining 9 months that I lived in that apartment I had moths. I'd kill at least 3 everyday. I was constantly looking for maggots. I think you're ok, no bad omen. You kept those suckers confined to a bag. Muy bueno.

Jess said...

Important safety tip, Anne!

Maggots = GROSS.