Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Swamp Thing Returns

This is the story of a boy who went to sixth grade camp and had a blast. On the first day, a sparkling creek invited him for an invigorating (and fully-clothed) dip. That night the boy stuffed his sodden clothes into the extra plastic bag his mom provided. After five days he stuffed the plastic bag, more wet clothes, clean dry clothes (clearly superfluous), two damp towels, and a hunk of well-sanded manzanita wood into the suitcase.

Upon his return, his mother opened the suitcase and immediately detected a presence. Being invisible and having no sound, the presence can only be identified by a peculiar and specific funk. The boy’s mom recognized it to be none other than Swamp Thing.

After admiring the well-sanded hunk of manzanita, the boy’s mom tried to dispatch Swamp Thing by dumping the entire contents of the suitcase (including a handcrafted name badge and several pieces of sandpaper) into the washing machine. She turned the dial to ‘hot’ and glugged several seconds’ worth of ammonia over the clothes. She crossed her fingers. She might have said something like, “Holy cow, I hope there aren’t any dead animals in there.”

The boy’s mom had encountered Swamp Thing several years earlier. The boy’s parents entrusted a teenage girl to housesit while they were away. The teenage girl and her friends delighted in the use of a community pool and a linen closet stocked with fresh towels.

A day (or two?) before the family returned, the teenage girl tidied up by washing every towel the family owned (dish towels included) in two washer loads. For reasons unknown, her tidying efforts were interrupted. Marinating in the laundry room were one washer full of wet towels, and one dryer also full of wet towels.

The memories of that encounter with Swamp Thing were so distressful the boy’s mom couldn’t remember how she finally defeated the beast. She may have resorted to burning something. She hoped this time a hot water and ammonia bath would be enough. She washed and waited. In the days following, she retrieved load after load of laundry with no hint of the creature. Satisfied, she gave the hunk of well-sanded manzanita a little victory pat.

Weeks went by.

Then one morning the boy approached his mother before school.

“Mom, does this shirt smell weird to you?”

Against her better judgment, the boy’s mom took a whiff. “Is this one of the shirts you took to camp?”

The boy looked down and considered the Spiderman print. “Uh-huh.”

Yes, the boy had been to camp, had a blast, and brought home a little something extra. A highly resilient something extra. It’s on, Swamp Thing. It’s on.


Rebecca Ramsey said...

Swamp Thing scares me.
He's tormented my house too.

Bish Denham said...

LOL! Maybe a concoction of Lyson, Frabreze, Windex, ammonia, Clorox, Ridex and anything else you might be under the sink, would send that old Swamp Thing scurrying back to his swamp.

Mothers have to be chemists don't you know. Good luck!

Kelly said...

Get him, Sherrie, get him!
I did the wet towel thing once at my inlaws vacation home. I changed all the sheets, tidied up, washed the towels...forgot to put the towels in the dryer before we left! I felt SO bad, because I believe the Swamp Thing paid a visit!

Suzanne Casamento said...

LOL! "It's on swamp thing. It's on."

Ohhh...that will have me giggling all day.

May the force be with you.

Ara Burklund said...

I think Swamp Thing's cousin might be living in my middle child's room. : )

Rena said...


Nora MacFarlane said...

He's definitely in my son's room...

Mary Witzl said...

My family actively encourages Swamp Thing. The only way they know how to deal with a slightly damp towel is to roll it into a ball and leave it in a damp warm place for a week. Oddly enough, though, they are always amazed that this results in what it results in. Used socks, damp, sweaty shirts and bathing trunks receive the same treatment and produce -- to their utter amazement -- the exact same results.

When it comes to laundry, I'm pretty much Einstein next to my family.

LW said...

My son is coming home tomorrow from college…

I fear the swamp thing will be coming home with him.


Kim Kasch said...

What lasting memories.


Plus, I love the word superfluous ;)

adrienne said...

Gee, this thing's more rampant than I thought!

Bish - I've felt like that - the challenge is to kill it without doing us all in at the same time!

Mary - Ha! Clearly your family thinks there's insufficient data...

Louise - Enjoy your son being home. And get that washer ready. :)

ICQB said...

Oh yes, Swam Thing.



When you think it's gone, it comes back - but only after body temperature has re-animated it and you are in the middle of, say, a crowded elevator.

Be afraid. Be very afraid!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Ew, the Swamp Thing. We have something similar here. Did you try line drying in the sun? That can help sometimes...I love how little boys have so little clue;)

Debbie said...

With four boy scouts in the family, the swamp thing has moved in with us permanently. I'm learning to like the little bugger.

adrienne said...

ICQB - Yes, I'm afraid. I'm afraid I'll have to buy a whole new wardrobe.

Green Girl - Great idea - when we have another scorcher I'll try to bake him out.

Debbie - He does grow on you, but not really in the best way.