While Monkey Man was getting undressed for his bath, he begged me to tickle his “stinky feet.” Because he is four, despite the pungent foot aroma wafting from his shoes at the end of a long day, I would hardly describe his feet as stinky. They smell like boy, and like damp leaves in autumn. Or like spices and soap.
Watching four year-olds giggle uncontrollably while you tickle their “stinky feet” is one of the best things you can do to relieve stress. My sister does hot yoga, which apparently is quite pricey. The price of tickling stinky feet: nothing. (Take that, oh loathsome Master Card commercial.)
Tickling stinky feet has other added benefits; the exuberant giggles can momentarily eliminate worries about mice and lice. The mice have, of course, expanded their territory to include several other units in our building (see Possession). And today, I got a note from the school nurse alerting parents in the Blue Room that lice have been discovered on the heads of several children who reside therein. Ed did a lice check of all of our heads today after dinner and for the moment, we have eluded the pesky creatures.
Autumn must foster the emergence of these pests; perhaps autumn provides a suitable substance, like the primordial soup, for autumnal creatures. Goblins, ghosts, spooky spiders and zombies all must be symbols of the season because like mice and lice, they annoy, scare, and most importantly, vex us.
Unlike Ray Bradbury’s October Country that documents the eerie listlessness of autumn, it seems that children bring out a flurry of life forms, in the shape of manageable pestilences, whence autumn arrives.
From October Country
…that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain…
Mice and lice, go back to those cellars, those attics and closets, or cursed you will be with Monkey Man’s stinky feet!