I've contributed to perhaps the best humor compilation I've ever read. Available now on Amazon!

My second chapbook, "The Second Book of Pearl: The Cats" is now available as either a paper chapbook or as a downloadable item. See below for the Pay Pal link or click on its cover just to the right of the newest blog post to download to your Kindle, iPad, or Nook. Just $3.99 for inspired tales of gin, gambling addiction and inter-feline betrayal.

My first chapbook, I Was Raised to be A Lert is in its third printing and is available both via the PayPal link below and on smashwords! Order one? Download one? It's all for you, baby!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Someone Here Smells Hard-Working and Vaguely Oxidized

“Smell my fingers.”

“No.”

“Come on! They smell like bleach. Smell ‘em. They’re gonna stink for three days.”

I refuse to smell her fingers, although it’s not without its temptations. We are sitting at Zantigo’s, our You-Worked-Hard-And-Deserve-A-Treat Spot; and the teenagers across from us would be both disgusted and amused, I’m sure, if they were to witness me smelling her fingers.

Something perverse in me plays with the thought and dismisses it.

I’m not smelling her bleach-y fingers, even if doing so would mess with the kids.

I have my dignity, after all.

Mary closes her eyes and sniffs her fingertips. “Mmmm. I smell like an indoor pool.”

Our eyes meet and we laugh, just a wee bit hysterically. In the last several hours we have swept, mopped, vacuumed, and shook. We have washed. We have folded, straightened and rearranged.

But mostly, we have scrubbed.

“Scrub”. I like that word. To me, it looks like what it is. I just want to grab on to that word, rub it vigorously, back and forth, back and forth, over some stained bit of writing.

Mary is talking, and I struggle to focus on her. It’s the end of the day, a day in which I worked at my regular job and then tacked on a cleaning gig. I would very much like a nap.

“One of these days,” she says thoughtfully, lips curled around a drinking straw, “I’m going to discover, bleach-y rag in hand, that all the flesh of my fingers have fallen off, and I’ll think, Well I’ll be. The bleach done et it all away.”

She sets her glass down. “Truth be told, it won’t be an entirely bad thing.” She stands up, groaning, and totters her way to the pop machine for a refill. The poor woman spent the first hour and a half of the job hunched over the bathroom tub, scrubbing the hard water deposits from it, giving the grout on the shower walls the what-for. She hobbles back to the booth, and I am reminded of Tim Conway’s old man on The Carol Burnett Show.

“So losing the meat on your hands won’t be a bad thing?” I love playing straight man when Mary’s got that look in her eye. It’s been just the right combination of bleach fumes, cat hair, dust and cigarette smoke, and her bright blue eyes have a twinkling, Mad Hatter quality to them.

She holds her right hand up, curls it into a claw. “See, once the meat’s gone, what we have here is a scraping tool, the perfect scraping tool for the truly crusty bits at the bottom of the oven.”

“Always thinkin’,” I observe.

“Yep,” she says. Her eyes go unfocused and dreamy, and she sucks more Diet Coke up into her straw. “That’s us,” she whispers. “We’re always thinkin’.”

45 comments:

Oilfield Trash said...

The comment about the skin being gone and then it becomes a scrapping tool made me snort. Thanks for the laugh Pearl.

Joshua said...

Not so much with bleach. But pumping gas, dry erase and permanent markers, and a freshly-opened jar of dry roasted peanuts.

Vintage Christine said...

I love it when my fingers smell like bleach! Unfortunately since I'm such a bad housekeeper, they don't smell like bleach very often. I do pump alot of gas, though, and that's my second favorite non-floral smell.

Pearl said...

OT, we talked more in the car on the way home about it and laughed until tears ran down our faces.

Joshua, I second the gas and the magic markers. Yum. In another life, I'm sure I'd be off huffing in a corner somewhere...

Vintage Christine, I pumped gas the summer after I graduated highschool and developed a "taste" for it then. Best tan of my life!

George said...

I like messing with teenagers. Knowing that they'll go back and tell their friends about the weird guy who was...

Bossy Betty said...

Now that's an optimistic attitude!

Big Fat Gini said...

"I smell like an indoor pool."

Hysterical.

For the record, I hate bleach. I hate the smell that lingers in my kitchen and bathrooms. And so I just go through Lysol Wipes like they're going out of style instead...

Pearl said...

George, you and I are in wild agreement!

Bossy Betty, yep. We're THOSE people. :-)

Big Fat Gini, is that allowed, hating bleach?! I've never heard of such a thing!! ;-)

Simply Suthern said...

Pearl, Hun, Ante up and buy your friend a scraping tool. Meatles fingers just invite all kinds of problems. News folks, Oprah, Springer!!! Thats no way to live.

Belle said...

I wonder if I cleaned with bleach if the age spots on my hands would disappear? It's worth a try!

Pearl said...

Simply, she'd be thet best guest ever!

Belle, actually bleach IS used to bleach skin!

Jeannie said...

Like a Monty Python sketch - Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Willoughby said...

I love the smell of bleach. It's one of the reasons I only buy white sheets. There is nothing better than getting into bed and snuggling into freshly washed sheets that still smell bleachy.

Susan in the Boonies said...

Oh, thank God for friends who are as crazy as I am!!!

I like Mary already!

furiousBall said...

that's a good general rule to always follow, never smell anyone's fingers. is there ever a good time to smell fingers?

Pat Tillett said...

This is what puts humans at the top of the food chain. We make and use tools...
Image how deep you could scratch your ear if there was no meat on your finger...

Ricky Shambles said...

Mmmm...indoor pool smell. I could sniff that all day and lament when my nose got used to it and leave and return repeatedly so that happened as little as possible. Brilliant as always.

Tracy said...

Pearl,
I like the smell of bleach as it DOES remind me of a swimming pool :) good choice NOT to smell her fingers in public!

Katie Gates said...

So funny. I love your commentary on the word "scrub." I once took a good look at the word "awkward" and decided it was just that. I mean, w k w in a row? What's that about?

Pearl said...

Jeannie, if we can’t laugh, we just might cry…

Willoughby, and an added bonus if we can dry them on an outside line!

Susan, there are many stories about Mary. :-) On the right there, near the bottom, click the “My Weird Friends” link!

furiousBall, wouldn’t “Never sniff fingers not your own” look lovely embroidered on a pillow?

Pat, the benefits are many. Think how many olives you could spear at once!

Ricky, oh, excellent point. To love it, get used to it – and be forced to walk away so that you can come back and love it again. I think I’ve had relationships like that.

Tracy, I’ve added “didn’t smell Mary’s fingers in public” to the list of things I’ve done right so far this week. :-)

Katie, right on! Yes, “awkward” IS awkward! I feel the same way about the word “laugh”. It looks funny to me.

Friko said...

You certainly made this woman laugh!
Your style is so enviably fluent, your dialogue so realistic and off the wall at the same time that I feel obliged to read your posts twice, savouring every sentence.

Great.

Linda Myers said...

What Friko said.

My main memory of bleach is in the diaper pail, back before Huggies.

powdergirl said...

When Irene's off for a few days, I sometimes spray around the house with her watered-bleach bottle. It smells good AND people think I've been scrub scrub scrubbing and working my fingers to the bone : )

Pearl said...

Friko, Linda: That's fantastic. I love it. It's my intention to put you at the scene of the story itself, so am very glad to hear your comments!

powdergirl, :-) Reminds me of the story Mary Kay Ash (Yes, I sold Mary Kay!) told about working her job all day only to realize, 20 minutes before her husband came in the front door, that she hadn't started supper. She'd throw a whole onion into a pot of water and get it boiling so that when he entered the house he'd say "Smells good, honey! What's for dinner?!"

randine said...

I love the smell of bleach! What's the deal with people who use vinegar to clean? That's just nasty.

This was hilarious! I knew I was in a for a good read straight from the first sentence! Love it.

Eva Gallant said...

You never cease to delight us with your commentary!

Kelley said...

I loved the "WEll, I'll be". I hear that all the time around here! I also love the smell of the chlorine in the pool. Mmmm, mmm, mmmmmmm!!

lisleman said...

would it have been a level of perfect higher if she said, "perfect scrubbing tool"?
Oh the smell of indoor pool in the morning!

Pat said...

'Hands that do dishes...'
Would Mary scorn rubber gloves? I worry about her hands.
I've never met a loo yet that wouldn't be better for a dollop of bleach.
Nice post.

The Jules said...

De-fleshed ribs would definitely get round the U-bend as well.

Star said...

Definitely the smell of swimming lessons when I was little. Just the smell of the pool takes me back to those days when I just about dared to leap in off the side into my dad's waiting arms! Happy memories.
I enjoyed your post and I love your name :)

becca said...

great post

mrwriteon said...

The real answer is to never clean anything. But, I'm too anal for that. Actually, I don't mind the smell of bleach. Like a pool, as was said.

Gigi said...

Emmm, I'm thinking smelling fingers - yours, mine or anyone's - is not a good idea for public behavior. Kinda reminds me of that SNL skit where the girl would stick her hands in her armpits and then inhale deeply....

Betty Davis said...

Do you know that bleach will also take the sting out of minor burns? Discovered that by accident using bleach after have gotten spattered with hot cooking oil. Disclaimer: This is not a recommended treatment for burns. I don't want to be responsible for meatless, charred fingers.

Jhon Baker said...

I make it a habit to never smell anything when someone says "here, smell this" or taste anything when someone says "here,taste this." unless the statement is followed by - it is the most wonderful thing ever and I think I can die happy now.

Polly Scott said...

Ah, the "this stinks, smell it." You know you're good friends when you hear that line. It is a favorite of my sisters.

tattytiara said...

There are worse things than evolving into a house cleaning device. A yard cleaning device, for instance. Well, at least it would be worse in my two-dog yard.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I don't think I'm at risk of developing any scraping tools on my appendages, not being much of a cleaner. I love how you described Mary curling her hand up into a claw and all.
xoRobyn

jenny_o said...

You're making me feel inadequate with your working all day and housecleaning gig all evening :)

Seriously, Pearl, you are an inspiration.

ShanimalCrackers.blogspot.com said...

Hi, Pearl! I just want to thank you for reading my blog. I've tagged you for the 7 Facts Award here:

http://shanimalcrackers.blogspot.com/2011/02/7-facts-award.html

I hope you'll accept. :)

River said...

Who scrapes the bottom of their oven???

The oven is black, the crusty bits are black.
Can't see them, ignore them.
Why make more work when you don't have to?

the walking man said...

If I need to smell chlorine like all I have to do is take a shower, they chlorinate the crap out of Detroit river water.

Symdaddy said...

What a pair of scrubbers!

John McElveen said...

Boogers would not stand a chance!!!!

J